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The Three Levels of Battery Shutdown

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  • The Three Levels of Battery Shutdown

    A question came up from a viewer watching the 'live' version of the webcast. This question gave me the chance to explain my philosophy of the three strategies for dealing with power shutdown. My thoughts reflect the reality of the situation. In my opinion, it is not always correct to grab battery cables and cut them. There are times when this act causes what I consider un-justified damage to the person's vehicle. it all depends on the situation. Fire officers on-scene should have the ability to determine if battery shutdown is a critical, nice to do, or not necessary task and proceed accordingly.

    I would challenge any fire department that tells me that their battery shutdown policy is that every battery on every vehicle gets cut every time.

    Question:
    Even with minor front end damage, is it safer to cut battery cables than risk having the air bags go off?

    My Reply:
    The way I explain battery shutdown is that it has three different degrees or levels of consideration. First, if you get there and there are no injuries and maybe there aren't even any occupants still inside the minor damaged vehicles, then a fire department rescue team might do nothing further to the electrical system. In our department in McKinney, we would probably just make sure the vehicle is moved off the traveled roadway as soon as possible. Once off the road, we'd put it in Park, turn the key off, and probably not do anything more to it.

    The second level of consideration is one where you have a crash and there is still an occupant seated inside the vehicle. They will be packaged and brought out but they are not trapped in any way. All doors open normally and time is not critical for this patient. In this case, in our department, we will locate the battery and disconnect both the negative and then the hot cables at the terminal posts by using pliers or a crescent wrench for example. We would most likely not cut the cables.

    In the third situation, it is a serious crash, people are trapped, and we are going to commit tools to get them out. In this case, we would access the battery and 'double cut' the cables as soon as practical. We want the airbag capacitor to drain down to make things as safe as possible.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

  • #2
    Mirrors our policy. I like to unhook them when we can. On SOME vehicles that can be a bit of a chore. Sometimes it isn't necessary. T.C.

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