New posting from Ron Moore, Forum Moderator <rmoore@firehouse.com> regarding the Slim Jim hoax.

I received an interestering posting from Mr. Rusty Haight <RustyHaight@worldnet.att.net>. It deserves a mention due to Rusty's unique crash experiences.

Rusty wrote;

Ron:

By way of introduction, I am a staff fcaulty instructor with the Texas Engineering Extension Service, Texas A&M University. We're the same folks who have the Fire Protection Division at College Station but my division is Law Enforcement & Security Training. I develop and teach traffic accident reconstruction. As part of that training, I conduct crash tests
(car-to-car crashes). I have done more than 525 crashes including 4 with airbags. Although they aren't side impact air bags, I have at least a good familiarity with the air bag system particularly since I was the driver in those 4 crashes and "experienced" the air bag first hand as it were.

As to slim jims setting off airbags, in short (no pun intended) it can't be done. The sensor isn't in the door so that isn't going to be contacted and the wiring for the system contained in the door is completely segregated from the areas accessible to a slim jim. It just isn't going to happen.

Sure, there have been instances where steering wheel bags have deployed into EMS personnel who shorted the system with cutting tools at the steering column, but that's beyond what a slim jim is capable of.

In short, this slim jim story is a classic urban legend just like the gas the bags use being toxic or the powder/smoke/gas causing chemical burns.

Best,

Rusty

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Rusty is correct and I hope everyone has spread the word about the Slim Jim hoax from the Summer of 1997. Refer to the May 1998 University of Extrication article for all the details.

Most importantly, auto makers warn us that our probing around inside the car door can disconnect, disable or destroy the wiring connections powering the side airbag
devices. Now, several month later when the auto is hit broadside and the side bag does not deploy, the negligence will be traced back to the firefighters trying to unlock the door.

SOG suggestion:
If you receive a request for a lock out of a vehicle,
1) determine the extent of the "emergency" first.
2) If you find a justified life-threatening situation, break a side window, clean out the opening, unlock the door, access the interior and stabilize the "emergency".

3) If there is only inconvenience to the citizen due to being locked out of their car,
explain that the department is no longer permitted to attempt door unlocking procedures.

Once explained;
a) offer them a phone to call the car dealership or a local union locksmith.
b) offer them a ride to obtain their second set of keys
c) summon local locksmith agency for assistance

As firefighters, there IS a limit to what we can do for customers at lockout incidents.