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'Crash Course' Quick Drill Series - Part XXII

Many first responders are unaware that some car models are equipped with seat-mounted airbags can often be hidden in fold down seats.

As unusual as it may seem, seat-mounted airbags do not have to be located in rigid seats. Mercedes' R-class vehicle for example has third row seating capability. Engineers designed occupant protection to include roof-mounted and seat-mounted airbags. The challenge we run into is the fact that the second-row seat is a fold down design. The rear of the seat folds forward to allow occupants to enter or exit the third row seating area.

Because the second row seats are airbag equipped, the airbag is actually in the moveable portion of the seatback. The airbag folds down too. This is a little unusual and is something that responders might not expect. Truth is, seat-mounted airbags can be found in rigid seats as well as seats that fold down.

Crash Course Teaching Point: Responders must be aware that even second-row seats that may fold forward to allow access to the rear of the vehicle can be equipped with side impact seat-mounted airbags.

Be Informed...Be Ready...Beware!

RON MOORE, a Contributing Editor, is a battalion chief/fire training officer for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He is the author of the University of Extrication series, featured each month in Firehouse Magazine and is the moderator of the University of Extrication interactive forums on In 1984, he received the International Society of Fire Service Instructors George D. Post Instructor of the Year award for development of the first school bus rescue training program in the United States. In 2000, Ron was awarded the International Association of Fire Chief's "Excellence in Rescue" award. To read Ron's complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. You can reach Ron by e-mail at