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WVU partnership provides first responders with free online electric vehicle safety training

A large group of people looking at an electric vehicle. Many of them are in blue shirts.

Tom Miller, a WVU Extension Fire Service instructor who is also the director of the National Volunteer Fire Council - West Virginia, teaches an instructional course for first responders on incidents involving electric vehicles. An online version is now available through a WVU partnership. (WVU Photo)

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With more hybrid and electric vehicles on the roads, West Virginia University is helping first responders more easily train for emergencies involving such cars, trucks and SUVs.

WVU Extension Fire Service and the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium at WVU have teamed up to produce “Electric Vehicle Safety: An Awareness Level Training,” a new, free online safety instructional course.

“Rural places like West Virginia that have been slower to see electric vehicles on the roads are going to be seeing a lot more of them sooner rather than later,” Trina Wafle, NAFTC director, said. “We are proud to be part of this partnership to offer easily accessible awareness training.”

The course introduces first responders to hybrid and electric vehicles.

Specific topics include identifying hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles at an incident site, assessing for actual or potential EV battery damage, de-energizing vehicles, avoiding thermal runaway and extinguishing EV and hybrid electric vehicle fires.

Leading the course is Tom Miller, a WVU Extension Fire Service instructor who is also the director of the National Volunteer Fire Council - West Virginia.

The video training is hosted by the National Volunteer Fire Council, which received funding from General Motors for electric vehicle training and outreach for emergency responders.

The training is available to all first responders in the NVFC Virtual Classroom.

Car fires don’t happen often,” said Matthew Kirby, a firefighter for more than 20 years, who recently responded to a hybrid vehicle fire on Interstate 79, near Westover.

While some of his fellow firefighters with the Westover Volunteer Fire Department had been to a safety training for hybrid and electric vehicles, Kirby missed it because of a calendar conflict. The training course is available to firefighters, like Kirby, on their schedules.

Kirby said his main concern in any EV accident is not knowing where the power cables are and if they are still energized.

My biggest fear is they have a car wreck, and I have to cut the door off to get them out, and I have to cut a cable in front of me,” Kirby said. “If I snip that cable, does that electrify the tools I’m cutting with and, in turn, electrify me?”

A certificate of completion is available from the NVFC and continuing education credits can be obtained from WVU’s Fire Extension which also provides in-person training opportunities.

For additional information, contact Cristina Dumitrescu with NAFTC at 304-293-6906 or



WVU National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium

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