By Jeff Julian and Gary Garrisi
Jeff Julian and Gary Garrisi are First Responder Contract Trainers for the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC). Mr. Julian has 40 years of experience as a first responder and public safety training in Yuba, CA. Mr. Julian has trained first responders across the United States in safely working with alternative fuel vehicles since 2011. Mr. Garrisi has nearly 30 years of experience as a first responder, and has worked with the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium as a trainer since 2008.
Note: The information contained in this article is not a substitute for dedicated Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training. Attempting to assist with a vehicle incident of any kind without proper knowledge, skills, and experience can be dangerous and may result in harm to the responder and those involved in the incident.
As a continuation of our description on proper response to an alternative fuel vehicle incident, we will now move forward into one of the most important processes for firefighters to follow: accurate vehicle identification. If a vehicle involved in a traffic incident is not properly identified as an alternative fuel vehicle, the firefighter puts himself and vehicle occupants at risk as special procedures need to be added to their department’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) when dealing with these non-standard fuels. Vehicles that fall into this scenario would include:
It is paramount that firefighters arriving on scene properly identify the fuel type of EACH vehicle involved so that proper procedures can be applied to each vehicle. The importance of proper identification increases if secondary issues arise, such as leaking fuel or vehicle fire.
As a review from the previous article in this series, a firefighter should, at the scene of a vehicular incident first:
As the firefighter performs his 360-degree review of the incident scene, they should be attempting to identify the vehicles involved and the type of fuel that powers them. Different methods of identification include:
Once a vehicle has been identified as being fueled or powered by a non-standard fuel, they should inform ALL other on-scene first responders as to the make-up of the vehicles involved. This information should also be relayed to any secondary responders that arrive, including tow operators.
By utilizing the tips listed above, first responders can correctly identify an alternative fuel vehicle, assuring that they can implement proper training and procedures on vehicle fire and patient extrication.
The next article in this series will educate on the proper firefighting techniques for alternative fuel vehicles, including gaseous fuels, biofuels, and electric drive vehicles.