Natchitoches Parish Fire Districts participate in training focused on electric vehicles

Natchitoches Parish-wide fire training took place on Aug. 9. NFD along with Fire Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 10 participated in training focused on electric vehicles and the challenges they present to the fire service.

As sales of electric and hybrid vehicles increase, the fire service must adapt and modify tactics to properly respond to incidents involving these types of vehicles.

Potential hazards of electric vehicles (EV) are:

-EV batteries have little tolerance for impacts that cause penetration or significant compression. This causes the batteries to heat up and release pressurized gases that are both toxic and flammable. Penetrating traumas often result in immediate ignition. Typically, the fire will burn until the batteries are all consumed even with upwards of 30,000 gallons used to cool the batteries.

-When the upper end of the safe operating temperature range is exceeded significantly, EV batteries can heat and swell and go into thermal runaway. This can be a result of external fire exposure, overcharging, over-discharging, or internal short-circuiting. This type of EV fire will require extraordinary amounts of water to extinguish and cool the batteries.

-EV contain High Voltage components that pose a significant risk to firefighters and patients during an extrication following an accident. Knowing the location of HV components helps ensure firefighters can safely use extrication tools to access patients.

-EV can reignite multiple times due to the nature of the lithium-ion battery configuration. This poses an additional threat to vehicle removal and storage.