1. #1
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    Question Porto-Power Info

    I found this item in a compartment on our rescue truck. It is a Blackhawk Porto-Power hand pump unit with a spreader, ram and other accessories. I am curious if this was ever sold to the fire service as a rescue tool. I found the info about the company that made it, but it had no info about making rescue tools, only tools for body shops. I was told that we used to keep it as a back up to our Hurst tools, but we now have their rabbit tool & brake cutter hand pumps. Also if anyone can tell me when it might have been made/used. I think mid-late 1970's. Our old ambulance service carried it, before my dept. got hyd. rescue tools. I was going to give it to our local historical org., to add to their exhibit about my dept. (They have our '63 Mack Eng.). Any help would be great. Also I have a couple of pics too.
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    Last edited by sq51kmg365; 02-07-2008 at 11:16 PM.

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    I wouldn't get rid of it. Hell I'd hold onto the thing (meaning as a dept). Always good to have a plan B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I......etc. I know of alot of departments that still carry old porta powers. Sure with alloys and such in todays cars they might not be as effective as before, but in many situations it is even a better idea than the HRT.

    The way I have been instructed is to try every available option except the HRT. So if the tool does in fact fail, you do not freak out and panic since you dont have the HRT. You might be surprised what a porta power and jacks, bottle jacks, air chisel, hacksaw, socket set, halligan, axe, and other assorted hand tools can do on a scene. Some departments I know of try to extricate pts from about half their wrecks this way to stay proficent.


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    2 of 3 dept's I have worked for still have a few sets around. Though I have never used them for a real incident, they could come in handy if your jaws were ever to fail. We carry a very old set on our rig and a few others in the city.

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    Thumbs up Well................

    H.K.Porter & Co. is (maybe "was" I dunno for sure) the Premier company in the Porto-Power field. When I joined the department in 1958, we had one. Over the years some of us learned how to do darn near anything with Porto Power equipment. One item was a cap that threaded onto the Ram. The cap had a "Chisel" type end on it, with a groove in the center of the Chisel edge. (There is one shown the photo, above) I sharpened the edge, and deepened the groove, so that the Ram could be used to cut Metal. It worked!. My late Father was a Plumber, and he bought some very heavy wall Steel Pipe, and made extra lengths of pipe extensions for Shoring purposes. We were also doing Hurst Ram style Dash Rolls before Hurst came up with it. Now, For Today's World, Porto Power equipment is STILL a viable Rescue Tool. It is fairly light, Totally independent of any outside power source, and absolutely will not be affected by loss of electricity or running out of gas. Porto Powers are safe to use in a Flammable Atmosphere, Under Water, In extreme Heat or Cold, and can and will work, anywhere a Human can take it to. It is STILL worth having on the Rig, but Practice, Practice, Practice.
    Last edited by hwoods; 02-08-2008 at 12:21 AM.
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  5. #5
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    Keep it as a backup- for example, it may be used during an extrication and HAZMAT with flammable liquids. etc
    Luke

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    My dept has a similar if not the same port-a-power on our heavy rescue. A just in case thing.
    Hello. Fire dept.. You light'em, We fight'em!

    "hard working, gear jamming, nail driving, "jake". "

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    My department carried a set on our reserve engine as a back-up to our only set of "Jaws" tools until just a few years ago. They were showing their age and were prone to leaking, so they were retired. Now, both of our engines that see front-line duty have a full set of gas-powered hydraulic rescue tools and a heavy rescue is only a mutual aid call away.

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    My career FD carries them on the quints and ladder truck for use during car fires to pop the hood or for forcible entry where appropriate.

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    My FD carries ours on our front line engine. The tool works great for popping hoods at car fires and for FE like FyredUp said.
    The opinions I post to these forums do not represent any entity to which I am affiliated.

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    Like Harve,We've had 'em on our rig since the FD started doing Extrication.Still carry them and still use them.The set depicted is a Top of the line Rescue set.Later sets didn't have the big spreader and all the nice adjustable widgets. T.C.

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    In Idaho, if we want to license a vehicle as an extrication rig, we are still required to carry porto-power type equipment in addition to our HRT equipment.

    Like everyone else said, it can be extremely useful, but you have to practice with it.

  12. #12
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    It was a tool that was used in body shops. The fire dept got into using it back in the 1950's. It was all that had to use. The Hurst tool came to be back in the 1970's I think.

    If you want to get rid of it, drop me a PM and I'll get back to you.

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    We still keep a set on our rig. We even go so far as to train on them, occassionally having "races" with the old porto-power vs. the HRT's. Porto-powers in the hands of an experienced person can beat HRT's with door pops and such, especially if the operator knows what he's doing with them.

    Somewhere you should have a come-along (cable winch with a couple of chain sets and a handle) to complete the set. They used to use this to pull the steering wheel. Hook the chains to the frame behind the front bumper, hook another chain to the steering wheel and start ratcheting.

    You are right, they were originally (and still are to my knowledge) marketed to body shops. Their purpose is to move metal (sounds like something we do, don't it ). From my understanding, the history goes something like this...

    Back in "the day" the wreckers responded with the police and ambulance (ran by the funeral home) for wrecks. FD didn't even go, after all they only fought fire. The wreckers carried the porto-power systems that they used in the shop for body repair. Keep in mind, this is the day and age back when they made solid vehicles, not the flimsy crap we have now.

    When the FD's starting expanding into vehicle rescue, they took the "tools of the trade" from the guys who were doing it; wrecker drivers. Because of the inherent laziness of firemen (just a joke before someone starts on the rampage) someone found an easier way to do it rather than pumping, repositioning, pumping some more, repositioning, etc. (if you've ever used one, you know how tiring this can get if you're on the pump). What they developed was the HRT.

    Have some fun sometime and take them to a salvage yard and give them a try. I'll warn you, you have to use both of the spreaders to get the job done. If you've got a vet around that remembers how to use them, you'll get an experience and have fun doing it. You may also learn some tricks that will help you with the HRT's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My career FD carries them on the quints and ladder truck for use during car fires to pop the hood or for forcible entry where appropriate.
    Same here. They work great.
    "Train as if your life depends on it"
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  15. #15
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    Thumbs up And.................

    Just to add a couple of points: Catch22 did a nice post, and hit a couple of historic items. The HURST Tool was invented by George Hurst, who made parts and accessories for Auto Racing. (some of us remember the Hurst Shifters) Anyway, story is that a Friend of George's was trapped in a wreck on a Racetrack, and extricating him took a long time. George developed the Tool to speed up things, then we (Fire/Rescue) heard of it, and things went on from there. In some parts of the Country, (here in Maryland, for one) the Fire Service has always been involved in EMS and Rescue, so the expansion of service was a normal progression. My VFD placed it's first Ambulance in service in 1930, and we also ran an Engine on Auto Accidents since back then.
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    Everything that is done today with powered hydraulic tools, we did in the day with a porto power, come-along and an air chisel. It just took us a helluva lot longer.

    I hear Barbara Streisand singing in the background, "Memories..."
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  17. #17
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Thumbs up Yeah..............

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    Everything that is done today with powered hydraulic tools, we did in the day with a porto power, come-along and an air chisel. It just took us a helluva lot longer.

    I hear Barbara Streisand singing in the background, "Memories..."

    George is correct, and add Hydraulic Jacks, Long Pry Bars, and Hack Saws to the list. And, Back then, same as today, Rule #1 applies: You Can NEVER Have Too Much Cribbing.


    And: George!! I prefer Dolly Parton's "Your Memories......." But then, Dolly is two of the biggest reasons that I like Country music..............
    Last edited by hwoods; 02-09-2008 at 10:50 AM.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  18. #18
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    this is a required item on the list of basic tools to become a certified heavy rescue in ND, you can never have too many backups, learn how to use this tool, never know when you'll need it. I could also see its uses in RIT and structural collapse also

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