Electric and hybrid vehicles pose unique safety and origin and cause determination challenges for fire investigators. As more and more electric and hybrid vehicles are sold in the United States, fire investigators may increasingly encounter these vehicles when responding to both vehicle fires and structure fires where vehicles are present. This program presents critical safety information for how to interact with electric and hybrid vehicles, describes common failure modes that fire investigators should consider when examining electric and hybrid vehicles, and provides guidance on collection, transport, and storage of evidence from electric and hybrid vehicles.
Please note that before investigating a fire involving an electric or hybrid vehicle, the fire investigator should fully understand how these vehicles work. Basic information on that topic can be found in the module Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Design Basics. In addition, the basic training in lithium-ion batteries found in the module "Lithium-Ion Battery Fires" will be valuable background for the investigator before taking this module on electric and hybrid vehicle fires. The investigator should seek out further training to become fully-qualified to examine electric and hybrid vehicles.
IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING: A fire investigation involving an electric or hybrid vehicle SHOULD NOT proceed unless the vehicle has been made safe according to the manufacturer's instructions for that specific vehicle make/model/year.