Moore expects extrication will continue to evolve as UHSS become more common, with potential implications for the types of damage repairers will see in their shops. “The first-generation AHSS didn’t fight us the way Third-Generation AHSS does,” he says. “We’re up against a tougher opponent, one that often requires more extensive work. For instance, we’re finding that cutting is often necessary where spreading had been sufficient in the past.”
The common rescue toolkit of reciprocating saws, air chisels and hydraulic shears, spreaders and rams would be familiar to any repair shop. But just as repair shops have done when legacy tools proved ineffective against AHSS-intensive components, fire rescue departments have upgraded their tools in recent years.
These tools used by emergency responders are regulated under the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1936 “Standard on Powered Rescue Tools,” which was created in 1999 and updated in 2005 and 2010 to keep pace with evolving technologies. “Over the last decade, rescue tool manufacturers recognized what was going on with high-strength steels,” explains Moore. “Starting around 2008 or 2009, they began to produce a whole new generation of more powerful tools and new designs. Pretty much every fire department has traded in their older-generation gear, which usually dated back to the 80s or 90s but had since been outgunned by high-strength steels.”
Worth the work
According to Moore, emergency personnel appreciate the value of modern steels and often seek out AHSS-intensive vehicles for their own families. This is because fire departments are increasingly arriving at crash scenes where, in his words, “The cars are bent, crumpled and folded and we expect the worst, but the drivers are standing outside exchanging insurance information because the structure of the vehicle remained intact.”
A practical partnership for safer communities
Moore may joke extrication is essentially “a body shop in reverse,” but suggests the fundamental connection between rescue and repair personnel means there’s opportunities for both sides to learn from the other. Repair technicians can benefit from understanding how vehicles are modified during extrication when they’re working to return those vehicles to safe roadworthiness; while emergency personnel can benefit from collision technicians’ intimate knowledge of the vehicles themselves.
“I believe collision repair professionals have a great deal to teach emergency rescue personnel about the vehicles we’re likely to encounter,” Moore said. “They’re the experts, they know these cars, trucks and SUVs inside and out in a way we never could and can coach and advise us on things that might end up saving a life. But at the same time, if a repair technician has the opportunity to watch how we go about doing our extrication work, they may gain a new understanding of what needs to be done to repair the vehicle.”