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Author Topic: Rescuers receive training for hybrid vehicles  (Read 865 times)

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Offline julymorning

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Rescuers receive training for hybrid vehicles
« on: April 23, 2008, 05:26:58 AM »


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 By KC KotykThe Rolla Daily NewsFri Apr 18, 2008, 11:04 PM CDT
Firefighters don’t like surprises.
A fire is not a surprise to firefighters.  It’s a known adversary.  Firefighters know the nature of a fire, the paths it will take, what it prefers to consume, and what weapons will stop it dead in its tracks.

A combination of training and life-threatening experiences has made firefighters the experts they are.

Of course, fire is just one of a myriad of emergencies firefighters tackle.  There are others — water rescues, hazardous materials’ containments, accident extrications, injured people — large-scale emergencies and small emergencies.  They’ve trained for every conceivable contingency.

Which is why, when Capt. Kevin Leonard of the Rolla Fire and Rescue Department extricated an injured, accident victim from a hybrid car a few weeks ago, he found himself wondering how to turn off the high-voltage power systems, so no one would be injured.

Leonard contacted the management staff at Fairground Chevrolet in Rolla and asked them whether they could train him and other Rolla firefighters in the technical aspects of disabling the high-voltage power systems in a hybrid vehicle.

On Friday, Leonard and six, fellow firefighters and engineers inspected, prodded and poked their way through the inner mechanics of a brand-new GMC Yukon, a hybrid SUV that Fairground Chevrolet received a week ago.

Steve Campbell, an automobile technician at Fairground Chevrolet, showed the firefighters the cut-off switch on the 12-volt battery in the engine compartment.  He showed them the pull-off, high-voltage, disconnect tab under the rear seats, on the side of the array of batteries.

Campbell explained that the high-voltage power system automatically disconnects when the car has been involved in an accident, either from a sensor connected to the airbags, or from a sensor that detects collisions.  Additionally, all the high-voltage cables and switches are colored high-visibility orange.

“It’s been over-engineered with safety in mind,” Campbell explained.  “Once it’s been in an accident, the high-voltage is automatically disabled.”

The firefighters listened, and then they poked around some more.  They pocketed copies of the manufacturer’s specifications for the high-voltage system inspection and the vehicle collision detection.

Not many people drive hybrid vehicles now.  But with the cost of fuel continuing to rise, and, with an eye focused on more efficient uses of the dwindling resource, car manufacturers have stated that consumers will be buying more hybrid vehicles.

Time, invention, progress: Nothing stays the same.

The Rolla Fire and Rescue Department took a “what if?” scenario and responded with proactive consideration and embraced their best friend — training.
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