Monday, May 07, 2012

Good News: First Responders Are Now Receiving Training to Deal With Exploding Chevy Volts

I wonder how much CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere when a Chevy Volt explodes?

The list of required knowledge for first responders gets longer all the time. Now firefighters are being alerted to potential danger during rescue procedures involving hybrid or electric vehicles...

At a conference of in Las Vegas this weekend, the National Fire Protection Association provided a day of training for trainers — firefighters who will return home to share with their ranks practical knowledge about the cars.

Safely disabling the the batteries tops the list. High-voltage batteries that operate the vehicle systems carry enough juice to kill or severely injure a rescuer who incorrectly cuts a cable. Students also spent time sorting out the varying features on hybrid and electric models, including airbag trigger mechanisms.

Silent movement is another hazard for a rescuer who might believe a motionless car is off. The cars are silent when they’re in battery mode, and can begin to move forward when obstacles blocking their paths are removed. The engine in a hybrid model might unexpectedly kick on when the battery has drained...

Although you certainly won't read any of this in legacy media, the Volt has been involved with a total of six separate fires, three while in the hands of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and three with owners who had not been involved in accidents.

Of course, I'm sure all of the modifications GM made to the Volt were strictly coincidental.


5 comments:

GTC said...

I believe the vehicle form pictured above is known as a 'flash back'.

Stan Burton said...

Let us not forget also that spraying water to douse flames on a lithium battery which has lost watertight integrity due to impact rupture will lead to a violent reaction between water and lithium.

autothreads said...
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autothreads said...
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autothreads said...

Although you certainly won't read any of this in legacy media, the Volt has been involved with a total of six separate fires, three while in the hands of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and three with owners who had not been involved in accidents.

This is not just grossly inaccurate, it lacks all perspective about cars and fire safety. There have been no "exploding" Chevy Volts. A single crash tested Chevy Volt caught fire in a NHTSA facility. Subsequent to that fire, the agency and GM tested Volt battery packs (not Volt cars) by damaging them and overturning them and were able to replicate sparking and/or a fire in two of the three tested battery packs. So, no, three Chevy Volts did not burn at NHTSA.

It should be pointed out that while NHTSA crash tested the Volt with a fully charged battery pack, when they crash test conventional cars, the fuel tanks are drained and the 12V starter battery is disconnected. If NHTSA tested conventional cars fully fueled, as they tested the Volt, you can be sure that there'd be plenty of post crash-test fires.

As for the three other Volts that have been involved in fires, those were house fires and fire investigators have determined that the Volts were not the cause of the fires.

Meanwhile, I can cite a number of recalls of hundreds thousands of Mini Coopers, BMWs, Rolls-Royces, Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes, all in the past few months, because of genuine fire hazards, with multiple fires occurring in customer owned cars, sometimes when parked. BMW appears to have a corporate wide fire problem with their turbocharged cars.

The Chevy Volt fire hazard is nearly a complete non-story. My fellow conservatives do themselves no honor by repeating falsehoods about the Volt fire issue. Putting aside the Volt's high cost and the political issue of the tax credit, the Volt is a very cool car, an amazing bit of technology. No, it doesn't make financial sense in terms of paying back the cost premium in gasoline savings, but it's still a very adept bit of engineering.

As far as perspective is concerned, about one person a die is killed in the US because of a vehicle fire. There are hundreds of thousands of car fires every year. Fire hazards are one of the most common reasons for automobile and truck recalls. Compared to the real world risk of fire with conventional cars, the Volt fire issue is laughable.


Ronnie Schreiber
Cars In Depth