· Whenever possible, the saw shoe must be held firmly against the material being cut. This will prevent the saw from jumping or vibrating and will minimize damage to the blade’s teeth. Not keeping the foot of the saw in contact with the material being cut is the number one reason for ineffective reciprocating saw cutting at crash scenes.
· Do not force the tool or bind the blade. This diminishes battery life on cordless reciprocating saws. Create a rocking action by moving the body of the saw up and down as you cut while the foot remains in contact with the material being cut. Maintain the appropriate pressure against the material for the most effective cutting action.
· Protect yourself and your patient during the operation of the saw. Rescue personnel should don appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses or goggles. Patients should have "hard" protection such as a KED or XP-1 immobilization board placed between them and the cutting blade.
· Blades are hot immediately after operation. Do not grab a used blade by the working end. Open the blade clamp and allow the blade to fall out of the end. Burns on fingertips are painful!
· Avoid accidental saw starting. Be sure the safety switch is in the locked position before making adjustments to the tool, inserting a fresh battery pack or changing the saw blade. Store your saw with the safety in the "locked" or "on" position.
· Do not operate a corded or cordless power tool in an explosive atmosphere. Power tools create sparks internally and externally, which may ignite dust or flammable vapors present in the area.
· For teams working with the newer generation of cordless reciprocating saws, remember to protect the exposed battery terminals from contacting any metal objects such as nails or screws. Metal across the terminals will short the battery out and may cause sparks, burns or a battery fire.
Blade Manufacturers Contact Information
Lenox brand bi-metal "DEMOLITION" blades are available from: American Saw & Manufacturing Co. 301 Chestnut St. PO Box 504 East Longmeadow, MA 01028-0504 800-628-3030 www.lenoxsaw.com
Bi-metal "Demolition" blades are available from: DeWALT Industrial Tool Co. 701 E. Joppa Road Towson, MD 21286 800-892-4776 www.dewalt.com
Bi-metal "The TORCH" and "The AX" blades are available from: Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. 13135 West Lisbon Road Brookfield, WI 53005-2550 414-781-3600 www.mil-electric-tool.com
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.