First Responders get special EV training in Oakland County

Event was the last in-person class they will hold

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – On Friday, first responders from across Metro Detroit got some special training that will pay dividends in the future.

Responding to electric vehicle emergencies poses different challenges than their gas-powered relatives.

In nearly 30 years, you see impressive things when you get to a domestic three-proving ground.

Some things could make you cry, like taking a perfect $60,000 Cadillac and cutting it into pieces. But they’re doing it for a very good reason.

The event was General Motors proving grounds in Milford, and firefighters from more than a dozen fire departments across Michigan and Northern Ohio came to get in-person, hands-on training on how to deal with an electric vehicle fire.

Brighton Fire Department Captain Andrew Piskorowski told Local 4 he’d fought electric vehicle fires and knows it’s an entirely different operation.

“We make sure our vehicles are further back from EV fire, so that’s one of the bigger aspects of it demobilizing,” said Piskorowski. “The vehicles are slightly different because they’re typically burning near the bottom of the base. Getting access to the wheel wells and things like that are definitely different.”

Gm Global Product Safety and Systems Chief Joe Mclaine says changing the automotive environment can be dangerous but doesn’t need to be like understanding that water and electricity are not friends.

“We talk about the research that’s been done over the past several years showing there’s no transfer of that energy up the hose stream,” said Mclaine. “Just putting water as close to the source of the heat as you can is our recommendation.”

But more than just pouring copious amounts of water on a crashed EV is required. Pulling it apart and avoiding the dangerous electrical wiring is vital to know.

“Having this knowledge and being more comfortable around them for the next 15 years of my career is going to be invaluable,” said Pislorowski.

For GM, the event was the last in-person class they will hold. They videotaped the training, which will soon show up online for fire departments nationwide to watch and learn from.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.