CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Portland Fire Chief Jeff Morris said that a new device dubbed the Emergency Plug will allow his crews to prepare for an expected increase of responding calls when dealing with electric vehicles.
"There's about 700,000 vehicles, electric vehicles in the United States. By 2030 they're expecting close to 12 million electric vehicles," he said.
Whether its a major accident, vehicle fire or medical emergency, the fire department currently makes close to 300 plus responses on the highway.
Portland City Council member Gary Moore was present Thursday when fire crews demonstrated their new tool -- saying that the tool is crucial in today's time.
"With more electric cars coming, buying them, this is something that is needed. It allows them to disable the vehicle and makes it safer for everybody involved," he said.
So how exactly does it work?
The Emergency Plus is first plugged into the charging port of the electric vehicle. The purpose of the tool is to make the car think that it is undercharged, which then results in the vehicle shifting into park and setting the emergency brake.
Morris said that with more electric cars being produced, fire crews need to be able to handle emergency issues that could potentially come with them.
"Unlike conventional vehicles that run on gasoline, they have their own risk when we are out on the highways. But electric vehicles, one aspect you don't know if the vehicle is running, so you don't know if the vehicle is under power," he said.
The cost for one Emergency Plug goes for some $900. The Portland Fire Department invested in two of the state-of-the-art tools.
However, Morris said that the department isn't done adding new devices to their tool box.
"You probably see in the news across the country of what lithium ion fires do, they are dangerous, burn with extreme heat, difficult to fight with just conventional water," he said.
The department is hoping to soon purchase a type of fire blanket that can be used to put out electric vehicle fires.