GM is training more first responders to be able to handle emergencies involving electric vehicles. The automaker is “significantly expanding” its EV First Responder Training program in the United States and Canada as electric vehicle sales continue to grow. Its initiative will primarily focus on training firefighters and equipping them with the necessary knowledge about full electric vehicle technologies. GM says it’s hoping to dispel misconceptions when it comes to handling EVs in emergency situations. One of those misconceptions is that water is dangerous around EV batteries — turns out the recommended way to put out lithium-ion battery fires is by using copious amounts of water.
Andrew Klock, a senior manager of education and development at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), said: “The best way for the public and private vehicle fleet owners to rapidly adopt EVs is to train firefighters and emergency responders on how to handle incidents involving battery powered vehicles. The fire service has had more than 100 years to gain the knowledge needed to respond to internal combustion engine fires, and it is critical that they are now educated on EV safety.” The NFPA held trainings of its own that had benefited 300,000 first responders, but it believes more than 800,000 members of the community still need further training.
GM previously piloted the program in southeast Michigan, but now it’s conducting training events across Michigan and in Fort Worth, Texas, as well. Later this summer, it’s bringing the program to metro New York City and Southern California. Participants will have to attend four-hour sessions, with up to two per day, held in various venues, such as fire houses and dealerships. Interested first and second responders can register through the program’s dedicated website and earn a certificate from the Illinois Fire Service Institute if they score higher than 70 percent on the learning assessment by the end of their training.
The automaker already has a few EV models on the market, including the Chevy Bolts, the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq. It has huge electrification plans for the future, though, and training responders could help make potential customers more receptive to the idea of switching to electric vehicles. GM aims to launch 30 EV models by 2025 and to exclusively sell EVs ten years after that.
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