1. #1
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    Default Solutions for Cutting Exotic Metals

    A question received from a firefighter allows me to offer some suggestions for one of our newest challenges; exotic metals.

    Question:
    Chief Moore,

    I have a question about your recent article on Firehouse.com; how would we know if our tools are “new” enough to cut through these types of metals? At work we use Hurst and at my volunteer house we use Amkus. Would it be practical, depending on the situation on the scene, to use a plasma cutter or a petrogen torch system?

    I know a couple of months ago we had a t-bone accident involving a Toyota Prius. After we arrived on the scene and assessed the situation we decided to do a total drivers side removal (both doors and the B post) due to the patient’s size. After we removed both doors we started on the B post cutting the top near the roof line first then moving to the bottom near the rocker panel. The top of the post cut like butter but we had problems with the bottom of the post. Neither the Amkus speedway cutter, the o-cutter nor the saws all would cut through the post. We ended up getting a small enough cut to bend it out of the way.

    What should we be looking at as far as solutions to these new challenges we are facing?

    My Reply:
    Your question is the Hot Topic of discussion among rescuers today. The 2007 model year vehicles have to comply with a new side impact standard so that's why there is so much talk about it and why we're seeing more exotic metals in vehicles. I really don't have a perfect solution yet but I do have several things to consider.

    First, try to cut first to see what you've got. Boron metal looks exactly like lightweight metal so cut and see if you can go through it normally.

    Next, be quick about having a backup plan or plans. If your hydraulic cutter is stalling out, quickly go to the recip saw or the air chisel as your Plan B.

    If you have tough stuff, then try cutting a distance away from it. For example, the reinforced metal may only be in the B-pillar and not the roofline. So, if you cut the roof rail to each side of the top of the B-pillar, you may have a chance at finding a soft spot.

    Another consideration, some automakers only reinforce a portion of the B-pillar. That area is usually from the window level up to the roofline; our usual cut zone. So, if you have a stall while cutting, move down the pillar closer to the top of the rear door hinge and see what happens. You may just be able to get below the reinforced structure.

    I will not recommend plasma cutters, abrasive blades on rotary saws, a cutting torch, or tools like a petrogen cutter. Not on my watch!
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

  2. #2
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    I have been experimenting with one idea, I have a video of it on the extrication tips page of the web site, click on 2005-06 Nova B post. In looking at the new B post you can see that the top forms a T which extends about 3 in. on each side of the post, as was said in other threads we can set out about 3 in. on each side and make a pie cut into the roof with no problems.
    I am experimenting with placing a step chock on each side of the post to protect the integrity of the floor board and with a saws all about 3 in. from the post cut straight through the rocker panel on both sides, bend the post down, now you only have the thin floor metal about 8-10 in. long make a straight cut on it and all is clear.
    We would have to pop both doors, rather than removing the whole side in one piece, but with the problems of the new metal it may be quicker.
    http://www.midsouthrescue.org
    Is it time to change our training yet ?

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    I actually thought about this while reading the original post and while it sounds like a viable solution to the top of the post, my concern would be with fuel lines along or near the rocker panel on the bottom. Obviously a visable inspection would be required prior to that action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wvffnj
    I actually thought about this while reading the original post and while it sounds like a viable solution to the top of the post, my concern would be with fuel lines along or near the rocker panel on the bottom. Obviously a visable inspection would be required prior to that action.
    That is my thoughts about it too, that is why I said I am experiment with the idea. I am watching to see if we find any vehicles that have lines running any where other than along the back side of the rocker panel. many cars have lines clamped to the back wall of the right rocker, but you can simply reach under the edge and bend them out of the way with your hand.
    One other concern would be like the late Buick and others with the battery under the rear seat. the battery cable runs along the inside of the right rocker in a plastic loom, this would not hinder us but it would be some thing to move out of the path of the blade.
    Other than that it works great, I have none it about 8 times now with no trouble.
    Last edited by LeeJunkins; 07-19-2006 at 06:23 AM.
    http://www.midsouthrescue.org
    Is it time to change our training yet ?

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    Last week we had an tool job on the interstate where we needed to do a total side removal. The Firefighter working the speedway cutter told me it would not cut the B-pillar at the rocker panel. When I looked at what he was cutting then I knew why. Tool placement is key, he was trying to cut through the seat belt pre tensioner, yes I remove all the plactic from each of the post prior to him cutting he was just to low on the post. Once he moved up a few inches it was no problem.

    You also stated you made your first cut at the top of the B-post then you cut the bottom, be careful when doing this, cutting the top first then the bottom will cause the top of the B-post to push in on your patient, so just be aware of this. We make our cut at the bottom first. As the extrication officer you need have a good plan with a back up, think ahead of the game. As for cutting torches on a vehicle only as a last resort. STAY SAFE

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