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SAE publishes standards for first responders to hybrid, EV accidents; FEMA awards $1M to NAFTC for first responder training

SAE International’s Hybrid Technical Committee has completed the technical standard “J2990—Hybrid and EV First and Second Responder Recommended Practice,” which offers recommended practices for emergency personnel responding to incidents involving hybrid or electric vehicles.

Separately, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded a new grant for nearly $1 million to the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) at West Virginia University for a program to educate the nation’s first responders on the best ways to handle accidents involving alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. (Earlier post.)

SAE J2990. As hybrid and electric vehicles become more prevalent on the roads and highways, emergency responders must be aware of the proper procedures for responding to accidents and emergency situations involving vehicles equipped with high voltage electrical systems.

Among the recommended practices contained in the standard are:

  • A procedure for OEM vehicle badging (labeling) placed at standardized, consistent locations on the exterior and/or interior of the vehicle identifying that a vehicle contains high voltage systems for first or second responders arriving at an incident. This guide would enable first-responders to quickly identify the involved vehicle powertrain type and determine if it if contains a high voltage electrical system. Parameters for the visual content of the badging are also defined in the standard.

  • A quick reference guide to help emergency personnel identify the location of high voltage components, high-strength steel, and high voltage and supplemental restraint system disabling procedures to ensure the safest response methods for both themselves and vehicle occupants.

  • A recommendation that OEMs follow common standards for disabling high-voltage circuits and that vehicle OEMs provide a minimum of two methods of initiating the disconnection and isolation of the high voltage system form the vehicle.

  • OEM guidelines for the creation of second responder (i.e. tow truck operators) safety instructions for the inspection and handling of damaged or inoperable hybrid or electric vehicles, with a focus on the high voltage systems.

The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) participated in the discussions and raised concerns over post-accident response.

NAFTC. The goal of NAFTC is to bring critically needed alternative fuel vehicle first responder safety training to state fire academies across the country and to provide the knowledge to safely and confidently respond to accidents involving the vehicles, said Al Ebron, NAFTC executive director.

The next generation vehicles that use alternative fuels and advanced technologies are just as safe as conventional vehicles, but different. Therefore, it is critical that our first responders are properly trained to understand the differences, so they can safely respond, without any hesitation, to an accident involving these vehicles.

The grant will also enable us to offer 8,500 scholarships to firefighters in remote locations so they can take the Advanced Electric Drive First Responder Safety Training online course.

—Al Ebron

The project also includes a reconfiguring of the NAFTC’s Quick Reference Guide (QRG) for access by computers on fire apparatus and emergency equipment vehicles.

Ebron said the new FEMA grant will allow the NAFTC to bring the First Responder Safety Training for Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicles it developed to 12 state fire academies across the country.

The NAFTC first began its First Responder Safety Training program in 2005 and has been instrumental in the training of thousands of firefighters and other first responders since.

The project will provide curricula, training, and professional development to State Fire Academy personnel, which will help meet their training needs as they provide professional development and training to the firefighters they serve.

The training features a suite of modern technology products for electric drive (hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and fuel cell electric), biofuels (biodiesel and ethanol), gaseous fuels (natural gas and propane), and hydrogen vehicles, including instructor manuals, presentations and other training materials, and participant manuals.

The NAFTC, a program of West Virginia University, was founded in 1992. It manages education and outreach programs and activities, develops curricula, and conducts training on subject matter related to alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

The NAFTC works with universities, community colleges and high schools around the country to develop training programs for dissemination at the local level. The organization consists of approximately 50 National and Associate Training Centers that use its curriculum and training materials.



To have to pay for safety related information as is the case here means innocent? lives are lost or put at risk.

Shame on the S.A.E.


This is great, now I can stop having the nightmares and fear sweats. You know, knowing now that I am safe because of SAE and their standard. Yep, no more fear of new technologies for me. I am a new man. Stepping up and taking on these modern convieniences. Well, that is if it's okay with our industrial masters.

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