Deployable Rollbar Systems

To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse.Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network:

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
SUBJECT: Deployable Rollbar Systems
TOPIC: Design and Operation of Deployable Rollbar Systems
OBJECTIVE: Identify the presence of and understand the operating features for deployable roll-over protection systems
TASK: Given images of late-model convertible vehicles, locate the deployable rollbar system and explain its operating features

5_extrication1.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
Responders working on rear-seat patients must remain clear of the “pop-up” zone of deployable rollbars found on vehicles such as this Volvo convertible.

5_extrication2.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
The deployable rollbars on this Saab convertible are hidden beneath the two panels along the rear deck. The silver tags on each rollbar cover panel state “Do Not Cover.”

This article reviews a unique occupant protection system that is appearing on an increasing number of new convertibles in recent years. Although the system has been around for several years, there is a good possibility that you and your medical and extrication personnel are unaware of it.

Certain late-model convertibles are equipped with a hidden, pop-up rollbar system instead of the standard permanent or integrated rollbar. During a rollover crash, the new deployable rollbars operate similar to toast popping up out of a toaster. Instead of toast though, heavy steel rollbars suddenly appear from beneath the rear deck area behind the rear seats while the vehicle is flipping over. To prevent the occupants from being crushed as the convertible rolls over, these systems sense vehicle tilting angle, forward speed and even weightlessness to predict that a rollover accident is about to happen. If the right conditions are met, the rollbars push up through their covers and lock into position in a fraction of a second.

It is critical that emergency responders become familiar with the appearance of the different designs of rollbar rear headrests, covers or deployment panels. In a rollover, they would have already deployed and locked in position. The safety concern for responders is when the convertible has crashed but not rolled over. The deployable rollbars, also known as Roll-Over Protection Systems, or ROPS, get their power from the same circuits that power the airbags and seatbelt pretensioners. As we all know, accidentally shorting wires that are still energized during our extrication work can cause things to happen that we don’t want. One such scenario could be accidental deployment of the rollbar system. This would be especially dangerous for responders working over the back of the vehicle such as when holding manual spinal immobilization on injured rear-seat occupants.

Study the images provided to become familiar with the different system designs. Visit a new-car dealership to look at these systems firsthand. At incident scenes, emphasize the importance of shutting down the vehicle’s electrical system. This minimizes the chances of an accidental rollbar deployment. In addition, just like with loaded airbags, keep personnel, equipment and patients clear of the “pop-up” zone.

5_extrication3.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
Volvo refers to its deployable rollbars as “Roll-Over Protection System.” The letters “ROPS” are all that will be visible on the rollbar covers.


5_extrication4.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
One style of BMW deployable rollbar has the words “Rollover Protection” visible along the top edge of what looks like the rear occupants’ headrests.

5_extrication5.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
These two different styles of deployable rollbar systems from Mercedes look more like tall headrests. With the gray vehicle, the back half of the headrest pops up to become the protective rollbar during an emergency. On the tan vehicle, the entire headrest moves upward to become the rollbar. Note also the side airbag ID along the rear panel of this two-door vehicle.


5_extrication6.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
These two different styles of deployable rollbar systems from Mercedes look more like tall headrests. With the gray vehicle, the back half of the headrest pops up to become the protective rollbar during an emergency. On the tan vehicle, the entire headrest moves upward to become the rollbar. Note also the side airbag ID along the rear panel of this two-door vehicle.

5_extrication7.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
Audi’s convertibles have deployable rollbars underneath the panels along the rear deck of the car. The printing on each states “Do Not Cover” and doesn’t say anything about rollbars being underneath!


5_extrication8.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
From outside during your approach to this BMW involved in a head-on collision, you should note that the deployable rollbars have popped up. This occurred because the rear of the vehicle became slightly weightless as the front of the vehicle crumpled.

5_extrication9.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
An interior view of the deployed rollbars on this BMW show the added height above the headrest that is necessary to protect the occupants from being crushed in a rollover.


5_extrication10.jpg
Photo by Ron Moore
This hoop-style deployable rollbar design is used by Mercedes on several models of convertibles. The low-alloy steel is structurally very strong.


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.

Loading