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Chicago Area Clean Cities and West Chicago Fire Protection District Provide Alternative Fuels Training for First Responders

WEST CHICAGO, Ill., Nov. 9, 2018 – Chicago Area Clean Cities and the West Chicago Fire Protection District teamed up today to provide training for first responders to learn how to handle incidents involving alternative-fuel vehicles. The hands-on training allowed participants to learn how to respond to emergency events via simulated emergencies, using alt-fuel vehicles provided by local fleets.

“Alternative-fuel vehicles are becoming more popular for many reasons,” said John Walton, chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “They have lower tailpipe emissions, they reduce the use of petroleum, they are quieter, and they can help fleets save money.

“With the growing number of alternative fuel and electric vehicles on the roads, it is important for first responders to understand the properties of fuels such as natural gas, propane, and ethanol, as well as the battery technologies used in today’s electric vehicles,” Walton said. “They are different than traditional gasoline and diesel fuels.

“For example, with electric vehicles, emergency responders may need to know where to cut power wires to disable high-voltage circuits,” Walton added. “Gaseous fuels are invisible. Propane is heavier than air, and natural gas lighter than air, so awareness of how to react relates to the fuel properties. The locations of fuel shutoffs on gaseous-fuel vehicles are different than liquid-fuel vehicles, as well.”

The program, which was developed in concert with Green Ways 2Go, an alternative fuels consulting company, was held at the West Chicago, Illinois Fire Department Training Center. The goal of the class was to highlight the fuel-based differences when dealing with alternative fuel (e.g. natural gas, propane, electricity) incidents, compared to gasoline and diesel. For first responders, this focused on fuel properties and behaviors, vehicles and infrastructure.

Twenty-six firefighters listened to a brief orientation followed by two-and-a-half hours of hand-on training examining alternative-fuel vehicles in the training center’s shop, with guidance on the key differentiating features. As a part of the training, first responders also participate in online, self-guided training provided by the National Fire Protection Association.

Vehicles at the program included large compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks from Waste Management and Ozinga, a new electric Nissan LEAF, a 2014 Chevrolet Volt Hybrid, several propane and CNG vehicles, a Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, and a propane lawn mower. The group was able to learn where to locate critical safeties unique to each vehicle in the event of a crash or a fire and how to mitigate the risks.

The presenter, Tim Milburn, is a partner with Green Ways 2Go and a member of the Chicago Area Clean Cities Steering Team. If interested in more information, click here to contact Tim.

Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) is a nonprofit coalition focused on promoting clean transportation in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. CACC is one of more than 90 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To become involved or learn more, visit

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