Received a question from a fire department officer asking about the pros and cons of hydraulic floor jacks being carried on a rescue unit. The question was what about using them at an entrapment scene.
In all my travels over the years, I have encountered maybe a handful of fire department rescue units that carry hydraulic floor jacks for use at auto extrication and entrapment scenes. To carry this tool would be by far, the exception to what I see across the United States. There has to be a reason for this.
When questioned about how this repair facility, tire changing, vehicle maintenance tool actually functions at incident scenes, comments such as 'It's quick", It's easy to use", It wasn't expensive" are relayed to me. The same individual admits that they've never really used it in the Real World; they just think it would be a good idea.
On the other hand, when one really looks at this tool, there are potential reasons to doubt its usefulness and question the degree of safety that it offers to our members. The device is typically on wheels; fixed wheels on one end and swivel wheels on the other. That may make stability on inclines a safety issue. Remember, tire changing and body repair shops usually have flat, smooth, concrete floors; not asphalt, gravel, or soft ground like we might encounter.
The device has a 'hair trigger' release that will drop the jack's piston almost instantly. One wrong move by the jack operator and the victim or a crew member could be caught.
The tool does not fit into tight spaces like the tips of a power rescue tool spreader or a rescue airbag would.
Storage of the unit, assuming a crew is carrying a 5-ton or larger capacity jack, is an issue. These units are not designed to be folded or placed in a typical compartment. These larger lifting capacity units are also heavy in weight. The ergonomics of handling and carrying a floor jack is a consideration as well.
These issues and others could easily be evaluated by using a floor jack and completing several scenarios in a simulated realistic environment.
When I do find floor jacks at a fire station, they are typically provided to the members for vehicle maintenance tasks on vehicles while in quarters. Jacking and shoring tasks at entrapment scenes are left to more common vehicle rescue tools, designed for rugged environments and with familiar safety features incorporated into them.
What do you think...?
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04-26-2013, 02:35 AM #1
Floor Jack or Not?Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
04-29-2013, 04:49 PM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
proabley no more dangerious than usung spreaders to lift.?
04-29-2013, 04:53 PM #3"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.Ē
--General James Mattis, USMC
04-29-2013, 08:12 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
04-29-2013, 09:34 PM #5
Absolutely nothing wrong with floor jacks. We have one on the squad.
However, they are used only as lifting devices, not stabilizing. So lift an inch, and crib an inch. And if you need to life something quickly, they work great.
I've heard it used more for vehicle fires and fuel spills, when you want to lay a foam blanket down and get get under the car (or so I was told).If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!
05-07-2013, 09:30 AM #6
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
I think it is a great tool to have in the "tool box". No it will not fit all applications, however I believe it has a purpose. There is not one tool that will handle any and all situations, thats why rescue companies carry a vast compliment of tools. The floor jack has some significant lifting capabilities, low profile allowing access to limited spaces, quick to deploy. Lift a car off a "back yard" mechanic or pedestrian struck by car and is now under the vehicle. We as rescuers tackle complex and dangerous task, that is why we must understand and know our equipment limitations AND fully understand the task we are trying to accomplish. Any tool is unsafe if applied incorrectly, we must use the floor jack in a safe manner, not over rate its WLL and crib as we lift.
06-18-2013, 01:45 AM #7
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
We used the floor jack the other day for a pt that was pinned and dragged for about a mile under the car. He need to be extricated right now. As others have stated lift and crib an inch. It was very quick the total operation was done within 5 mins of arrival. Much quicker then if we had set up the air bags.
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