SUBJECT: Update: Model Year 2007 & 2007½ — Part 2
TOPIC: Unique features of late-model vehicles 2007 - 2007 1/2 Model Year
OBJECTIVE: Understand unique features of specific 2007 and 2007½ model year vehicles mentioned in this update column and understand how these designs and features influence responder safety at vehicle rescue incidents
Rear-hinged Doors and No B-pillar
Make sure you and your rescue crew are fully aware of the challenges of rear-hinged doors. The newest design from GM, provided on its Sierra and Silverado pickups, is an extreme example of how far a door can open. The large hinge assemblies on the rear door allow it to open almost 180 degrees.
The rescue challenge with any rear-hinged door is forcing it open. Review how and where these doors latch when closed. Forcible entry is not the same as if it were a forward-hinged door.
It is becoming more and more common for rescue personnel to encounter a vehicle at a crash scene that has no ignition key or ignition switch. Commonly referred to as a keyless ignition system, it may confuse the unsuspecting rescuer.
Instead of using a metal key, the damaged vehicle may have just a push button or a toggle button located to the right of the steering column on the instrument panel. This is the keyless ignition system.
With some manufacturers, the occupant of the vehicle must push the POWER button twice to get the vehicle to start. Other manufacturers use a toggle button that is pushed once. Regardless, responders must go to new-car showrooms and take a look at these systems. We need to know quickly how to shut off the ignition at a crash scene. The time to find out is now. You want your first experience with a keyless ignition to be during training, not during an actual incident!
The Mercedes "Starter" and "Supply" Battery
Beginning with the 2003 model year and ending with the 2006 vehicles, Mercedes-Benz utilized a two-battery system for several models of its vehicles, including the popular E-class and the SL-class. Rescuer must be aware of what Mercedes calls a "Starter" battery if they encounter one at a crash scene. Here's what it means.
Say you're at a crash involving a Mercedes and you raise the hood to shut down the 12-volt electrical system. You look around and find a battery on the passenger's side of the engine compartment right at the firewall. As you go to work on disconnecting or double cutting the cables, you see a decal on the battery that says "Starter" battery. That's your clue that this Mercedes is one that has two separate 12-volt batteries.
The second battery is in the trunk. The "Starter" battery is dedicated to powering the starter for the engine. The second battery in the trunk is labeled as the "Supply" battery. It is the main battery that provides power to the vehicle and all electrical components other than the starter.
At an emergency scene, you will have to shut down both batteries to assure that all electrical power has been taken away.
TASK: Given the specific vehicles mentioned to review and examine, the rescue team shall identify the components and features presented and shall develop operating guidelines for dealing with these specific vehicle challenges.
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.