1. #1
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    rmoore's Avatar
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    Dec 1998
    Plano, Texas

    Default Lightning Deploys Airbags at Incident

    Received a qeustion from a British Columbia Canada fire officer that brought to mind an interesting lightning strike incident.

    Here's the question: . . . . .

    Hi Ron, here’s another question for you.

    Last night we attended a scene where a Full Size Dodge Ram had T-Boned an older Mercury Topaz.

    The front of the Dodge took the direct impact and was hardly damaged, and neither of it’s Front Air Bags had deployed.

    The occupants of the truck were being taken out and were mostly ok.

    When we arrived I noted that neither airbag had deployed and that no safety precautions were being taken.. keys off, battery disconnected, etc.

    Here’s my question.. the lady in the front seat was a minute away from being taken from the vehicle while a group from another department were working on trying to open the hood to disconnect the battery.

    Is it possible to deploy airbags by crossing the battery connections, or, by causing a spark on the battery connections, considering the vehicles Safety System may be compromised by the frontal collision?

    My Reply: . . . .
    Yes, it is possible to have undeployed airbags deploy during extrication work. Anytime a stray electrical charge reaches the airbag circuit, unpredictable and unwanted things could happen.

    In September, I taught a class in the Detroit area. One fire officer told of a lightning strike call they had at a residence. The strike hit the driveway blacktop near the garage door. The house lost power and the scared residents called for FD. During their investigation, the crew found that both front airbags inside the family's car parked in the driveway had deployed due to the lightning strike. The hit was about 40' forward of the car sitting in the driveway.

    Airbag Emergency Procedures have'nt changed much since 1990. Take away the vehicle's power, identify undeployed airbags near your patients, and remain clear of the inflation zones. Those are just some fundmental guidelines to be aware of.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

  2. #2
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    Aug 2008



    Check with the Fire Chief, Dennis Lebeda, at Schulenburg, Tx Fire Department. A friend of mine is a FF in the same county. I was told that this summer the department responded to a vehicle on I 10 that was struck by lightening and all of the airbags deployed. There was a local newspaper article about the incident. I will try and get more info if I can.

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