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as high-pressure cylinders that identify it as an AFV. Then, immobilize the
vehicle using wheel chocks and the
parking/emergency brake. Finally, shut
down the high-voltage or gaseous fuel
system by turning the vehicle off and
disconnecting the low-voltage battery.
From a vehicle construction standpoint, you will encounter the same types
of metals, including high-strength steels
and ultra-high-strength steels, as well
as the same construction methods you
find in today’s conventional vehicles. In
fact, many xEVs use an existing vehicle
chassis with a modified drive system.
Gaseous fuel vehicles for commercial and
passenger applications are almost always
an adaptation of a conventional chassis.
As previously noted, the major difference between a conventional vehicle
and an AFV is the properties of the fuel
and its storage method. In xEVs, you
must be careful not to cut or interact
with high-voltage components such as
the battery or wiring. Although they are
not typically placed in areas considered “cut points,” severe damage to the
vehicle could result in their movement.
In gaseous fuel vehicles, consider the
potential for cylinder/tank damage and
fuel leaks. Use combustible gas meters
at any scene involving these vehicles to
detect leaking natural gas or propane.
This is especially important with LNG
vehicles, where the fuel is not odorized.
Note: In some vehicles, gaseous fuel
systems can be “dual fuel,” in which
two fuels are burned at the same time
or “bi-fuel,” wherein there is an option
to switch back and forth between a
conventional and gaseous fuel. Iden-
tify these instances, and address the
properties of both fuel types. In fuel cell
vehicles, you must consider not only the
hazards associated with the high-volt-
age drive system but also those arising
from the storage of hydrogen, a col-
orless, odorless, and flammable gas,
stored between 5,000 and 10,000 psi.
The above is an overview of the
main categories of AFVs that you may
encounter during extrication opera-
tions. Extrication practices will largely
remain consistent with those used on
conventional vehicles with the addi-
tional responsibility to identify and
address the unique hazards that may be
presented by high-voltage and gaseous
JASON EMERY, a 27-year veteran of the
fire service, has been with the Waterbury
(CT) Fire Department for 23 years and serves
as captain of the heavy rescue/hazmat
company. He has lectured throughout the
United States and internationally on AFVs
and has published numerous articles on
the subject. He is the lead subject matter
expert for the National Fire Protection
Association’s AFV safety program.
( 5) Hydrogen cylinders on a fuel cell bus.