WHEELING, Ill. — When it comes to fighting a vehicle fire these days, the how-to manual is changing.
Gas and diesel-driven motors are now sharing the road with millions of electric vehicles and the batteries that power them.
At the MABAS Training Center in Wheeling, first responders are training on the do’s and don’ts of extinguishing a fire on an EV. MABAS stands for the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, which offers a statewide mutual aid response system for firefighters and paramedics.
The event was sponsored by General Motors in partnership with the Illinois Fire Service Institute.
It is teaching firefighters how to approach and fight a fire on a high-voltage vehicle, from stabilization to venting flames and neutralizing the power.
Joe McClain led the training and said the goal is to go across the country and provide key information.
The training is a mix of classroom training and hands-on run-throughs of EVs.
It includes things like learning how to tell if an EV is de-energized, what, if any, power to cut and the proper way to extricate someone.
With combustion vehicles, the SOP is to cut the power cables so the airbags don’t deploy. But with EVs, that’s not the case.