07-02-2014, 10:34 AM #1
Cutting Stored Gas Inflator Systems
Received a series of questions from a Fire Captain in NY State about extrication work when stored gas inflators are present. Below are the questions and then my response. Anyone can chime in if you have anything further to reportů
"Chief; I have taken your airbag update course a couple of times and greatly appreciate the information you put out for those in our service. I have been approached in my department about a question involving side curtain airbags. When removing the airbags I Have been told that you can cut the metal tubing above the charge allowing it to be removed and leave the charge on the post. As I do not remember who told me this and I have not seen this done or performed it myself I wanted to verify that it is in fact a good option before I start to tell personnel in my department to practice this technique.
So my questions are :
1 Is this something that you feel is a viable technique?
2 How can you tell where is a safe point to cut?
3 Is there any video or other information that will help teach this technique?"
Yes, it is possible to cut through the distribution tubing of a roof-mounted airbag system. The key point is that only the stored gas inflator cylinder itself contains any pressure. There is a risk in doing this as was mentioned in the original story, this would "leave the charge on the post". The inherent risk is that if the inflator does accidentally discharge while cutting tubing (which is unlikely but not impossible) or after the tubing is cut, there will still be a discharge of gas out the open end of the tubing. It just would not be directed into the roof airbag.
So, Yes this is a possible technique to consider if you have to remove the roof and can see where the tubing is. You would have to strip away the trim material to see the inflator and the discharge tubing to know where to cut. I do not know of any videos showing this technique. I guess no one of us has ever experimented with hot-wiring a roof airbag and firing it off after the tubing has been cut to see just what happens. I'll try that next week on a new vehicle I have to cut up and see.Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
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