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Published November 02, 2011, 09:18 AM

Electric cars bring new set of challenges for area fire departments

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Area car dealers can hardly keep them on the lot. The popularity of electric cars continues skyrocket and with that trend, comes concerns from firefighters. As more electric cars hit the highways and city streets, fire departments are now going through special training. The reason??? High voltage electricity.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Area car dealers can hardly keep them on the lot. The popularity of electric cars continues skyrocket and with that trend, comes concerns from firefighters. As more electric cars hit the highways and city streets, fire departments are now going through special training. The reason??? High voltage electricity.

Fargo Firefighter and training officer Captain Lee Soeth knows it is a matter of time before he and other firefighters are confronted with working an accident scene involving electric cars.

That is why fire departments around the nation are now going through special training. The big concern is obvious - Electricity. A lot of it.

Captain Lee Soeth – Fargo Fire Department: “Very high voltage that can run through it there is a high voltage wire that runs from the back to the front.”

Because firefighters are first on scene to remove victims trapped in cars, there is concern over the batteries and electric cables and wires that power the car.

Captain Lee Soeth: “They are either bright orange or bright yellow or blue power cord the big thing is you never cut them enough voltage you could kill someone on the spot.”

But another challenge for firefighters nationwide is that electric cars are being built with lighter but stronger metal, and the Jaws of Life used to cut through cars to rescue victims cannot cut through the metal. Moorhead Firefighter Rick Loveland leads the Minnesota Board of Fire Training and Education. He trains fire departments on rescuing victims from electric cars.

Richard Loveland – Moorhead Fire/MN Fire Training and Education: “The main thing is where to cut. We are taking high voltage, in some up to 500 volts running through, the nice thing is they are labeled. So our guys have to peel apart the car before they tear it apart.”

And firefighters are being trained on where exactly they can cut the car, since that has changed. The Department of Energy is funding training for fire departments across the country. Fargo and Moorhead are both getting firefighters up to speed on the training so when emergencies come up, they are protected as well while trying to rescue those injured. It is estimated that one million electric cars will be on our highways by 2015.

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