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Electric Cars and Safety

NFPA's president James Shannon writes about his groups efforts to develop training program for emergency responders.

Published: 03-Mar-2011

In his State of the Union address this year, President Obama declared his commitment to having a million plug-in or advanced-technology vehicles on the road by 2015. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the Administration is proposing, among other measures, a $7,500 rebate for electric cars and a grant program to help communities with infrastructure including charging stations.

The United States, China, and Europe have placed big bets on the successful adoption of electric vehicle (EV) technology. And the stakes are not just a cleaner environment and less reliance on oil. The economic consequences for the American auto industry would be enormous if we aren’t able to successfully launch these new products in which billions of dollars and the hopes of so much of the industry have been invested.

The National Electrical Code® will be a central document for proponents of EVs, and changes have already come into the new edition of the code that address these developments. But they only scratch the surface of the safety issues that have to be dealt with for the introduction of this technology to succeed. When a development such as this takes place, NFPA cannot sit back and wait for the proposed code changes to arrive with the next cycle. We must look ahead, anticipate where the needs will be, and lead the way to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place as the new technology is introduced.

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