The "Biggies" Of Heavy Rescue

Gene P. Carlson and Matthias Borchert discuss the fire department rescue crane, which is widely used in Europe and now catching on in the United States.


The European fire service has not become as involved in providing emergency medical response as fire departments in the United States. This has led to an expansion of services into other areas to be a productive unit of local government. The areas in which the fire service has enhanced its work is...


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The cranes are especially useful in structural collapse incidents, since most European construction is masonry or concrete. Hand-operated portable tools do not have the lifting capacity to move large masonry slabs. These units can be used to remove trees and debris from streets after hurricanes, tornadoes or severe wind storms. There are many uses for cranes at structural collapses caused by these storms or an earthquake. They also have applications during flooding.

Some fire departments in the United States have begun using cranes in rescue operations; others are still contemplating the idea.


Gene P. Carlson is a fire service training and education specialist at Oklahoma State University and has over 35 years of fire service experience. Matthias Borchert is a former firefighter and fire officer with the English Forces in Germany. He develops, translates and prints fire service materials in Germany and is a member of the Fire Brigade Society.