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Retired Everett firefighter creates "Gerry pipe" to help fight electric vehicle fires

Retired Everett firefighter's invention could help fight fires in electric vehicles
Retired Everett firefighter's invention could help fight fires in electric vehicles 02:26

PEABODY - Electric vehicles (EV) can be a major risk if they catch on fire. Retired Everett Fire Captain Gerry O'Hearn has a new invention to fight those fires. He calls it the Gerry Pipe.

"We got to cool down the battery underneath," O'Hearn told WBZ-TV. "The key is no one gets hurt."

The Gerry Pipe can slide under an electric vehicle and spray water in all directions. CBS Boston

The trouble with EV fires is their lithium batteries can burn for as long as 24 hours. The battery is typically located on the bottom of the car and can span the length of the vehicle. Since EV cars tend to be extra low to the ground, the batteries can be hard to reach. O'Hearn said sometimes firefighters try to tip the car on its side with their hands.

"In the future, they're hoping to have some type of extinguisher-suppressant on it right, which they can have built right into these automobiles," he said.

The Gerry Pipe is a steel pipe on wheels with a fire hose nozzle at the end. It allows firefighters to put out the fire underneath from a safe distance. It was designed by O'Hearn and created by Richard Jalbert and his team at Jalbert Plumbing and Heating.

"We decided we wanted to go with an inch-and-a-quarter steel pipe to minimize weight," explained Jalbert, "We needed something that we could push underneath at a distance to keep the firefighters away from the vehicle. It throws an enormous amount of water under the vehicle in all directions."

The fire teams have to cool down the burning vehicle to 140 degrees for 45 minutes before they can move it away. Even with the Gerry Pipe, O'Hearn said, there is no guarantee that the lithium battery doesn't reignite.

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