Local firefighters learn dangers of hybrid vehicles when responding to crashes

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- You've probably seen more hybrid vehicles and even hybrid buses zipping around town lately.

And that means local firefighters are training on how the vehicles operate in case there's a crash.

Thursday morning, there were shiny new green-friendly cars, lined up and ready for a spin.

But the vehicles weren’t at a car dealership; they were at Eau Claire Fire Station #9.

“With hybrid vehicles they have new technology which creates different issues for us,” said Eau Claire Fire and Rescue Lt. Bob Pratt.

Lt. Pratt showed firefighters and students from CVTC the ins and outs of the rides.

“Where the high voltage batteries are located, the high voltage cables, how they run within the motor itself, where the airbag systems are,” Lt. Pratt said.

Two handicapped-accessible vehicles, four hybrid cars and one hybrid city bus were all on loan this week for the training.

Although the cars cut down on gas, they do provide new dangers to firefighters responding to an emergency.

One of those dangers is how firefighters cut out a person trapped in a vehicle.

Lt. Pratt said the orange colored cables in hybrid engines have high voltage going through them.

“And if we were to cut those cables, there's potential that you're going to have a high voltage displacement. Which means you could potentially be electrocuted,” Lt. Pratt said.

He said hands-on experience for the firefighters means less fear when they respond to a crash.

“The more that they're out there, the more there's potential to be involved in accidents and that's why we're doing the training,” Lt. Pratt said.

The two handicap-accessible vehicles came from A and J Mobility, the hybrid cars came from Markquart Motors, Eau Claire Ford and Ken Vance Motors.

The hybrid bus came from Eau Claire Transit.

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