In incidents involving electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries, responders face safety risks related to:
- Electric shock.
- Thermal runaway.
- Battery ignition and reignition.
- Stranded energy.
Electric vehicle design is different for various makes and models. For safe and effective vehicle extrication, rescue and fire suppression, responders need practical and accurate emergency response guidance specific to the unique features of each electric vehicle.
In a 2020 report, Safety Risks to Emergency Responders from Lithium-Ion Battery Fires in Electric Vehicles PDF, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended improvements to electric vehicle emergency response guides (ERGs), including compliance with the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO's) Standard 17840: Road Vehicles — Information for First and Second Responders.
ERGs that comply with ISO 17840 help responders with standardized labels, colors, symbols and graphics to clearly identify a vehicle's fuel/energy used for propulsion and other vital information, such as guidance for rescue teams on extricating occupants following an accident. Standardization makes this critical information much more complete, accurate, and accessible during training and response.
To date, 8 vehicle manufacturers have complied with the recommendations for standard display labels and colors to clearly identify a vehicle's fuel and/or energy used for propulsion for quick identification of alternative fuel vehicles on the roads:
- Van Hool Bus.
Another 12 manufacturers are making progress toward compliance:
- Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US).
- General Motors.
Most manufacturers have posted their updated ERGs on their websites and submitted them to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA maintains a collection of emergency response guides from 35+ alternative fuel vehicle manufacturers. The guides are free to download.
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