Chicago Area Clean Cities and West Chicago Fire Protection District provide alternative fuels training for first responders

November 12, 2018. Chicago Area Clean Cities and the West Chicago Fire Protection District teamed up to provide training for first responders to learn how to handle incidents involving alternative-fuel vehicles. The hands-on training allowed participants to learn how to respond to emergency events via simulated emergencies, using alt-fuel vehicles provided by local fleets.

   “Alternative-fuel vehicles are becoming more popular for many reasons,” said John Walton, chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “They have lower tailpipe emissions, they reduce the use of petroleum, they are quieter, and they can help fleets save money.

   “With the growing number of alternative fuel and electric vehicles on the roads, it is important for first responders to understand the properties of fuels such as natural gas, propane, and ethanol, as well as the battery technologies used in today’s electric vehicles,” Walton said. “They are different than traditional gasoline and diesel fuels.

   “For example, with electric vehicles, emergency responders may need to know where to cut power wires to disable high-voltage circuits,” Walton added. “Gaseous fuels are invisible. Propane is heavier than air, and natural gas lighter than air, so awareness of how to react relates to the fuel properties. The locations of fuel shutoffs on gaseous-fuel vehicles are different than liquid-fuel vehicles, as well.”

   As a part of the training, first responders also participate in online, self-guided training provided by the National Fire Protection Association.