Norms and standards

    Documents that save lives

    The automotive industry provides firefighters and other professional emergency services with rescue data sheets pertinent to specific vehicles, containing details of the vehicle in the event of an accident. A new addition: Firefighting lithium-ion batteries.

    The automotive industry provides firefighters and other professional emergency services with rescue data sheets pertinent to specific vehicles, containing details of the vehicle in the event of an accident. A new addition: Firefighting lithium-ion batteries.

    Accident assistance and recovery of vehicles with 48V and high-voltage systems

    As various vehicle technologies continue to develop in the area of the powertrain and body, it is becoming increasingly important for fire departments to receive detailed information about a vehicle involved in an accident. For this purpose, vehicle manufacturers have been providing standardized rescue data sheets in digital form for many years now. With the increasing diversity of new vehicles with electric drives, of products, and technologies, it is becoming ever more difficult to recommend to the police and other organizations procedures for hazard prevention with vehicles involved in accidents.

    Vehicle manufacturers will provide fire departments with more information systems containing data relevant to the rescue and recovery of vehicles involved in an accident, so that the correct technical rescue procedure can be selected immediately, and the injured can be provided with medical assistance as quickly as possible. In addition to the rescue data sheets, cooperation among the various representatives on the VDA "Rescue" working group (vehicle manufacturers, fire departments, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and others) have drawn up guidelines for accident assistance and recovering vehicles with 48V and high-voltage systems. These guidelines deal with all important technical matters regarding electrically or partially electrically powered cars and light commercial vehicles — starting with rescue and extending to recovery and towing, as well as transporting the vehicle safely to a suitable location. Retrofit solutions and conversions from providers not approved by vehicle manufacturers are not considered in these guidelines.

    This document can be used by all fire departments and wrecking companies for their training and continuing education. 

    External documents on this topic

    An additional source of information is the "Fachbereich AKTUELL" No. 24 titled "Instructions for lithium-ion battery firefighting in vehicle fires," published by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).

    In cooperation with the German Energy Agency (dena) a similar document was prepared for LNG vehicles, only available from the dena website.

    Continuous decline in the number of serious accidents

    The continual optimization of vehicle safety is an important aim for the German automotive industry and plays a major role in the ongoing improvement of road safety in Germany. Whereas more than 20,000 deaths occurred in road traffic accidents in the 1970s, in 2019 there were only around 3,000 fatalities—even though many more vehicles are on the road today. These figures continue to fall, yet further efforts are still required.

    However, life-saving safety features also affect the way people are rescued. Continuing developments in vehicle technology increase the demands made of emergency rescue teams when dealing with vehicles involved in accidents. Requests from emergency services about the technical systems installed in vehicles, especially pyrotechnic components such as airbags and belt tensioners, special features of the chassis and the vehicle powertrain have led to the introduction of standardized comprehensive technical information in the form of model-specific rescue data sheets.

    Rescue data sheets for fire departments

    These rescue data sheets provide the emergency services at the scene of an accident with all the detailed information needed to help them correctly rescue a person from the vehicle. This includes a diagram of the vehicle with various components marked (fuel tank, battery, airbag, belt tensioners, structural reinforcements, high voltage components and cables, etc.) as well as any additional information. The design of the data sheets was drawn up in cooperation with the German Fire Protection Association (VFDB) along with first responders (see VFDB guideline). The sheets are also internationally standardized as per ISO 17840.

    Rescue data sheets now exist for nearly all vehicle models (passenger cars and light commercial vehicles) that are sold in Germany. In this respect, Germany is a global pioneer in total coverage with information to support the emergency services at the scene of an accident.

    To deal effectively and securely with the large number of rescue data sheets while keeping them up-to-date, at the beginning of 2013 the VDA, in collaboration with the Association of International Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK) and the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport, enabled the emergency services to rapidly identify an accident vehicle based on its license plates with the data provided by the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

    Cooperation with the DAT: Database for rescue data sheets

    Commissioned by members of the VDA and VDIK, the Deutsche Automobil Treuhand (DAT) has created software (SilverDAT FRS) that links vehicle data with the corresponding rescue data sheet via a database at the emergency service control center. This rescue data sheet database is updated regularly by the DAT in close co-operation with the vehicle manufacturers, so that the latest vehicle information is always available.

    Registered conversions and refits (e.g., a switch to gas propulsion) are displayed automatically, without any extra input required from the vehicle’s owner. The DAT software is offered to all fire services and emergency service control centers in Germany and can be ordered directly from the DAT.

    The DAT program and the use of the vehicle's license plates provide fire services with a practicable information system that has to be considered as an important tool in technological and medical accident assistance. As many rescue data sheets are also available in several languages, the system can be transferred to other countries around the world. The DAT-FRS software already incorporates an interface to the automatic emergency call system (eCall).

    Also worth reading:
    Rescue data sheets and general information provided by German car manufacturers

    Legal Disclaimer

    a) The contents of these Internet pages are intended exclusively for trained members of the rescue services for the technical rescue of persons from vehicles at the scene of an accident in Germany and may only be used for this purpose.

    b) Responsibility for the content of these rescue data sheets and for ensuring that it is up-to-date rests solely with the manufacturers compiling them.

    Technical Regulations & Materials

    Andreas Perl

    Consultant in Security, passive security Insurance requirements

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