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Bonita Springs firefighters train to deal with electric vehicles in emergency situations

Posted at 6:53 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 05:41:51-04

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — As the types of vehicles on the road evolve, so is the training that first responders undergo to respond to an emergency.

“A lot of these features - push button start, which can operate from your phone, or from a card rather from the keys, which means the vehicle is always active. Some of these features can really be dangerous to us as we come up to a vehicle on a scene and think that it’s off,” explains John Nichols, training captain with Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District.

Chris Womock, Captain with the Indianapolis Fire Department, showed the fire team in Bonita Springs under the hood to learn the nuts and bolts.

He's been teaching firefighters around the country for close to a decade about alternative fuel vehicles and how to handle them.

It's become an increasingly necessary skill in the Sunshine State - which according to the U.S. Department of Energy, had the second number of electric vehicles in the country behind California in 2020.

And in 2021, that momentum accelerated - making up almost 3% of all vehicles sold in the state.

Nichols says that's presented new challenges for firefighters.

“Now we have to put the fire out, load it on a tow truck, take it to a lot, let it sit where it’s got nothing around it in case it catches on fire again because of those battery cells and the condition they have to continue heating.”

Challenges that Womock says requires a proactive mindset.

"Like I said, when I do these classes all over the country, they see a potential and they see a problem. They don’t want to become a statistic.” He says.