|Hagerman (N.Y.) Fire Department firefighters use a Hurst eDRAULIC cutter on an older vehicle’s C post. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Janet Haddon)|
|One of Hurst’s new cutters was used to remove the roof, doors, and fenders from a new Volvo XC60. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Janet Haddon)|
The latest hydraulic rescue tools from Champion, Genesis, Holmatro, Hurst, and TNT were gratefully made available to firefighters and Emergency Services Unit members from departments on Long Island, N.Y., during a New Vehicle Technology (NVT)/Advanced Auto-Extrication training program held in September at the Medford Fire Department.
The vehicles provided for this two-day NVT training program were 2010 Volvo XC60s, Mercedes Benz ML350s and Mercedes Sprinter vehicles. Additionally, students were provided with an initial round of older pre-NVT vehicles on which to practice new techniques and to get a feel for the difference of how rescue tools perform on NVT vehicles versus the typical older vehicles on which we regularly train.
As students made their way past “Manufacturers Row” to the H.O.T. area, the new line of eDRAULIC (electric over hydraulic) tools from Hurst Jaws of Life with their unique self-contained look created quite a stir among the participants. The Firematic Supply Co. provided us with the eDRAULIC SP 300E spreader, the S 311E cutter, and the S 700E cutter.
First-impression comments by the firefighters using the electric Hurst tools were primarily about the weight difference between the SP 300E spreader (44 pounds, plus the weight of a Bosch 25.2-volt battery) and the S 700E cutter (54 pounds, plus the weight of a Bosch 25.2-volt battery).
As they were put to use, the Hurst tools appeared to operate at relatively the same level as the majority of the other manufacturers’ tools, especially on the older pre-NVT vehicles. When using these tools on the NVT Volvos and Mercedes, one of the challenges students faced was understanding the dynamics of Hurst’s electrically powered two-stage hydraulic pump.
As cuts or spreads were initiated, students seemed to want to give up as the tools encountered high-strength steel components before allowing the tools to build maximum force in the second stage of the pump’s operation. Once the learning curve was achieved, firefighters were able to use the new tools as suggested.
My fellow instructors and I observed that approximately 15 standard cut or spread attempts were about as many as one new fully charged battery could support before it needed to be changed or before the tool needed to be placed on 110-volt shore power. The Hurst tools seemed to operate a bit slower than traditional two-stage hydraulic tools. However, considering the self-contained platform of the tools, “a bit slower” may be a worthwhile trade.
On the second day of training, instructors were given an opportunity to use these new electric tools on the new cars. At the conclusion of the weekend, we got together and critiqued the eDRAULIC tools that we used. Some of our impressions were as follows:
- Hurst’s new blade design on the S 700E seems to be quite an improvement. The curve of the blade tended to draw the material being cut into the “heart” of the blade faster than with other models.
- The “hoseless” portability of these new tools can definitely make quick work of routine door pops and other extrication maneuvers similar to those handled by traditional combi-tools and mini-spreaders.
- The larger S 700E cutter seems to be quite a bit heavier than other tools used, although it was nicely balanced.
- The smaller S 311E cutter could be great for tech rescue and other specialty uses.
- These tools will not replace traditional heavy-duty hydraulic rescue tools, but they definitely have a place in the fire service of today and tomorrow.
All the specifications for this new line of tools can be found online from Hurst, with one exception. There are no advertised cutting forces for the cutters.
Bill Simmons, general manager for Hurst Jaws of Life, told me, “Hurst intentionally excluded the cutting forces of their eDRAULIC line of rescue tools from their advertising in an attempt to encourage firefighters and potential buyers to determine for themselves what these tools are capable of, rather than simply depending on an advertised cutting force.”
Simmons did offer cutter ratings pursuant to tests specified in the latest edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s 1936 Standard on Powered Rescue Tools. The ratings for the two eDRAULIC cutters are S 311E – A7/B8/C6/D7/E7 and S 700E – A8/B9/C8/D9/E9. The letters refer to different material categories: A, round bar; B, flat bar; C, round pipe; D, square tube; and E, angle iron. The numbers show performance levels in each of the categories, with 9 being the highest possible score.
Hurst said these new tools will “take up about half the space on a fire apparatus, compared to traditional tools with power plants and hydraulic hoses.” Although this claim may be true on a total-cubic-inch basis, these new tools will likely require custom fabricated tool boards on which to mount them in the rigs. With the eDRAULIC cutters (S 311E and S 700E) measuring in at 34 inches and 36 inches, respectively, in length (without the battery in place), these tools are certainly not “compact.”
As with any battery-powered tool we use in the fire service, the new Hurst tools are only as good as the condition and charge level of the batteries that power them. Hurst Jaws of Life obviously had this in mind when someone thought to include a 110-volt shore power adapter for its line of electric over hydraulic rescue tools.
Editor’s Note: Carl Haddon is 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 Fire Department in Idaho and is a career veteran of more than 25 years in the fire and EMS services in southern California. He has also served since the 1980s as a fire/safety director for numerous racing organizations, including Penske Motorsports, NASCAR, USAC and Mickey Thompson Racing. He is a certified Level 2 fire instructor, an ISFSI member and teaches 5 Star Auto Extrication and NFPA 610 classes across the country.