ELECTRIC DEATH TRAPS

Emergency personnel right round Australia can provide an appropriate response to any crash involving a conventionally-fuelled vehicle. Not so with electric vehicles such as Tesla. UPDATED

The Tesla emergency response guides for various versions of its Models S and X total 136 pages, requiring a high-tech response to any Tesla vehicle emergency:

Warning: Always use appropriate tools, such as a hydraulic cutter, and always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when cutting Model X. Failure to follow these instructions can result in serious injury or death.

Warning: Regardless of the disabling procedure you use, ALWAYS ASSUME THAT ALL HIGH VOLTAGE COMPONENTS ARE ENERGIZED! Cutting, crushing, or touching high voltage components can result in serious injury or death.

Warning: After deactivation, the high voltage circuit requires 2 minutes to de-energize.

Warning: The supplemental restraint system (SRS) control unit has a backup power supply with a discharge time of approximately ten seconds. Do not touch the SRS control unit within 10 seconds of an airbag or pre-tensioner deployment.

Warning: Handling a submerged vehicle without appropriate PPE can result in serious injury or death.

Warning: When fire is involved, consider the entire vehicle energized. Always wear full PPE, including a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

Warning: When cutting the first responder loop, double cut the loop to remove an entire section. This eliminates the risk of the cut wires accidentally reconnecting.

Warning: Never cut the high tension springs attached to the falcon wing doors. These springs might cause portions of the door to rise rapidly if the weight of the doors is reduced through the removal process. Serious injury or death can result from cutting or rapidly releasing the high tension springs.

In the event of a post-crash fire:

USE WATER TO FIGHT A HIGH VOLTAGE BATTERY FIRE. If the battery catches fire, is exposed to high heat, or is generating heat or gases, use large amounts of water to cool the battery. It can take approximately 3,000 gallons of water, applied directly to the battery, to fully extinguish and cool down a battery fire; always establish or request an additional water supply. If water is not immediately available, use dry chemicals, CO2, foam, or another typical re-extinguishing agent to fight the fire until water is available.

Extinguish small fires that do not involve the high voltage battery using typical vehicle firefighting procedures.

Battery fires can take up to 24 hours to extinguish. Consider allowing the battery to burn while protecting exposures.

After all fire and smoke has visibly subsided, a thermal imaging camera can be used to actively measure the temperature of the high voltage battery and monitor the trend of heating or cooling. There must not be fire, smoke, or heating present in the high voltage battery for at least one hour before the vehicle can be released to second responders (such as law enforcement, vehicle transporters, etc.). The battery must be completely cooled before releasing the vehicle to second responders or otherwise leaving the incident. Always advise second responders that there is a risk of battery re-ignition.

Due to potential re-ignition, a Model X that has been involved in a submersion, fire, or a collision that has compromised the high voltage battery should be stored in an open area at least 50 ft (15 m) from any exposure.

Warning: When fire is involved, consider the entire vehicle energized. Always wear full PPE, including a SCBA.

A burning or heated battery releases toxic vapors. These vapors may include volatile organic compounds, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soot, particulates containing oxides of nickel, aluminum, lithium, copper, cobalt, and hydrogen fluoride. Responders should always protect themselves with full PPE, including a SCBA, and take appropriate measures to protect civilians downwind from the incident. Use fog streams or positive-pressure ventilation fans (PPV) to direct smoke and vapors.

The high voltage battery consists of lithium-ion cells. These cells are considered dry cells. If damaged, only a small amount of fluid can leak. Lithium-ion battery fluid is clear in color.

The high voltage battery, charge controller(s), DC-DC converter, and drive unit(s) are liquid cooled with a typical glycol-based automotive coolant. If damaged, this blue coolant can leak out of the high voltage battery.

A damaged high voltage battery can create rapid heating of the battery cells. If you notice smoke coming from the high voltage battery, assume that it is heating and take appropriate action as described in Firefighting on page 21.

These general instructions are in addition to the specifics of neutralising the dangers posed by Tesla’s high voltage systems. The neutralisation procedures to be followed for vehicles of different makes and models will vary considerably.

Electric vehicles are a nightmare for first responders.

UPDATE: A fatal Tesla crash and subsequent fire tied up multiple firemen and equipment for over 24 hours.

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