By Jason Emery
As hybrid and electric vehicles become more popular on the roadways, it is more important than ever for responders to understand the best identification methods. Most responders tend to rely on external badging as the sole identification method; this however can result in some vehicles not being properly identified. First, keep in mind that there are no industry standards for external markings. Vehicle markings can range from all four sides to a complete absence of external badging. Responders must also consider that the potential exists for external markings to become hidden or dislodged as a result of a crash.
During an emergency response, the most appropriate action is for first responders to treat any vehicle as if it is some type of alternative-fueled vehicle until you can make positive identification one way or another. Additionally, if at first glance you do not see any badging, be sure to look for less conventional identification methods such as battery vents, dashboard logos or indicators, orange cabling, etc. to ensure that you are not dealing with a hybrid or electric vehicle. For more detailed information on proper identification methods take the online class available the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Web site, or be sure to attend a training class in your area using the NFPA classroom program.
JASON EMERY, a 21-year veteran of the fire service, is a lieutenant with the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department, where he is assigned to the rescue/hazmat company. He has a BS in fire science from the University of New Haven and is a member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He is a subject matter expert for the National Fire Protection Association, a member of its development team, and the lead instructor for its Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Training program. He founded Emergency Training Solutions, designed the PowerPoint® materials for Fire Engineering's Handbook for Firefighter I & II.