Legislation Fire/emergency medical services

First responders need training on EV-related emergencies, lawmaker says


Photo: Arizona Department of Transportation/Flickr

Washington — Legislation recently introduced in the Senate is aimed at ensuring firefighters and other workers are properly trained to respond to emergencies involving electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles pose a unique challenge to first responders used to dealing with traditional vehicles,” a press release from Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) office states. “Batteries are often damaged in accidents, exposing the passengers and emergency personnel to hazardous chemicals, electric shocks and battery fires. These fires are not only unusually hot, but they also can spontaneously reignite hours after they are extinguished.”

The release adds that 75% of active firefighters aren’t trained on EV emergency response.

The SAFER EVs Act (S. 4626), introduced by Wyden on June 20, would direct federal agencies to “coordinate efforts on EV safety and testing standards while providing first responders with proper training.

“First, the Energy Department would collaborate with the Transportation Department and various stakeholders to produce a technical report on EV safety information for emergency responders,” the release continues. “In addition, the Energy Department would need to consult with the National Fire Protection Association to update EV training standards and safety information and make them accessible.”

The bill also would:

  • Authorize $10 million a year for state grants that support widespread EV-specific training delivery.
  • Require the coordinating agencies to revisit the technical report and update it every three years to keep up with technological and research advancements.
  • Require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to consider emergency response guides provided by the vehicle manufacturer when assessing a vehicle’s New Car Assessment Program score.
  • Require the publication and distribution of EV emergency response guides to all first and second responders, such as tow truck operators and salvage yard owners.

The bill was referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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