SUBJECT: Door-Hinge Design TOPIC: Understanding Door-Hinge Design and Effective Door-Removal Techniques OBJECTIVE: Given a vehicle door that is opened and required to be removed from a crash-damaged vehicle, the rescuer will recognize the specific door-hinge design and employ the most...
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If cutting either style hinge with a power cutter is the Plan-A technique to be used, then the tool operator must know whether the size and thickness of the metal making up the "C" or solid design hinge is able to be cut with their tool. A cutter that is not powerful enough when put up against a big hinge that consists of thick metal, may stall out. You have to realize that if you intend to have your cutter bite through the entire hinge at one time, then it has to be powerful enough to cut through double the thickness of metal that you see. This is because many times, the "C" hinge crushes as the cutter closes, making a double layer of steel hinge to cut through. If confronted with a "C" hinge for example and you are doubtful that your cutter can do the job, angle the cutter down from the top and place one blade of the cutter into the hinge so you cut just the top leaf of the top hinge all by itself. Then make a second cut that severs the bottom leaf of the same hinge. Making two cuts per hinge is not a waste of time if the job gets done. A less-than-powerful cutter that tries to bite through both leaves of a big "C" hinge for example might stall as the hinge crushes together but doesn't cut. You should not put yourself in the position of having your cutter stall out because the hinge squeezed together and exceeded the capability of your cutter.
For late-model vehicles, prepare yourself to deal with cutting through or breaking the door retainer strap or linkage once the hinges are cut. This assembly will be somewhere between the top and bottom door hinge. In addition, you will also have to deal with the thick power cables, referred to as the "umbilical" cord. It will take more than a pair of paramedic shears to cut through some of the larger, thicker umbilical cords on vehicles today. Be prepared for this. The tool operator should have a hand tool with them to cut through the umbilical if they are not using a power cutter to take the door off in the first place.
Rescue teams should closely study door-hinge designs during their next extrication training session. Knowing what tools you have in your inventory and what techniques work best for the "C" hinge and the solid hinge will make for more efficient operations at real-world incidents.
TASK: The rescue team shall study the fundamental door-hinge designs and develop effective techniques for each when given the assignment for door removal at the hinges.
RON MOORE, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is training chief for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He also authors a monthly online article in the Firehouse.com "MembersZone" and serves as the Forum Moderator for the extrication section of the Firehouse.com website. Moore can be contacted directly at Rmoore@firehouse.com.