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Newton Fire Department will use device to quell electric vehicle hazards to firefighters

The Newton Fire Department is one of the first in the country with a special device to help when it responds to crashes involving electric vehicles.

The "Emergency-plug" can be inserted into an EV after a crash to immobilize it. The device essentially tricks the vehicle into thinking it is in park, rather than cutting the power entirely.

"If it's a 'normal' combustion car, you can kind of anticipate the hazards," said Newton Fire Capt. Phillip McCully. "With an electric vehicle, because they run so quiet, you almost can't anticipate the sudden vehicle movements."

The device is already in use by first responders in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. McCully was inspired to learn more about it after a New York City firefighter was injured responding to an electric vehicle crash in 2022. The firefighter did not know the vehicle was still in drive, and was hurt when it began moving.

New York became the first city in the nation to have the device. Newton is now second.

"What this will do is hopefully transform the way first responders will be responding," McCully said, "and being a little bit safer with electric vehicle accidents."

The entire Newton Fire Department will be trained on how to use the plug by the end of January. It will then be put on department vehicles that respond to car crashes. The city hopes to be able to share it with neighboring communities as needed.

Dan Guzman Twitter Executive Producer, Morning Edition
Dan Guzman is senior producer for Morning Edition at WBUR.

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