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Cutting Windshields With Recip Saw

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  • Cutting Windshields With Recip Saw

    Our department has just started in the Extrication business. We have all taken the training courses to be certified in our province.

    Dunring these courses we were taught how to remove a windshield with an axe, and with a speacialty window saw. I noticed on another post that it might be useful to use our recip. saw to cut the windshield.

    Is this advisable? I can see where the benefit would be gained from the speed, but does the potential danger of flying glass particles out weight the benefits? Are there other ways to remove the windsheild? Who has used this technique outside of training, and how has it worked?


  • #2
    The recip saw is great a tool for cutting the windshield. The only down side is the fine dust created can blow arround . However if you cover your patient and have your members doing the cutting or asissting with the cut wear filter mask you should be OK. Like anything else practice it first and use the proper protection and you'll find it works pretty fast.
    We have used the recip saw both in competition and on the real scene, there are many thoughts on windshield removal with time you will find what works best for your department.
    PS.Good luck in the extrication field.

    [This message has been edited by BPDenny (edited August 14, 2000).]


    • #3
      Put a 6 to 8 tpi blade in your cip saw, cover your patient, and let it rip.

      You can keep this blade marked for glass only, cause after you use it for a windshield it wont cut metal very well.


      • #4
        My department has used the 'Cip saw techinique before and it works extremely well. However, we have found that it's almost as quick to use the Glas-master Tool by the time you figure getting out the saw, running the cords, getting out the generator and starting it, etc. I took a class where the instructor and a few experienced rescuer's took the roof completely off with nothing but hand tools before another competing team could do it with all of the Saws and Hydraulics. Sometimes the Low Tech approach works just as well!

        [This message has been edited by capt105 (edited August 15, 2000).]


        • #5
          Respiratory protection is a must if you are going to cut the windshield. You don't want to be inhaling the dust.

          Generally if at all possible we don't cut windshields anyway. We cut the posts and fold the roof forward, this avoids the entire need as the windshield just peels out with the roof and doesn't spew the offensive dust/glass particles.

          Susan Bednar
          Captain - Forsyth Rescue
          North Carolina Strike Force 1


          • #6
            I'm with Susan entirely!

            If AT ALL REMOTELY possible - AVOID cutting laminated glass!

            I would go one step further than Susan - her technique is preferable to cuttign glass but it still causes small fragments and is quite manual handling hazard. I personally advocate a roof fold forward where relief cuts are placed in the roof close to the top of the windscreen. The roof is then folded forward and tied down.

            Effectively the glass is left in situ. I think this is the way to go - yes, it creates an obstruction in the dash area/front of vehicle - but 99% of the time you want to avoid the dash area / dont need to go near it anyway.

            My rule of thumb - if at all possible - DO NOT cut laminated glass.


            • #7
              "To cut or not to cut, that is the question...whether tis nobler to leave in place, or removith..." hey, depends on the situation thats sittin on the road in front of you. All of the above options are great, and depending on your situational requirements, may get the job done.

              IF, however you choose to cut the glass with the recip (which DOES work great), may I sugest that you lay down a strip of duct tape on both sides of the glass where your intended cut line will go...our experience is that this helps to reduce (not eliminate) the shards of glass that will enter the passenger compartment. Placing the duct tape doesn't take a whole lot of time (10-15 seconds). Of course all the comments about patient and rescuer protection still apply.

              Leave in place if you can, but if you need to cut, the recip saw (or glass saw/glass master) is a viable option you should practice and have on your option list.

              Stay safe!


              • #8
                The cut or not to cut debate seems to always surface in these types of posts and it is one of those that will go on and on. The scene you arrive on and the experience of your crew will generally help answer that question on each job.
                Now as far as the actual cutting goes, the 'cip saw is awesome. The fine dust is a problem since it is indeed fine glass, however your patient should be covered anyway.
                Now as far as concern in comparison to other methods, flying glass will always be present if you are making something that is one piece now become two. It is inherent in the process. There are several things out there to help reduce the amount of fragments and dust should you choose to cut. The duct tape works very well if you put it on and cut down the center of if. The other method that works very well is lining the cutting area with shaving cream. The only down side of shaving cream is it can get a little messy when it sticks all over your gear, etc. But it will hold down the dust and fragments.


                • #9
                  Roof removal by cuting the posts and flipping the roof over the hood is the way to go no time wasted cutting glass. It is also safer. It is taught in the PA Dept. of Health Vehicle Rescue Tech. class as standard in doing roof removal.
                  John Stauffer,
                  East Petersburg Fire Co.
                  Lancsater County, PA


                  • #10
                    How did I miss this post earlier? While it may not be the best choice, it is important to have windshield removal in your "arsenal" of extrication options. For that reason, you should practice it.

                    Personally, I don't have a big problem with laminated glass removal. We use a "GlassMaster" to do the sawing. For the time it would take to set up your reciprocating saw, I think the GlassMaster could pretty well have the window out.

                    Of course, we cover the patient well and don't go too wild in the sawing to cause a lot of fragments. Another thing you must keep in mind, especially in hot weather, is that the rubber seal holding the windshield in place could come loose and cause the glass to fall out. If you are flapping with a windshield in the frame and cut off at the bottom, be sure to control the glass in case it decides to fall out.

                    Richard Nester
                    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

                    [This message has been edited by MetalMedic (edited September 16, 2000).]


                    • #11
                      One more thing to remember with newer vehicles, folks:

                      Notching the roof just behind the windscreen with relief cuts to prepare for a forward fold of the roof could be very dangerous IF the vehicle has undeployed airbags above the side windows. Bummer! The forward roof fold is really handy if you need to work on patients in the rear seat and want to approach over the trunk area, but the roof-mounted side protection devices may force you to completely remove the roof instead.


                      • #12
                        For everyone concerned about the time needed to set up a recip saw for cutting a windshield, may I suggest using a cordless saw. We have used a cordless saw with good success in that application. In my opinion, MUCH easier than using a glassmaster.


                        • #13
                          A Posting from Forum Moderator Ron Moore

                          Discussion of partial or total roof removal must always include my advisory update on roof-mounted side impact airbag systems.

                          Currently BMW, Audi, Volvo and Mercedes have selected models with roof-mounted systems. More manufacturers will roll out large numbers of their vehicles with roof airbags each new model year.

                          My prediction is this. As these roof airbag systems becomes more prevalent, extrication personnel will do more total roof removals than partial removals.

                          Whether you call it "flipping" the roof, "flapping" or "flopping", and whether you move it rearward or forward over the hood won't matter. Your partial roof removal days are numbered!

                          I believe that in our very near future (and in reality right now) as you encounter a roof-mounted airbag system that has not deployed, you will totally remove the roof structure, cutting all roof posts and lifting the entire airbag system off the vehicle intact.

                          You will do it this way because you understand that this evolution is the safest for you, your personnel and your patient. It 'messes' with the roof airbag system the least and it is really an easy task to accomplish in a short period of time. Total roof removal will become the generally accepted standard roof evolution. There will always be exceptions and you can do the rescue any way you want to, but the norm will be total removal.

                          What will bring this evolution into stark reality will be when our next "Dayton' airbag incident occurs somewhere in this country due to deployment of a roof airbag system cut into during a partial roof evolution.

                          [email protected]


                          • #14
                            This question was raised in my company a while ago. We have purchased variable speed cordless 'cip saws. This reduces deployment time. We also use the saw to start at one A post and cut continuously through the opposite A post. This works well as long as a lower speed is used when cutting the laminated glass to prevent melting the glass to the blade. One tip I was shown in a recent extrication class that I took is to place foam shaving cream on the windshield where you will be cutting. This reduces the amount of glass dust and uses less time than duct tape. Our department protocol states that we will always cover any trapped occupants before beginning extrication operations usually with a disposable blanket. We still train on and use our glass master saws and our hand tools, but they are only used in incidents when options are limited.


                            • #15
                              What do you all think about a 'Halo Cut' that is avoiding the side and front roof rails and cutting flapping the roof skin, admittedly this does not offer the room but was a suggestion I have heard that avoids the problem areas of the SRS Curtains. Another point I like to make is "Strip before you Rip" that is remove interior body pannels to SEE where your problems will be rather than find them too Late. My vote to to the Windshield saw (Glasmaster etc,) It is fast, easy to set up and a "universal glass tool"

                              Carl D. Avery


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