Volvo C-70 Door-Mounted Inflatable Curtain

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Subject: Volvo C-70 Coupe
Topic: Volvo’s Door-Mounted Inflatable Curtain Airbag System
Objective: Understand the design and function of the new system and its influence upon jammed door rescue evolutions.
Task: Given a 2006 or newer model-year Volvo C-70 automobile to study, rescue personnel shall become familiar with the design, location and operation of the door-mounted Inflatable Curtain airbag system and understand how this new system influences jammed-door vehicle rescue tasks.

With the 2006 model year, Volvo Cars of North America introduced the C-70 coupe as a two-door convertible with a retractable hardtop roof. The vehicle has many unique, state-of-the-art safety systems that work to make this an extremely crashworthy vehicle. There are three key items on this new generation vehicle of which rescue personnel must be aware.

This author recently had the opportunity to cut apart two 2006 C-70 vehicles as part of a program to conduct research on new vehicle construction and safety system technologies. This field work has spawned a three-part University of Extrication series that will focus on a new Volvo door airbag system (part one), the retractable hardtop roof of the C-70 convertible (part two) and the unbelievably tough high-strength steel safety cage structure of this vehicle (part three).

The Door-Mounted Inflatable Curtain

Until the 2006 model year, if a rescuer spoke of a door-mounted airbag, the assumption was that the airbag was mounted inside the door in a position that allowed it to deploy inward and upward during the first moments of a side-impact collision. Door-mounted airbags have, until this time, been designed to deploy through the interior door panel at a point just above the armrest.

The C-70 has a brand-new door airbag system with a design that as it deploys resembles toast popping up from a kitchen toaster. Officially called the Volvo Door-Mounted Inflatable Curtain, the new door airbags are mounted at the very top edge of the interior door trim panel. Surprisingly, it is not secured to the metal structure of the door, but rather only to the door trim panel. When its stored gas inflator is triggered, the top edge of the door trim opens up and the C-70’s airbag pops straight up.

In addition to this toaster-style airbag, side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger are integrated in the outer edge of each front seat. This location ensures that the airbag is always in the right position in relation to the occupant, no matter how the seat has been adjusted.

Jammed-Door Evolutions

In the event that the C-70’s door would be jammed after a collision and the Inflatable Curtain airbag is found undeployed, rescuers have several special precautions to consider. Jammed-door rescue considerations include any or all of the following:

• Force the door open in the conventional manner at the latch end by working the inner metal structure of the door, not the trim panel or door outer skin; or

• Use the vertical-crush technique off the A-pillar, keeping the rescue tool away from the center of the door and the loaded airbag; or

• Consider prying the inner door trim panel away from the metal structure of the door to move the airbag unit away from the rescue tool (we’ve never had the option of moving an airbag and a stored gas inflator out of the way before – now we do); or

• Expose the hinges in the conventional manner and attack them with a spreading or cutting effort to minimize disturbance of the loaded-door Inflatable Curtain airbag.

TASK: Given a 2006 or newer model-year Volvo C-70 automobile to study, rescue personnel shall become familiar with the design, location and operation of the Inflatable Curtain door-mounted airbag system and understand how this new system influences jammed-door vehicle rescue tasks.


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.

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