One of those "stories" that actually has real, true-life verifiable details to it:
From the Connecticut Fire Listserv:
On Sunday November 21, 2004, the Windsor Locks Fire
Department responded to a reported car fire. Upon
arrival the fire was confined to the engine
compartment. During gaining access to the engine
compartment, one of my firefighters had just released
the hood safety latch when the hood shock strut
exploded and fired into my firefighter, striking him
his upper thigh and piercing completely through his
leg and bunker pants with the approximate 18 inch long
strut. He is home recuperating and we will not know
how extensive his injury is for awhile yet. I wish to
make other departments mindful that these struts are
gas filled and are common on General Motor products,
in particular Buicks that I am aware of. In my 30
plus years on the fire department this is the first
I had ever heard of one these gas filled struts
exploding like this.
The fire and accident remain under investigation.
Please pass this along to other firefighters to be
aware of the potential for these shocks to fail when
exposed to fire. I am just grateful that this
accident did not have a worse outcome. Picture of the
question is on our Department's website at
Gary Ruggiero, Chief
Windsor Locks Fire Department
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11-30-2004, 11:44 AM #1
Windsor Locks, CT...Struts...Maybe more car fire related, but...IACOJ Canine Officer
11-30-2004, 01:28 PM #2
One of the leading reasons I put a halligan into the hood and roll up a frt corner.Then flood the snot out of the compartment.Then and only then do we CAUTIOUSLY open the hood and extinguish and remaining hot spots.With this method you have at least a thin metal shield between the struts and you.Be VERY alert to the bumpers too,we've had issues with those lately as well.Thanks for the "Heads up".T.C.
11-30-2004, 01:54 PM #3
Ya know, I'm trying to remember where, but I remember reading a story that is almost exactly the same details a few months ago. I want to say that Ron has even mentioned this happening once or twice before."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
11-30-2004, 03:11 PM #4Originally posted by Bones42
Ya know, I'm trying to remember where, but I remember reading a story that is almost exactly the same details a few months ago.
11-30-2004, 04:48 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 1999
- Glen Rock, Pa
Also, think about how they "nest" into the closed position. They lay in the seam between the inner fender and the underside of the hood. This gives them the "Gun Barrell" effect that they need to be a directional projectile. Look at the crack between the hood and the fender, this is where they will most likely come out the front of the car.
11-30-2004, 04:50 PM #6
Along the line of Rescue101's lift the corner and flood it...
This story sounded like a good reason to remember the bayonet nozzle. We use it frequently as it is, but even when we can pop the hood easily, take the little extra time to pop it on and zing it through the hood/wheel well and really cool off the engine compartment before opening.IACOJ Canine Officer
11-30-2004, 06:23 PM #7
Also, don't forget these things during extrications. Many people forget about them when doing roof removals....
I hope our brother is back to work soon.........
11-30-2004, 08:31 PM #8
- Join Date
- Dec 1999
- Upstate NY
Sorry to hear about the injury. I have some pictures of another one in CA (i think). Nasty injuries, hope he does well.
To prevent this in the future, try the Augustus fire tool. It is a hammer style piercing nozzle... cool it first then do what you need to do. Take a look at it at www.augustus-fire-tool.com
I am not Mr Augustus, but I think it is a really decent option.
Take care and stay safe.
Last edited by kromer1; 11-30-2004 at 08:33 PM.
12-01-2004, 12:47 PM #9
I am showing my age now.. we have talked about these before, but it is always good to refresh our memories on such safety concerns. My department had a similar situation as well, although I cannot recall what make or model car it was. This was a few years back, but as our engine was pulling up to the scene, one of these cylinders launched through the headlight of the car and shot under the engine.
Along with the shock absorbing bumper, this is yet another reason to not approach a vehicle fire from the front of the vehicle. As always, it is the things that you don't see that are most likely to get you hurt.Richard Nester
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
"People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter
12-01-2004, 10:14 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
- Virginia Beach Virginia
First, best of luck to our Brother Firefighter. Ron Moore was kind enough to offer up a CD on his expierence in vehicle extrication, and other fire related training. On this were incidents on strut explosions from vehicle fires. This same incident happend in LA county from a vehicle fire when they approached an engine compartment fire from the front. Both struts let loose, 1 impaled in the FF's lower calf, the 2nd traveled approx 50' striking a metal frame door then landed near the front of the Engine. Once you see this or expierence this you will or should have already changed your tactics on vehicle fires, I know I have. Stay Safe.
12-06-2004, 03:45 AM #11
Yo Bro good post. Just last month we had a similar strut explosion in a vehicle fire in a 93 Ford. We pulled up and as the guys were pulling hose and I was setting the pump we heard a "BANG" then a ppfffffewwwwww!!!! and then a clang clang cling cling and the strut hitting the pavement. What happened was that it (the cylinder not the rod) shot out the headlight, then it flew between the Lt. and nozzleman (knee high) and by my tibia's under the engine, past the cop directing traffic across the street and landed 285ft (Yes I measured) away from the starting point. This first hand experience further proves the need to continue approaching at 45 degree angles (the corners) and not 90 degrees (front, rear and sides) on Vehicle Fires and MVA's with fire that have engine compartment involvment. It would also be prudent to keep everyone (gawking observers) clear as well.
Best Regards to our Brother in Windsor Locks Fire Dept.
Be Safe. Jordan
Last edited by NB87JW; 12-06-2004 at 01:28 PM."Making Sense with Common Sense"
Motor Vehicle Rescue Consultants
( MVRC@comcast.net) Jordan Sr.
12-06-2004, 12:30 PM #12
- Join Date
- Dec 2004
I thought I would share this photo with everyone. These are Drew's bunker pants with the actual strut going through them just as it did that night when it blew. This will give you an eye opener as to how serious this is. Drew is home recovering, however the final outcome of his injury will not be know for some months. Well wishes can be left on our department's web site at www.wlfd.com . Thank you to everyone who has already responded. Drew is very grateful for everyone's kind words and thoughts.
FF Al Roberts
Windsor Locks Fire Dept.
12-27-2004, 11:14 AM #13
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
- Wilmington, Vt.
Al, Interesting stuff!! Hope the guy is okay and hasn't lost any range of motion.
Back in the late 70's we pulled up to a fully involved single story ranch with an attached garage. We parked our attack truck on the street and laid out lines. As things were being done a 15Lb piece of "something" hit the metal handle that holds the hard suction on in the area just to the right and above the pump operator. With no idea what just happened, we searched the area after the fire was knocked down. (it was winter with snow on the ground) We found our "piece".It was one of the hydraulic front bumper shock complete with the bumper mounting plate attached.
The garage door was closed upon our arrival but, apparently the car inside had heated up enough and "Bang". Right out the door, off of our truck inches from the Pump Operator and ricocheted some 30 feet further into the snow. Total distance traveled: 106 ft to the truck and 35 feet after the hit with a weight of 15 lbs. We also looked for the other front bumper shock as well as the rears, Nope, have no idea how far they went!!!
So watch out guys! Everything is out to get us!
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