GM revives program to train first responders on EVs

General Motors said it is reviving a decade-old program in the United States and Canada to train first responders on electric vehicles.

The revamped program, named “EV First Responder Training”, will focus on fire services, and plans to teach firefighters how to safely respond to incidents involving electric and hybrid vehicles, GM said Thursday.

Some firefighting techniques based on gasoline-powered vehicles, such as puncturing holes in vehicle hoods for water channels, can be dangerous to perform on EVs due to different component placement.

It also aims to combat misconceptions around EV batteries, such as water being dangerous around lithium battery fires.

“Our primary goal is to provide key information directly to first and second responders,” Joe McLaine, GM global product safety and systems engineer, said in a statement. “This training offers unique material and hands-on experiences that can help increase responders’ awareness of procedures to help maintain safety while interacting with EVs during the performance of their duties.”

EV First Responder Training has its roots in the Chevrolet Volt. The hybrid was a new concept in 2011, and GM worked with first responders in the early 2010’s to ensure safety.

The new iteration will be delivered in a four hour block through live presentations, videos, animations and virtual demonstrations.

GM spokesperson Stuart Fowle told sibling publication Automotive News interest is high.

“There’s just things that firefighters have learned over the years and gotten into their heads for gas vehicles that are just going to change,” Fowle said. “I think there’s a big pent-up demand for something like this.”

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