SF Fire Rescue Conducts Hybrid Car Training
by Ashley Kringen, Reporter
December 06, 2012 9:53 PM
While accidents happen every day, it's important for emergency officials to be prepared for any situation they might come across.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has recently responded to quite a few car accidents involving hybrid vehicles, which are different from regular vehicles on the road. The vehicles have added power lines in them, which need extra care, and although these cars are unique, they have some features that could be dangerous if not handled properly.
"The hybrid vehicles that are on the road now, the percentage is growing," said Battalion Chief Brad Goodroad.
Hybrid vehicles are known to be good money savers on gas, but while getting more miles for your buck, the cars require high voltage batteries and electric motors.
"It's really important for a first responder to know how to shut those things down so it's safe for us and for the citizens in the vehicle, whether it's a fire or collision," said Goodroad.
A Toyota Prius battery is packed with more than 200 volts of electricity, which increases the risk of being shocked or electrocuted.
With the push of a button, the hybrid system is powered down, but in certain circumstances, like during a car crash or car fire, the high voltage battery needs to be isolated or disconnected to prevent a shock hazard.
"We want to make sure that our fire departments and emergency responders have the proper training and have the proper tools not only to keep themselves safe but to keep everyone else safe," said Gary Winter, service manager at Billion Toyota.
Winter says the dealership sells nearly 10 to 15 hybrid vehicles each month. He says it's important to know key facts about these fuel-efficient cars; hybrid identification and high-voltage safety.
"A hybrid vehicle simply produces it's own electricity and re-charges it's battery," explained Winter.
Goodroad said although these cars are safe to drive, some of their features could make them unsafe in an accident.
"It's important to know where the power lines are and how to shut the vehicle down and how to function around that if it's involved in a collision," said Goodroad.
Toyota has planned to release “21 new or full-model-change hybrids,” by the end of 2015. Not only will first responders have to know how to deal with hybrid cars, but fully electric cars as well.
Chevrolet makes the Volt electric car. Company officials say they're working with fire departments on safety training programs.