Firefighters in Detroit, where the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is built, are learning how to deal with emergency situations involving electric vehicles. It is the final stop on a nationwide tour where more than 1,600 fire and emergency service leaders have been trained.

Chevrolet and OnStar, in a joint effort with The National Fire Protection Association, expect 400 Detroit-area first responders to be trained between Wednesday and Friday this week. Earlier tour stops were in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Austin, Tex.; Washington, D.C., and New York City. All are initial launch markets where the Volt is being sold.  

“Our goal with this program is to help public safety personnel become as comfortable working around electric vehicles as they are with conventional vehicles today,” said Gay Kent, GM director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness.

Detroit Fire Department Chief Gregory Williams welcomes the training help.

“Our firefighters work hard to be prepared for any situation involving any type of vehicle,” he said. “This training will go a long way to ensure that we have knowledge of these new electric vehicles.”

Safety trainers cover topics specific to electric vehicles such as power shut-off procedures, lithium ion battery details, locations of high-strength steel and cut points for extrication. In addition, a Volt – recently used during an extrication exercise – is on-site for hands-on training for first responders.

Chevrolet and OnStar collaborated with the NFPA to develop safety resources, including web-based training materials, an extrication video and shared resources for instructor-led safety presentations. 

NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training project is a nationwide program to help firefighters and other first responders prepare for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States. The NFPA project, funded by a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, provides first responders with information they need to most effectively deal with potential emergency situations involving electric vehicles.


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