1. #1
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    Question Help with combo tool

    Our department has basic extrication equipment at this time. We are thinking about buying a hydraulic system but we are limited on space. We may be able to free up one compartment (24D x 24H x 48L) on a Pumper to store the equipment. We wanted to start with a combo tool for spreading and cutting, a few air bags, and a couple of rams. Several of us have gone to the state extrication schools and are familiar with the spreaders, cutters, etc that serve one purpose but we have never worked with a combo tool. We have need of this type of equipment once or twice a year and are currently assisted by the local rescue squad and a mutual aid department. Any input on combo tools would be appreciated. Sure this question has been posted before but I am new to this forum.
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    We use Homaltro (not starting the great debate ) I've used both the models of there combi tools and the work nice.

    We have the 3150 in the bumper of our rescue truck, works great for popping doors. I'm not crazy about how combi tools cut, I've used both Holmatro and Hurst and prefer cutting posts and such with regular "O" cutters.

    Best thing to do is get a couple of cars and pick two or three tool companies and have them bring out some demo equipment.
    Brian Jazudek
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    We run a full complement Hurst System. As stated, the combo tool is great for 95 % or your "rescues" that only involve a door pop or minor cuts. The combo's have a little more difficulty making some cuts. If all you have is the space listed, a combo tool and an Exntenda Ram should work nice for you. Don't forget that ytou're going to make room for cribbing/stabilization equipment. And don't be afraid to have a designated "Rescue" company dispatched as mutual aid.
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    Originally posted by Resqtech
    Best thing to do is get a couple of cars and pick two or three tool companies and have them bring out some demo equipment.
    Originally posted by SBVFD-RESCUE7
    Don't forget that you're going to make room for cribbing/stabilization equipment.
    That's the best 2 pieces of Advise that I can give.

    I have had hands on time with Hurst, Holmatro, and Amkus as well and giving a good trade show look at Phoenix, TNT, and Genesis. Every system has it's good points and it's bad points. It all boils down to what you're people feel the most confident using.

    Cribbing is also a biggie. Although 4X4 blocks are our bread and butter stabilization equipment, don't be afraid to "think outside the box" for additional / alternate equipment.
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    Default Combi Tool

    In my department we have a full complement of Hurst, Omni, & PowerHawk. If space is the problem, and the desired use is light extrication, I would recomend the PowerHawk, the unit is approx. 10"x 20" with a 10"x 12" Battery pack. They just came out with a combi-blade, although I haven't used it yet. The spreader attachment is more than adequate for door pops, and the cutter attachment will cut an A or B post in one evolution. They also have a ram that is extended and retracted using the spreader.
    The PowerHawk is not the end all, but it is a nice little package.
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    Thumbs down Combis - ArRGHH

    We have both combi tools and full size tools in service in our department. Personally, I think they should rename them half-a** tools because they can't cut or spread like their big brothers can. Sure, you can pop a door or cut a smaller roof post with them, but you can do the same with a hi-lift jack and reciprocating saw for about $300. And the price tag associated with a combi tool and power unit ($10,000) seems steep for a tool that can do limited duty.
    Space wise you're only needing room for 1 additional tool if you go the big tool route: 1 cutter,spreader,ram and power unit vs. 1 combi,ram and power unit. Do you have underbody compartments, is there space on your front bumper, can you move some non-emergent equipment up to the basket to make space?? Can you put a bracket in the compartment that will allow you to mount one tool above the other?? If you're that limited for space, you may want to reconsider carrying the airbags if you can't carry enough cribbing to safely conduct a lifting operation (maybe put the bags and a supply of additional cribbing on a support rig).
    We're the ones people call when they're having the worst day of their life, so when you demo the tools think heavy entrapment scenarios. Go through a full range of jobs you may have to do and compare the half-a** tools to full size tools. Open and remove doors, cut the roof off, perform a complete side laydown, a maxidoor evolution, dash jacking with the spreader,etc. and I think you'll see the weaknesses and limited capabilities of these tools. Don't just assume all you'll ever have to do is pop a door. Good luck.

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    When you are evaluating the tools (as I hope you will) try doing a "dash roll" with a victim in the seat. When you go to cut the bottom of the A pillar, you will find that getting a cut far enough into the car will cause some problems with the victims feet. Combi tools stick too far in to get to the cutting blade when doing this. Combi tools allow for only 1 rescuer to be working at time. Separate spreader/cutter allows 1 to spread and 1 to cut simultaneously. Combi tool is better than nothing, but 2 tools are better than 1.

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    Thanks for all the information. We have had several companies talk to us about doing demos at the station and I am in the process of getting cars donated now. As far as cribbing, we carry several crates of it on our midi-pumper in compartments and have more stored in the dunage area up top. The midi-pumper is our main 10-50 response unit. It carries our high-lift jacks, saws, and generator with scene lights. When I said pumper in my post I should have stated midi-pumper.
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    Contact Blue Ridge Rescue Supply your local TNT Rescue rep. at 540-537-0958. They offer a viper combi tool that allows you to cut and spread along with a single pump that allows you to hook up two tools and operate one at a time. The pump is on a Honda 3.0 motor, and the pumps 1st stage kicks in at 5,000psi, and operates at 10,500psi. It's small and compact. Try it, you will love it!!

    Good Luck

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    I am not a big fan of combo-tools as the first order of business (in so far as what you buy). As was mentioned, the problem is getting enought of a cutting service to do anything but nibble away. One person had mentioned a reciprocating saw and a spreader, which is a great basic tools set (since you mentioned limited cabinet space). The combo-tool and other items should be viewed as 2nd level to purchase items. One other thing; training... often training makes the assumption that the complete array of tools is available. As a result skill exercises are based on this assumption, as well as assuming that you are only doing cars (excluding trucks of all times, and vehicles of all times, and in all sorts of positions). Having trained on over 1,200 different vehicles I can you basic moves and tools will solve almost every problem know. I have yet to open a door using a combo tool by doing a jack lift on the frame body under the b-post as I have done with a basic spreader.

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    Try the Genesis system you wont be sorry. Commonwealth Rescue systems in Va. Tried and certified!!!

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    We have a need of this type of equipment once or twice a year and are currently assisted by the local rescue squad and a mutual aid department.
    If it's only once or twice a year, why not leave it to the rescue squad?

    Save the money and buy a thermal imager camera or something else that will get better use and be more beneficial to everyone....
    Luke

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    I have had the chance to use combi-tools from hurst, lukas, and halmotro. They all have pro's and con's, the thing to remember with a combi-tool is that it's all technique for the most part. Practice, practice and more practice will be the key to becoming profiecent with a combi-tool. Of course you won't be able to do all the things that a full set of hydraulics will do, but for most runs it will prove to be all you need. The rescue sqaud I run with leaves the combi-tool preconnected on the reel, it's lighter and will usually do the job needed. We only break out the full set on rare incidents.

    As far as brand that I prefer, they are all pretty good all around tools, maybe buying the same brand as your local rescue sqaud would be worth your money. This way if you both get to a scene your tools are compatible, always nice to have a back-up.

    As far as cribbing, 4 step chocks and few peices of loose cribbing will mostly get you through, but it's always nice to have extra. You may find that more storage space will be needed on the truck to carry what you need evetually.
    Firefighter/NREMT-P/Public Safety Diver
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    Somebody mentioned the downfall of the cutting ability of the combo-tool as opposed to dedicated cutters. For a small Dept, I think a combo tool is fine provided you have additional cutting tools (hacksaws and recip saws). We have had just a combo tool for years and it amazed me the first time I saw how fast a good team can can totally dissasemble a car with 3 or 4 hacksaws...We always train with power tools AND hand tools because you never know when a power tool can go dead...Especially when it comes to engines (is your hyraulic pump ever started/maintained more than once a year?) and anything battery operated.


    SubArcticFire

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    FireAdvocate, you lost me on that last sentence: "I have yet to open a door using a combo tool by doing a jack lift on the frame body under the b-post as I have done with a basic spreader."
    Are you referring to using a big spreader to rip away the bottom portion of the B-post during a 'Maxidoor' (aka B-post rip) evolution??
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    Thumbs up combie tool

    The problem that you run into with combie tools is limited spread and lack of axes to cut. Try the TNT combie it has a limited spread but you don't need a lot of room because this tool cuts threw the tip with a 9" cut it is a art to work with combie tools so train train train!

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    Default Re: Help with combo tool

    Originally posted by Firefighter430
    Our department has basic extrication equipment at this time. We are thinking about buying a hydraulic system but we are limited on space. We may be able to free up one compartment (24D x 24H x 48L) on a Pumper to store the equipment.
    Why buy a "combo tool" when you can buy a true spreader/cutter? We have the Phoenix 35/25 Rescue Tool which has not failed us yet to do whatever we ask it to do. What makes Phoenix different is that while the tool will spread and cut, the cutters are replacable. This means that if by some quirk of fate you do break a cutter on the took, the tool is still in service since the spreader arms are not affected by this. If you keep a spare set of cutter blades, you simply replace them and you are back in business. If you have to order a set, you still have your spreader in service during the time it takes for the new blades to arrive.

    Whatever you decide to do... train with the tools to see where they might be lacking so that you can work around that potential with other options. It might be tight to get the cutting surface in some places, but you might be just as well off to use a reciprocating saw to make those cuts while your hydraulic makes cuts elsewhere.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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    The Pheonix tool has worked pretty well for light duty stuff but anything real heavy duty you need seperate tools (like the old man killers!!!)

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    Originally posted by cgr
    The Pheonix tool has worked pretty well for light duty stuff but anything real heavy duty you need seperate tools (like the old man killers!!!)
    I suppose if you have identified the need for a larger tool, you can justify the Phoenix 49/35 Rescue Tool. I have one of those on my "in my dreams" wish list for our new Rescue Truck just to have around for those "special" jobs. This tool uses the same cutting system as the 35/25, but has a larger hydraulic cylinder and spreader arms to develop more force.

    What kind of jobs have you come across where the 35/25 did not have enough power to accomplish the task you needed it to do? As I have said before, ours has never let us down.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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