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Hybrid Vehicles Are Dangerous For Firefighters

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posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 11:12 AM
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The cost of gas these days has some new car buyers lining up for cars with hybrid technology. Most hybrids deliver more than 45 miles to the gallon, but their popularity has created an unexpected challenge for emergency response teams.

"There's several things that you have to worry about with hybrid vehicles, of course the power source, you're dealing with anywhere from 144 volts to 600 volts," said Jeremy Riley of the Bryan Fire Department.

Officials say about 60 volts of electricity is fatal; most hybrids carry more than 250 volts.
www.kbtx.com...


You see these hybrid vehicles out on the road everyday and you think, "Hey, that person is smart for buy a hybrid." Yes, hybrid cars and trucks are becoming more popular since the gas prices are going back up again. People never think that the hybrid vehicle could be the death of a firefighter or paramedic/emt if the extrication goes wrong. Plus, depending on the type of crash, the cars could become a death trap for people trapped inside. This is because if the car gets in a wreck, the wires could short out and start a fire that could be fatal to the occupant or occupants of the vehicle.

I have asked some of the firefighters around here if they like the hybrid car as a mode of vehicle. A majority of them have told me that hybrid vehicles are dangerous to firefighters and paramedics because of where the electricity has to flow. This is because if the cars door posts are cut in the wrong place, an electrocution is inevitable. You cut electrical wires with something that is mosly steel, like what the Jaws of Life is, that current is going to flow right over it to the person operating it. Almost all fire departments now operate the Jaws of Life extrication tool manufactured by Hurst in North Carolina.

On your normal gas or diesel powered vehicle, you cut through the A and B door posts. This is so that the roof of the vehicle can either be folded back or be completely taken off. The Jaws is designed to cut through the steel of the car or truck so that the extrication process can be sped up. It used to be that the only extrication tool that firefighters had to use was a crowbar. Another thing is, if the electricity were to flow over the Jaws of Life, it could wreck the generator that it is attached to. That is how the Jaws of Life gets its power. This ususally powered by a diesel generator. So, if the electricity were to reach the generator, it could blow up the generator as well as electrocuting a firefighter or more.

[edit on 11/2/2006 by gimmefootball400]




posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 11:35 AM
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Well couldnt they just make it so when the jaws of life hit an electric current there is no path to the ground, And you would think that firefighters would have the proper equipment on to avoid being electricuted, its not as if they dont work around electric hazords ever. It doesnt seem like it should be such a huge problem, I understand the danger but it just sounds way to much of an easy fix.



posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 12:32 PM
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Actually, it would not be an easy fix because of the money it would take to fix the problem. Plus, you would basically have to rebuild the vehicle from scratch to cahnge the location of where the current is supposed to go.



posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 12:39 PM
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Alright I will take your word for it, saddly I guess money comes before safety, but the jaws of life, is there any way to make them resitant (is that the right word?) to electric current, I feel almost stupid for saying make handle rubber and make the bottom of the generater rubber, but I am sayign it anyways, since that has most likely been thought of, why wouldnt that work? I would actualy like to know.



posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 12:43 PM
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I think the other poster ment to fix it on the firefighters end, not the vehicle end. It seems to me also that firefighters wear rubber boots right? How does the electricity get grounded with rubber boots on? Plus if they just put a rubber handle on the J.O.L., wouldn't that stop the flow of electricity? I agree, it sounds like a pretty easy fix to me.



posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 12:50 PM
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Oh,hell, let's just continue using fossil fueled vehicles and throwing toxic fumes into the air. It doesn't matter,really.
That article is nothing but a hit piece probably sponsored by EXXON or some polluting demagog like that.

[edit on 2-11-2006 by SpeakerofTruth]



posted on Nov, 2 2006 @ 12:57 PM
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Originally posted by SpeakerofTruth
That article is nothing but a hit piece probably sponsored by EXXON or some polluting demagog like that.


I was thinking along the same lines. It seems an easy fix to me. If not, I'd like to know why....just because I'm curious.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 11:58 AM
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I hate to say this, but a firefighter would have a better chance of extricating someone out of a locomotive than a hybrid car. I know that you cannot use the Jaws on a locomotive because of the steel's strength. Chase, Maryland Fire Department found that out the hard way that the Jaws won't work on a train crash.




posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 12:15 PM
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Well the question wasnt if a firefighter could extricate someone from a locomotive better then a hybrid, it was why is it not an easy fix, rubber makes it so theres no path to the ground, I hate bringing up like grade 6 science but thats what it is, now what makes it such a hard fix?

[edit on 3-11-2006 by pshkwamy]



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 12:22 PM
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From the article.


"We had to change the procedure that we had when we train people to deal with vehicle extraction, so it adds another step, another precaution," said Jason Cook of Texas Engineering Extension Service.


So, all they have to do is learn where not to cut the hybrid vehicle? The fix keeps getting more and more easily feasable the more I look at it. I'd like to know who sponsored this article. I'd bet my next paycheck it was either an oil company or a vehicle company that doesn't make hybrids.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 10:04 PM
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No one paid for this article considering it is a on a Texas tv station's website. It's just focusing on the dangers that firemen and paramedics face with these new hybrid cars. Besides, it's easier to get someone out of a locomotive because you extricate using ladders an torches, no Jaws on those suckers.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 10:17 PM
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I think its something that will have to be looked at when designing cars, much in the same way that airport crash crews have certain safe areas on aircraft that they can cut through for extrication.

Perhaps the hybrid vehicles will also need to be marked to warn approaching crews, or possibly a cut off emergency switch. Im sure the techniques involved for the crews will change as the technology emerges.

One of the biggest hazards you face with a car fire is not a hollywood style exploding petrol tank, but the tyres and shocks exploding and projecting metal from unexpected angles, the main reason you will see firecrews approaching from the front or rear, and not the side.

This has been learned through years of experience, and the hybrid thing will doubtless go the same way.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 10:19 PM
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Officials say about 60 volts of electricity is fatal; most hybrids carry more than 250 volts.


Who are these officials? They certainly are just parroting whatever they've been told!

60 "volts" is equally as dangerous than 250,000 volts or 1,000,000 volts. At the same time, it isn't dangerous at all.

It's the current (Amps) that kills you, not the voltage.

1V could kill you if you pump enough current though you. Voltage is a measure of the potential difference between two points, it isn't a measure of how "much" electricity is flowing. That is current.

1 Amp at 12v would probably see you off to your maker, whereas 120,000 V with only 1 mA would probably only see you nastily burnt. (don't take the figures as gospel, I haven't done the math... Just illustrating a point)

As it stands, I am pretty sure firefighters know full well how to deal with electrical situations, are properly trained and equipped as well. It would be no different than removing someone from any other electrical fire. Thick rubber boots would see off most, if not all, of any danger they would face.

Absolute rubbish, this article.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 10:38 PM
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they know how to deal with situations when they see what they are dealing with and have been trained to repond to them.
For example, when going into a burning building filled with smoke firefighters use the back of their hand to search rooms, as if they come into contact with a electrical source the hand dosen't grip onto the cable.

If a hybrid car looks the same as a petrol car, then it gets tricky, you need to be able to identify the hazard that you might be dealing with.. and this is in a situation where every second counts. The last thing you need is anything that slows the process down. These days the welfare of the firecrews will actually come before the casualty(s).

The currents involved could be quite high, takes a long time to charge these vehicles and there is alot of weight to move, so id imagine they could pack a fair punch.

Again its going to be down to procedures being drawn up for these situations.

I seem to rememeber that the "jaws of life" in alot of us states are actually funded by fundraisers and the departments by themselves, so adapting to new equipment is going to be espensive and take time. Also worth noting that electrical incidents involving cars in the US are more common than the UK due to the number of overhead utillity poles in America, something the uk does not have a great deal of.

Its only recently that the uk brigades all now respond to road accidents, as in the not so distant past it used to be the police that cut you out of cars!

[edit on 3-11-2006 by ewan]



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 11:04 PM
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The currents involved could be quite high, takes a long time to charge these vehicles and there is alot of weight to move, so id imagine they could pack a fair punch.


Indeed, they probably are packing a fair whollop. I just hate it when people say "x volts will kill you", when it isn't true.

A GM hybrid motor is 120 Volts, 20 Amps, 2,400 watts. That does pack some punch.

However, when I used to play with a multi-meter, I measured myself as around 1 million Ohm's.

Using Ohm's law, if you got a 120V shock, that would imply that 0.00012 Amps would flow through you, or 0.12mA. A fatal shock is anywhere between 0.006A and 0.2A (or 6-200mA) usually. I don't see how this could be fatal.



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 11:07 PM
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just depends really, who you are and how unlucky you are!

bearing in mind also, if these guys are doing physical work lifting cutting gear, which i may add is pretty heavy, they are going to be sweating a fair bit too, which aint going to help body insulation!



posted on Nov, 3 2006 @ 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by ewan
just depends really, who you are and how unlucky you are!

bearing in mind also, if these guys are doing physical work lifting cutting gear, which i may add is pretty heavy, they are going to be sweating a fair bit too, which aint going to help body insulation!


That is true. Dodgy hearts and all will play a part too.



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 12:32 AM
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Originally posted by stumason
60 "volts" is equally as dangerous than 250,000 volts or 1,000,000 volts. At the same time, it isn't dangerous at all.

It's the current (Amps) that kills you, not the voltage.

1V could kill you if you pump enough current though you. Voltage is a measure of the potential difference between two points, it isn't a measure of how "much" electricity is flowing. That is current.

1 Amp at 12v would probably see you off to your maker, whereas 120,000 V with only 1 mA would probably only see you nastily burnt. (don't take the figures as gospel, I haven't done the math... Just illustrating a point)

Quite true. One has only to look as far as their TV set to illustrate that. Tens of thousands of volts to the screen which, while it will knock you for a loop, is not fatal to a healthy person.

On the other hand, the 110VAC from a wall socket will supply enough current to stop your ticker.



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 06:12 AM
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In the above pic of the locomotive, you see the overhead wires for the pantograph that is on the top of the locomotive. Those overhead wires carry anywhere around 110 Volts to 120 Volts of power. However, I am not sure of the amperage though.



posted on Nov, 4 2006 @ 04:40 PM
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Originally posted by gimmefootball400
No one paid for this article considering it is a on a Texas tv station's website. It's just focusing on the dangers that firemen and paramedics face with these new hybrid cars.


I live in Texas,big oil state. I can tell you for a fact that the state of Texas is looking to cash in on being able to start drilling and making money off of the oil here. Why wouldn't they design a hit piece against alternative fuel sources?

[edit on 4-11-2006 by SpeakerofTruth]



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