Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition (TBCCC)

TBCCC Partners with HCC to Host Alternative Fuel Safety Training Workshop

AFV Safety Training HCC

Certifying first responders for incidents involving alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

TAMPA, Fla. (July 8, 2016) – On June 28, the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition (TBCCC) hosted an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Safety Training Workshop at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City Campus Training Center. Firefighter training officers from across the Tampa Bay region attended the workshop facilitated by Florida Clean Cities Coalitions and the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), through support from a U.S. Department of Energy grant. This series of AFV Safety Training Workshops conducted around the state will establish a statewide network of certified trainers.

NAFTC instructor and retired Battalion Chief Jeff Julian led the eight-hour Tampa Train-the-Trainer workshop that combined in-class instruction and hands-on experience with CNG, propane, and electric alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). The workshop introduced key alternative fuel properties and characteristics, AFV components and identification, and first responder standard operating procedures.

Steve Reich, coordinator for TBCCC, welcomed attendees and noted the increased presence of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles in the coalition's six-county region.

Jeff Julian

"With the nation's growing interest in producing vehicles with high fuel efficiency and fewer emissions," said Julian, "first responders must be ready to respond to incidents involving the next generation vehicle technologies."

According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, nearly 400,000 hybrid and electric vehicles were sold in the United States in 2015, and the number is expected to rise with the 2017 release of affordable extended-range all-electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3. Natural gas powers about 150,000 vehicles in the United States, and propane autogas is gaining popularity as a low-cost, cleaner vehicle fuel alternative.

Julian introduced general AFV safety protocols, emphasizing that while AFVs may function differently than conventional internal combustion vehicles, they are not necessarily more dangerous to operate. The best way to prepare first responders, stressed Julian, is to teach vehicle identification and to understand the particular safety and security procedures.

"When you go to a vehicle incident, all internal combustion engines are pretty much treated the same," said Julian. "We have something different with alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles—it's important to know how to identify these next-generation vehicles."

Julian then presented electric vehicle technologies, including the different types of electrification: hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and battery electric vehicles (BEV).

For first-responders, Julian explained, it is particularly important to understand that the electric vehicle industry lacks standardization for battery and motor systems, which can present unique safety considerations when assessing the scene of an accident involving an EV. Becoming familiar with the different vehicle models and energy storage systems is critical for effective incident response.

Following a lunch courtesy of Firehouse Subs, trainees moved outside for practical demonstrations with CNG, propane, and hybrid/electric vehicles. TBCCC members Tampa International Airport (TPA), Florida Transportation Systems (FTS), Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County (EPC), and TECO Energy brought a variety of AFVs, including CNG, hybrid, and electric light-duty vehicles, a propane school bus, and a CNG-powered tour bus.

EPC CNG Vehicle at HCC AFV Training

Trainees gather around EPC's Honda Civic, which runs entirely on compressed natural gas.

"The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County continues to promote the benefits of alternative fuel vehicles, and we also value the importance of safety in their operation," said Jeff Sims, general manager for the Air Management Division at EPC. "We were happy to assist in this workshop to help ensure that first responders are fully aware of the unique safety considerations when interacting with these modern vehicles."

Trainees were instructed on the various components of AFVs, including battery and engine locations, signage and badging, and extrication procedures.

 

TPA CNG tour bus at HCC AFV Training

TPA's CNG-powered shuttle tour bus. TPA fleet manager Ray Fanti (center) answered questions on the bus technology and the airport's CNG expansion.

"We were very grateful for the recent opportunity to participate in the Florida Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training Workshop and honored to help prepare our first responders for emergencies involving these types of vehicles," said Melissa Solberg, Tampa International Airport's Sustainability Manager. "Tampa International Airport is committed to sustainability and safety. Having a network of certified trainers is crucial as alternative fuel vehicles continue to grow in popularity across the state."

EPC Leaf at HCC AFV Training

EPC's all-electric Nissan Leaf.

TECO Volt at HCC AFV Training

NAFTC instructor Jeff Julian explaining the configuration of the energy storage system on TECO Energy's plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Blue Bird bus from FTS

Julian demonstrating the fueling mechanism on a Blue Bird propane-powered school bus, provided by Florida Transportation Systems.

Other workshop highlights included safety protocols, implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for AFVs, and the unique features of gaseous fuels.

After completing the eight-hour training workshop, the 17 firefighter training officers were certified by NAFTC to provide AFV Safety Training to fellow firefighters and students entering the field.

About NAFTC

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) is a nationwide training organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and expanding the use of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. NAFTC develops course curriculum and coordinates training workshops and education outreach activities, having conducted more than 2,000 courses since its founding in 1992. For more information, visit the NAFTC website.

About Clean Cities

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Clean Cities program advances the nation's economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local actions to cut petroleum use in transportation. In an effort to prepare Florida's first responders for emergencies involving AFVs, a consortium of Clean Cities Coalitions, through support from DOE, is establishing a statewide network of certified trainers. For more information on Clean Cities, visit https://cleancities.energy.gov/