Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lakeside Firefighters Train on New Technology Vehicles

Lakeside Station 3:  

Exotic Metals; Enhanced Safety Systems; Alternate Fuels; New Extrication Methods. These are just a few of the topics Lakeside Firefighters reviewed at a recent Field Care Audit coordinated by Firefighter-Paramedic Eric Stamm.

Steve Carpenter discusses new airbag systems in today's vehicles. Firefighters need to learn the potential hazards of these systems in rescue situations.
Increasingly, firefighters face new technology in vehicles that require new techniques and equipment. The most significant change in the modern vehicle is the introduction of high-strength steel. This steel provides a safety cage around the occupant while decreasing overall vehicle weight. 

Firefighters look over the advanced technology in the Honda Civic Hybrid
Firefighters look at the new technology in the 2011 Toyota Prius.
 In many cases, the strength of this steel exceeds the cutting power of modern rescue tools. Thus firefighters need to exploit other weaknesses and find “work around” methods. There was a day when rescue tools with a cutting force of 30,000 pounds could quickly disassemble most vehicles. However, some of the new metals in cars today require a cutting force of 200,000+ pounds, and in some situations even that isn’t enough.

Hybrid vehicles contain new technology steel that ultimately makes them lighter.
Locating the HV battery packs on today's hybrids is essential for safe operations. Crews look over the battery location on the Prius.
 Another technology in a constant state of change is airbag systems. Not only have there been great advancements in construction and placement of these safety devices, but the computer systems that control their deployment have become smarter. And while these systems have saved thousands of lives, these systems can pose a hazard to rescuers should additional bags deploy during rescue operations.

With the price of gasoline spiking in 2008 (and recently), the interest in hybrid and electric vehicles has exploded. It is vital that firefighters know how to work around these vehicles during rescue operations. The introduction of high voltage electrical into the rescue matrix simply means crews need to understand the systems.

Lakeside Fire would like to thank Steve Carpenter of FS3 (distributor of rescue tools) for conducting the class. We would also like to thank DCH Honda of Lemon Grove, and Toyota of El Cajon, for providing the hybrid vehicles.

Crews from Lakeside Fire, CalFire (Flinn Springs Station), and San Diego Federal Fire attended the training.

Submitted By: Fire Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

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