Fire Department, People, Rescue Company

Hurst Develops One-Step Coupler

Issue 10 and Volume 11.

Hurst's new coupler converts two line rescue tools into one system.
Hurst’s new coupler converts two line rescue tools into one-step, recirculating system. (Staff Photo)
The One-Step coupler from Hurst has a recirculator permitting tool.
The One-Step coupler from Hurst Jaws of Life has a recirculator permitting tool changes under power.

Believing it was time for a new industry standard for hydraulic rescue tools, Hurst Jaws Of Life has introduced a new one-step coaxial coupler that the company claims is the answer to interoperability among rescue tools.

The coupler, which will be available early next year, was introduced at the Fire Rescue International exhibition in Dallas last month.

“We feel that maybe now is the right time to set a standard so the dream we’ve always had about compatibility of tools will become a reality,” said Uwe Kirchner, president of the hydraulic equipment group for Hale Products. “On top of that, you get some great features.”

Among the features the new coupler will offer is the ability to change tools with or without pressurized lines, freeing staff from having to turn the hydraulic power on and off while rescuers change from spreaders to rams or cutters.

“It’s good from a price point too, because you don’t have to go out and buy new tools for want of a coupler,” Kirchner said. “Innovation is not a bad thing. We don’t block innovation. It’s a good idea and it’s time for a standard.”

Last year, Holmatro Rescue Equipment introduced its trademarked Core Technology, a revolutionary new product that permits one-line connections and a coupler that circulates the hydraulic fluid back to the pump when tools are disconnected.

Hurst’s one-step system is similar but uses coaxial lines to circulate hydraulic fluid. The coupler will be available for tools operating at 10,000 or 5,000 psi using phosphate ester or mineral oil.

“It’s the answer to interoperability,” said Bob Linster, sales and marketing vice president at Hurst. “When firefighters arrive at the scene of a large mutual aid incident with their Amkus or Holmatro, or whatever, this coupling is the answer for interoperability. They can all work together using the same power pack, so this really resolves the interoperability issue.”

The new coupling, which was still in a prototype phase at the show, accepts the traditional two-line tool hydraulic feeds by threading into the coupling. Kirchner said some tools might need adapters to go from the line threads to the coupler, but those are readily available from suppliers dealing in hydraulic lines, and in some cases, they might be available at the local hardware store. One of the new coupler’s built-in features are swivels that keep the lines from becoming tangled during operations, according to Kirchner.

“It’s rotatable,” he said. “With a rotatable function through it, all the lines that are carried around are always going straight when you pull them.”

In explaining the coupler’s finer points, Kirchner said Hurst was able to get the functions of the two lines into the one coupler.

“All the other couplers on the market today, if you try to disconnect under pressure, you’re getting overflow or it is locked,” Kirchner said. “With our coupler, when you disconnect, you get automatic return. The person at the rescue scene can connect and disconnect whatever tool he wants whenever he wants, a ram, a cutter, a spreader, and without having to call back 50 or 100 feet or more to a person to have him shut off the pressure.”

He added that the coupler is a “plug and play” type device that works automatically when the lines are threaded into the coupler.

“You’ve got two hoses coming in from the power supply and you screw them in the coupler and you’ve got two going out to the tool,” Kirchner said. “The coupler knows exactly how to divert the flow so it works right away.”

Kirchner said he knows of no fire department that has an overabundance of staffing, so freeing a person from the power pack is a huge plus.

Preserving Staff

“The stupidest thing you can do is to waste one guy at the power pack, waiting for someone to yell, ‘dump the pressure, pressure, dump the pressure,'” Kirchner said, imitating an exchange between the tool operator and the pump operator.

Linster said that when the coupler used with a Hurst power supply designed to power two or three tools, the labor savings are even greater.

“That way, you have independent switch over and one guy doesn’t have to pay any attention to any of it,” Linster said.

The goal of Hurst, according to Kirchner, is to get people out of harm’s way quickly and safely.

That’s why the company has also invested in technology to keep firefighters and rescue personnel safe when performing extrications on hybrid electric vehicles.

Also on display at the show in Dallas in Hurst’s booth was the Cen SC14 Fi Combination tool and the Cen C9 Fi Cutter, both of which have unique electrical current insulation, providing extra safety for rescuers when cutting charged parts of all kinds. The tools are being sold under the Hurst Centaur brand.

Tools For Hybrid Vehicles

“As fuel prices rise, the number of hybrid cars are going to be found on the roads more and more,” Kirchner said, adding that Toyota, Ford, and BMW already have electric vehicles on the road.

“They are really going to be a problem for rescuers someday if they don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

That’s why Hurst developed the new line of tools incorporating non-conductive plastics and non-conductive hoses with different materials in the handles to keep rescuers safe from electric shock.

Linster said another tool feature is a plastic covering that changes from red to yellow when it comes in contact with high voltage.

“It’s designed to give the guy who makes the cut time to get away from it,” Linster said. “When it starts to change colors, it gives them a chance to get their hands off it.”

To keep everyone safe and to save time even before rescue operations begin, Hurst in conjunction with Moditech Rescue Solutions, developed educational computer software, called Crash Recovery System, a mobile vehicle safety information database.

Linster said the software covers 20,000 vehicles providing information about locations of air bags, batteries, fuel lines and harden reinforcement protection.

“It makes firefighters more efficient,” Linster said. “If they don’t know where these things are, they waste a lot of time looking for them.”

In demonstrating the software, Kirchner pulled up a Hummer on a computer screen in the booth. The color-coded legend showed the location of the batteries, the fuel tank, air bags and extensive reinforcement areas. It also offered solutions for shutting off or deactivating areas where rescuers might be in peril from hazards during extrication operations.

“We are on the cutting edge, internationally,” said Kirchner, who is not only responsible for operations at Hurst in Shelby, N.C., but at its sister company, Lukas, in Erlangen, Germany. “Lukas is the predominate brand in Europe and we are in India and China as well.

We are working in all the regions with common interests. We have to change our technology as the automotive industry changes. …If you are not a global player, how do you know what is coming from Europe? How do you know what is coming from China? That’s why we keep our eyes open all the time.”

Hurst Jaws of Life is a division of Hale Products, a world leading provider of emergency services equipment used in defense, rescue, firefighting and industry.

For information call 800-537-2659 or go to www.jawsoflife.com.

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