THE SERIES... Part 1: More Steel Part 2: Advanced Steel Part 3: Cutting Tools Part 4: Power Cutters Part 5: New Rescue Techniques SUBJECT: Advanced Steel TOPIC: Extrication Challenges of Advanced Steel in Vehicles: Part 2 OBJECTIVE: The rescuer will understand and explain the...
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For rescuers, the new application of advanced steel is both good news and a challenge. Real-world responses are showing that vehicles built with advanced steel integrated into their structural design are withstanding collision impacts with less and less injury and/or entrapment of theoccupants. This is a good thing. A recent frontal collision involving a four-door Jeep Patriot vehicle, for example, resulted in the vehicle going off the road and rolling over more than a full time. Afterward, three of the four doors still could be opened by hand, the roof line had minor damage, and the rear liftgate opened normally. Without the advanced steel skeleton, the invisible roll cage, integrated into this vehicle, crush damage would be expected to have been much more significant and the chance of injury and entrapment for the occupants much greater. In this case, there was no injury to the belted driver and no entrapment.
The rescue challenges of advanced steels are many. In appearance, it is impossible to tell the difference between mild steel, high-strength steel, and the new advanced steels such as Boron. They all look the same. It will actually be our rescue tools that will tell us that we're into something tough. It will be our reciprocating saw that won't cut the roof pillar. It will be our air chisel that won't cut the rocker. And most importantly, it will be our hydraulic rescue cutter, the tool that we've had in on our rescue truck for the past ten years and that has always done what we wanted it to do, that will absolutely stall out when trying to cut through these new advanced steels. When your cutter goes to bite the B-pillar of a late-model vehicle with an advanced steel Boron B-pillar, you and the tool will quickly realize that we've been out-gunned by these new steel alloys.
TASK: Given the information contained in Part 2 of this series and reference to a late-model passenger vehicle, the rescuer will be able to identify potential areas of the vehicle where its structural steel is or could consist of "advanced steel."
RON MOORE, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief and the training officer 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.