1. #1
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    rmoore's Avatar
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    Dec 1998
    Plano, Texas

    Default An error in a skill sheet based on IFSTA?

    For those of you in the Kentucky fire service, I think we have a problem. Here's the original question and my answer. What do you guys think?

    I understand that it is not used quite as much now as in the past due to safety reasons however, IFSAC has a skill sheet for Collapse Vehicle Steering Column - IFSAC II skill #6-21 http://www.kyfa.org/docs/new%20skill...s/ff2/6-21.pdf

    This skill sheet requires that a steering column not be pulled on front wheel drive cars.

    I am just curious as to the reasoning. Can you advise?"
    You asked for an explanation of the KY skill sheet on extrication. You referenced me to the following URL: IFSAC II skill #6-21


    The sheet seems to indicate that rescuers should NOT pull a steering column with a front wheel drive vehicle. Specifically, it appears that the skill sheet does not want a power spreader to be used for the front wheel drive vehicle column pulling task. The skill sheet bases its info on IFSTA 4th edition. It appears that if a student in a FF II class in KY is given this assignment during his state test, he would fail unless he states that front wheel drive vehicle steering columns should NOT be pulled.

    This is incorrect. The KY skill sheet is incorrect. The IFSTA text is also incorrect if in fact it states to NOT pull this type of column. I'm sorry that new FF II members of the KY fire service are being trained that pulling these columns is wrong.

    I state that it is acceptable to "pull" a column on a front wheel drive vehicle. This can be done safely and very effectively. I personally teach this procedure and have done this actual task on several occasions in the real world without incident.

    The mis-information as reflected in IFSTA and in the KY skill sheet comes from the fact that front wheel drive vehicles have a rack and pinion steering column; what I call a "split column". The column is comprised of several sections joined by knuckle joints. Back in the very early 1980's, when vehicles like the Plymouth Horizon and the Honda Civic first hit the US market, rescuers became aware of the split column design.

    What we had been doing up until this time was use a power spreader to pull most all steering columns. An instructor in Florida wrote and had published a story about what he perceived as the high risk "hazards" of pulling a rack and pinion steering column. He specifically stated that as the column bends forward, these knuckle joints would be stressed to the point that they would
    violently fail, exploding into the driver seated right there. In fact, the instructor used the statement that the failure would "fillet the trapped driver".

    Well, with a little experimentation, I found that saying to NEVER pull a split column was incorrect. I can and do today pull columns as a demonstration just to try to kill this old Urban Legend. You have to monitor the 'action' end of the job and the 'reaction' end of the job as the work is being accomplished. The front wheel drive vehicles we encounter today in the US have a rack and pinion steering column assembly so the concern is not going away any time soon.

    When pulling a split column, the upper column section moves away from the driver. As the steering wheel moves away, the knuckle joint near the floorboard will also move out of alignment. It is in a slide-in sleeve boot arrangement right near where the column passes through the floorboard. Watch this floorboard area for any undesired movement as you pull the column. I've done as many as 4 complete openings and closings with a power spreader to pull the column and steering wheel into a straight up position just to prove the point and still had nothing more than the knuckle joint simply disconnecting from its boot as it slides out and dangles free. I have never had a "violent explosion" as was first predicted back in 1980. That's the old, antique idea; not pulling a rack and pinion column.

    Why do we still need to know several ways to pull a column? With power rams and dash ramming or dash jacking, most would say that pulling is old school and an antique way of doing things. Well, how do you free a driver trapped by the column, dash, firewall, and floorboards when you have him trapped in a side-resting vehicle, driver's side down? You do it your way but as for me, I'll probably pull the column, rack and pinion design or not.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

  2. #2
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    firefighterbeau's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Central ND USA


    So its ok to pull the column in front wheel drive vehicles as long as you monitor the situation? How about vehicles with tilt steering? Those were the ones that we have always been stressed not to pull, because the knuckle for the tilt is higher up on the column.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2005


    Last edited by Lieutenant387; 05-02-2005 at 06:16 PM.

  4. #4
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    Rescue101's Avatar
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    Jun 2001
    Bridgton,Me USA


    Beau,I'm not a big fan of pulling columns.It is still a viable option.To pull a "tilter"just hook you chain/strap BELOW(dash side)of the tilt knuckle.That part of the column has a solid rod running to the next joint. T.c.

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