TRENTON, N.J. – With Gov. Phil Murphy’s adopting a ban on car manufacturers selling gas-powered vehicles by 2035, South Jersey EMT and lawmaker Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick is renewing her call to release her bill (A4476) that requires firefighter and EMT training to combat electric vehicle fires.
Her bipartisan legislation, introduced last September, directs government agencies to create and adopt training courses for firefighters and EMTs in their unique challenges to dealing with EV fires. Although rare, EV fires burn hotter and longer than fires from gas-powered vehicles. While a gas-powered car fire requires one tank of water and less than an hour to extinguish, EV fires can take hours to put out. It can take two hours or more for batteries to cool once burned out, or firefighters must continuously dump water on the car for up to 8 hours.
“On a very personal level, I’m concerned that our first responders don’t have the proper training to ensure theirs and others’ safety tending to these fires. If Democrats want New Jersey to be an electrified utopia, then we need measures like my bill to ensure proper training and handling of these emergencies,” McCarthy Patrick (R-Salem) said. “As a legislator, my hope is these costly, unrealistic plans are abandoned, and we look to balanced approaches to cleaner energy that don’t drive even more people into poverty or out of the state.”
Government records show New Jersey had 80,583 EVs registered in June 2022, up from 338 a mere decade ago. As they gain in popularity, more than half of all vehicles on road could be EVs by 2050, according to Reuters. Still, the average cost of a basic model is $60,000, out of reach for many New Jersey residents.
Overall, Murphy’s master energy plan is nearly as ambitious as California’s, calling for 100% clean energy by 2050. (California’s goal is 2045.)
Whereas the governor looks to California as inspiration, McCarthy Patrick looks to the Golden State as an omen, pointing out that the state is already plagued with rolling brownouts and demanding drivers charge vehicles only during off-peak hours. That state’s energy future is being built on solar and wind, unreliable energy sources that are heavily subsidized and reliant on back-up hydro- and nuclear power.
“Murphy will be long gone. I expect he’ll come out of his semi-retirement from some palatial seaside mansion to warn us about the existential threat of rising sea levels. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be trying to figure out how to afford and power those electric vehicles he says we won’t be forced to buy,” McCarthy Patrick quipped. “We don’t have the technology or the infrastructure or the training to reasonably meet this. This EV plan is just plain stupid.”