Partnering with the emergency services for safe electric vehicles

Published by on 06.16.2019 - 5 min

Safety in its electric vehicles is a priority for Groupe Renault. The French manufacturer’s Emergency Response Safety Expert, Claire Petit-Boulanger, has worked closely with Lieutenant-Colonel Christophe Lenglos of the Fire and Emergency Services in Yvelines, near Paris, to drive progress over the past two years. Here they tell us about this striking partnership.

How did the partnership come about and what does it involve?

Claire Petit-Boulanger: Groupe Renault has been working with the emergency services for many, many years to better understand their needs, and to share as much information as we can with them about our cars. From the very earliest days of electric vehicles – and for Renault, that’s going back nearly 10 years – we’ve sought to deepen our collaboration to keep all our vehicles at the leading edge of road safety.


Christophe Lenglos: I’m the first firefighter to be officially seconded to a car manufacturer. Because I’m a daily presence in Renault’s design and engineering centre, I’m involved upstream right from the design phase of the vehicles. Naturally, the aim is to bring safe vehicles to the market, but we also want them to be optimised for first responders to carry out rescue operations in the event of an accident. In tandem with my role alongside Renault’s engineers, I share what I learn with my firefighting colleagues, both in France and abroad.

Christophe Lenglos

What innovations have come out of this partnership?

CPB: There are several innovations that put Renault ahead, as far as electric vehicle safety goes!
It should first be noted that, independently of our work with firefighters, all our electric vehicles are fitted with a Battery Management System, which monitors any temperature rise so the risk of internal battery fire is completely eliminated. It actually has a particularly stringent trip level.

In addition, we worked with firefighters to create the design of our extremely effective Firefighting Access feature, which enables first responders to entirely extinguish a fire in the battery caused by external sources of flames. Renault is currently the only manufacturer that offers this feature. All our electric vehicles are equipped with two heat-sensitive parts positioned opposite each other, one on the chassis side and the other on the battery side. If a fire starts, they melt and leave a hole, giving the firefighters clear access to the battery with their hose. By soaking the battery, they can put the fire out in under a minute.

ZOE battery

CL: Unlike Renault electric vehicles – equipped with the Battery Management System to prevent spontaneous combustion and the useful Fireman Access in case of open fire – extinguishing another model can take several hours and even require road closures.

Unlike Renault electric vehicles – equipped with the Battery Management System to prevent spontaneous combustion and the useful Fireman Access in case of open fire – extinguishing another model can take several hours.
Christophe Lenglos Fire and Emergency Services in Yvelines

What else has Renault done to make the emergency workers’ job easier?

CL: Well, one key feature is our Service Plug! It enables first responders to disable the battery after a violent impact, to isolate it from the rest of the car’s electrical systems. Then they can get to work safely with their rescue tools. The Service Plug is carefully positioned on all Renault electric vehicles so it can be accessed easily without having to move the pelvis of any injured passenger.

CPB: And we produce emergency rescue sheets for all our vehicles, whether electric or not, so first responders can quickly see that model’s characteristics and take account of them during any delicate manoeuvres. Emergency workers can access the information directly on the site of the accident, using the dedicated Rescue Code app that Renault and the French fire and emergency services were involved in developing.


CL: To help emergency services work even faster, Renault provides digital Rescue Code stickers for customers to stick to their windscreen and rear window. The first responders scan them to get instant access to the right emergency rescue sheet for that car. This means that on electric cars, they can quickly locate the battery, Service Plug and electrical wires.

These innovations are covered by a design charter specific to Renault electric vehicles. Can you tell us about that?

CPB: We’ve drawn up technical design rules for mass-produced electric vehicles. They’re more stringent than current tertiary security standards, and all Renault design programmes have a duty to apply them.

CL: These technical rules and technological innovations show how Renault integrates safety requirements into the design of its electric vehicles to keep users safe.
And it’s raising the bar! As an example, the Euro NCAP programme has decreed that from 2020, every new model has to carry its rescue sheet in ISO format, in the same vein as the ones Renault initiated jointly with the emergency services.

CPB: As well as these significant positive developments, Renault’s close partnership with fire and emergency workers has a beneficial impact on training for first responders day-to-day, because our regular interactions enable us to keep them updated on anything new that might affect them.

Copyrights: Renault communication, Jean-Christophe MOUNOURY, Renault Design, Pagecran, Adobe Stock

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