Heat Puts Extrication Tools and Firefighters to the Test

Temperatures topping 100°F, with heat indexes in excess of 110°F, tested the mettle of firefighters and rescue tools alike during a recent training event.

Despite the extreme weather conditions, firefighters turned out to put a number of rescue tool brands to the test. Brands represented included Amkus, Champion, Holmatro, Hurst, Ogura, and TNT. Participants also used a variety of stabilization products and hand tools from manufacturers such as Paratech, Rescue Jack, Sava, and others.

Although the older vehicles used in the training evolutions presented no new vehicle construction technology challenges for most of the tools, the high temperatures and humidity tested them. All but one brand, which had what appeared to be a temporary heat-related vapor lock issue, performed as expected.

Amkus debuted its single-line hydraulic hose coupler on all the tools it provided for the training session, which proved to be an efficient and time-saving adjunct.

Participants also took a look at TNT’s Echo pump system, which eliminates standard pump control valves and incorporates pressure switches in their place. This reportedly reduces or eliminates the need for a power unit operator (once the power unit is started of course), as the tools on the simo unit become ready to work as soon as the tool operator activates the control on the individual tool. Additionally, TNT demonstrated its Nexus shunt-valve single-line coupler on its equipment.

Champion Rescue Tools contributed to the program with its SuperBeast tools. These cutters can produce 500,000 pounds of cutting force to handle today’s new vehicle construction challenges. Representatives told participants to be on the lookout for the “Monster Mini” compact spreader, which will replace the company’s RS-11 mini spreader. It reportedly produces more than 45,000 pounds of spreading force, nearly tripling the spreading force of the RS-11.

Hurst provided a significant number of its E-Draulic battery-powered tools for the event. Participants seemed to like the portability and “hoseless” design of these tools. I did not notice the heat significantly affecting any of these lithium ion battery-powered tools.

Ogura also offered a number of its battery- powered rescue tools for use.

The training site included six to eight training pits, providing students with basic extrication scenarios, evolutions, and techniques.

In spite of the heat and oppressive humidity, the firefighters present displayed their commitment to training in even the worst of conditions.

It was great to see so many familiar faces, and thank you for your continued input for article topics. Please keep them coming, as it is important for us to write about topics that are important to you, our readers.

CARL J. HADDON is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board and the director of Five Star Fire Training LLC, which is sponsored, in part, by Volvo North America. He serves as assistant chief and fire commissioner for the North Fork (ID) Fire Department and is a career veteran of more than 25 years in the fire and EMS services in southern California. He is a certified Level 2 fire instructor and an ISFSI member and teaches Five Star Auto Extrication and NFPA 610 classes across the country.

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