1. #1
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    rmoore's Avatar
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    Dec 1998
    Plano, Texas

    Default Hybrids Aren't Dangerous!

    A Captain and Safety Officer of a Wisconsin fire department wrote me after the 3-part series on the VOLT lithium batteries were published. He states that the model SOG that I included in Part 3 is using 'scare tactics'. The Captain also says that "The only thing that I question is labeling the vehicle as a high voltage shock hazard. ...The hazard to fire dept and ems personnel is no greater than working on a regular gasoline operated vehicle."

    That's not what I intended anyone to gather from that SOG template. The SOG says to "Assume high voltage battery and components are energized and present a potential shock hazard." I wasn't talking about the hybrid vehicle itself and I wasn't saying that a hybrid is a shock hazard. Sorry to confuse you. What I am calling attention to is that the high voltage battery and that HV electrical system should be treated with respect for the voltages that may be present and the potential for shock from the battery itself or the high voltage components. Ford Escape Hybrid has one circuit with 500 volts DC even though their HV battery is lonely 300 volts.

    I don't agree that "working on a hybrid is no greater than working on a regular gasoline operated vehicle." There IS a difference between conventional vehicles, hybrids, and EVs but with proper training, a hybrid or plug-in EV can be handled as routinely as a gas engine vehicle.

    What will make a big difference will be if the vehicle at the scene has a new lithium-ion battery and the battery is fire damaged or crash damaged. That's where you're seeing the difference between gasoline cars and Li-ion battery cars and that is what the 3-part series was all about; the new battery chemistry. These new chemistry batteries are a bit unstable when damaged. They are not like the nickel-metal hydrides batteries that you're seeing and used to in the hybrids. Look at the Barksdale CT VOLT fire; rekindle almost three days later. Look at the Wisconsin crash lab VOLT fire; rekindle three weeks later. Same thing in Maryland when the Federal government intentionally damaged an Li-ion battery. Rekindle 14 days later. We never had such a problem with the hybrid and their Ni-Metal Hybride batteries. That's what is different.

    A crew following my recommended 7-step Lock Out/Tag Out process, will we able to manage the hybrid or EV without much being different from a gas-powered car. But the Li-ion battery is a different animal and that's where I'm not trying to scare anyone but I am intent on getting their attention.

    I taught a class in Montana last week and taught a class in Maryland this week. Both airlines I used have signs now at their counter stating that you cannot bring a lithium-ion battery on board in your carry on bags. They're unstable batteries, can self-ignite, and that's the big issue.

    Ron Moore
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

  2. #2
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    Rescue101's Avatar
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    Jun 2001
    Bridgton,Me USA


    And we ALL know that vehicle safety systems ALWAYS stay intact in a crash.............NOT! I LIKE electricity.......when connected to a switch. On its own or thru damaged components......NOT so much. I'll err to the safe/shielded/disconnect side of the plan Thank You

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