Congressional Fire Service approves resolution calling for electric vehicle, energy storage system, and flammable refrigerants training and resources

A resolution proposed by NFPA and others regarding emerging technologies, such as electrical vehicles (EVs), received unanimous approval during a Congressional Fire Services Institute Board (CFSI) National Advisory Committee. The CFSI resolution supports federal legislation, as well as funding and policies that educate responders and promote the use and enforcement of the most current consensus-based codes and standards that address new technologies.

Put forth by NFPA, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the International Code Council (ICC), the resolution explains that, by every measure, technology is changing and improving at the fastest rate in history. It stresses the importance of educating and equipping first responders so that they can safely and successfully deal with potential challenges, and references support and strategies from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The resolution zeroes in on:

  • EVs, hybrid, propane, hydrogen fuel cell, and natural gas vehicles
  • Distributed energy systems including microgrids, solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, and energy storage systems (ESS)
  • Environmentally friendly refrigerants that have a lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) but can pose flammability and toxicity risks when involved in fire events

The Biden Administration has a progressive sustainability agenda and tragic incidents involving EVs and ESS have caught the attention of the press, public, and policy makers recently. NFPA has been developing emerging technologies training, resources, and research for the nation’s 1.1 million career and volunteer firefighters for more than a decade, in the interest of safety. But, as the resolution points out, only 20 percent of the firefighters in the US have participated in available EV and ESS training to date (let alone newer training related to lesser-known flammable refrigerant hazards). Fire departments train on a frequent basis, usually in-house, and will find helpful online training solutions, research, codes, and standards, and more on the following microsites:

We can’t let innovation outpace safety. That is why NFPA is continuously looking at what’s next. Last fall, the Association received a DOE award entitled, “NFPA Spurs the Safe Adoption of Electric Vehicles through Education and Outreach” and is currently working on a three-year effort with the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office’s Clean Cities Coalitions (CCC) network. The project goes beyond first responders and will help communities evaluate their EV infrastructure, training programs, incentives, and code compliance readiness, and will provide guidance for formulating plans that will raise awareness and speed the safe adoption of EVs across the country.  A second DOE award will result in an NFPA Distributed Energy Resources Safety Training program and allow NFPA to update its current EV Safety classroom training for the fire service and develop an online immersive simulation for distributed energy resources including EVs, charging stations, ESS, and solar systems.

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Cathy Longley
Communications Manager, informing stakeholders about NFPA thought leadership, subject matter expertise, resources, initiatives & research.

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