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Research

Best Practices for Emergency Response to Incidents Involving Electric Vehicles Battery Hazards: A Report on Full-Scale Testing Results
by R. Thomas Long Jr., Andrew F. Blum, Thomas J. Bress, and Benjamin R.T. Cotts - Exponent, Inc.
July 2013

Fires involving cars, trucks and other highway vehicles are a common concern for emergency responders. Fire Service personnel are accustomed to responding to conventional vehicle fires, and generally receive training on the hazards associated with vehicle subsystems (e.g., air bag initiators, seat belt pre-tensioners, etc). For vehicle fires, and in particular fires involving electric drive vehicles, a key question for emergency responders is: “what is different with electric drive vehicles and what tactical adjustments are required?”

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (report is in 3 parts)
Prepared by Casey C. Grant, PE
October May 2012
There is significant difference between the PPE (personal protective equipment) used by the fire service for fighting fires and by electrical professionals for handling energized electrical equipment. Recent questions have arisen on the proper PPE recommended for emergency responders handling emergency events involving hybrid or electric vehicles. This report provides the proceedings of a one day workshop to directly address this topic. Specifically, the workshop involved emergency responders and other stakeholders coming together to develop guiding principles and recommended action steps to address the proper PPE for emergencies involving hybrid or electric vehicles, with a focus on minimizing the risk to emergency responders due to hazards involving electrically energized equipment. The summary observations and recommendations that resulted from this workshop are grouped according to general observations, personal protective equipment, and vehicle standardization for emergency responders.

Electrical Vehicle Charging and NFPA Electrical Safety Codes and Standards
Lonny Simonian, PE, Dr. Thomas Korman, PE, Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer and David Philips, California Polytechnic State University
October 2011
A report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation
Recent forecasts indicate that almost one million Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) or Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) charge points will need to be installed in the United States by 2015, with approximately one-third of these being non-residential charging units. The National Electrical Code® addresses the safety of the built infrastructure wrt to charging and in 2011 a Task Force was established to explore this issue and its implications for the NEC. This project was undertaken in support of that Task Force.

2nd Annual Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit Summary Report (PDF, 2 MB)
Prepared by Casey C. Grant, PE
October 2011
This report summarizes the findings and discussions that took place at the 2nd Annual Electric Vehicle safety Standards Summit, held in Detroit, Michigan in September 2011 and co-hosted by SAE and NFPA.

Assessment of Powered Rescue Tool Capabilities with High-Strength Alloys and Composite Materials (PDF, 2 MB)
Prepared by Casey C. Grant, PE, and Brian Merrifield, Fire Protection Research Foundation
October 2011
This project identifies, collects, and assesses various informational aspects of this topic involving high-strength metal alloys and composite materials that are challenging the performance of the present generation of powered rescue tools. This includes consideration of vehicle extrication scenarios, clarification on the use of these high-strength materials, review of the existing field inventory of powered rescue tools, and recommendation to address identified knowledge gaps.

U.S. National Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit report
December 2010
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the SAE International have released a summary report from the co-hosted U.S. National Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit held in October that focused on how current codes and standards address safety and electrical infrastructure concerns related to electric vehicles. The summary report prepared by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, an affiliate of NFPA, focuses on fundamental codes and standards issues as they pertain to electric vehicles in the areas of vehicles, built infrastructure, and emergency responders.

Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Electric Drive and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PDF, 4 MB)
A DHS/Assistance to Firefighter Grants Funded Study
Prepared by Casey C. Grant, PE, Fire Protection Research Foundation
May 2010
As the use of alternative energy proliferates, the fire service has identified a number of areas of concern with hazard mitigation and emergency response. This includes electric and hybrid electric vehicles, which are introducing new and unexpected hazards to fire fighters and other emergency responders.

The goal of this report is to assemble and disseminate best practice information for fire fighters and fireground incident commanders to assist in their decision making process for handling electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Specifically, this study focuses on vehicles intended for roadway passenger use involving fire and/or rescue emergency situations, either on the roadway or at charging/docking stations (e.g., garages). The project deliverables will be in the form of a written report, which will include best practices that can serve as the basis for training program development by others.

The deliverables for this project collectively review the available baseline information, identify the fundamental principles and key details involving fire/rescue tactics and strategy, provide a summary of core basics, and address and clarify related issues such as training needs, areas needing further research, revisions to codes/standards, and other applicable topics.

A companion study to this report focuses on solar power systems rather than electric and hybrid electric vehicles (Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Solar Power Systems, FPRF). This has taken an identical approach and focuses on assembling and disseminating best practice information for fire fighters and fireground incident commanders to assist in their decision making process. This companion report addresses buildings and other structures with solar power systems that are intended to supply power to the respective structure, with a primary focus on solar photovoltaic panels used for electric power generation.

This overall initiative (consisting of the reports on Electric Drive and Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Solar Power Systems) is funded through a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).