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Car Fire Hood Strut Avoidance

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  • Car Fire Hood Strut Avoidance

    Received an interesting question from a State fire instructor about car fires and the series of articles I've written on pressurized vessels. Here's the question for us all to consider.....

    Hello Chief. I do remember reading about the case study of the strut
    peneterating the FF's thigh. I was wondering about dealing with the
    issue of opening a stubborn hood of an involved engine compartment fire in
    the absence of the new penetrating tools on the market. I thought about
    using a halligan (point end) and making several holes on a safe side of the
    hood (if possible). I will try this at the next training I do. What is you
    thoughts on this?

    Well, I didn't like his suggestion so here's what I wrote back. What do any of you think?

    REPLY: Regarding forcing a hood, the lessons learned from all the strut failures I was able to study from across the U.S. is that you should NOT be doing anything to the front a vehicle while there is a fire under the hood.

    Seems that the new style of approach is going to be a 90 degree approach toward the driver's door. (Pretend that it is the side that you are parked on with the Engine.) Sweep the water spray underneath the vehicle to cool the undercarriage components while at a safe distance. If there is a breach of the firewall with fire extending into the passenger compartment, then shoot in through the front door window to hit the instrument panel.

    Then, move forward along the side and discharge into the wheelwell area. You're still out of the line of fire of the hood hinge struts and the bumper struts.

    With a penetrating appliance, here's where you'd hit it down through the hood. Without one, take the forked end of the Halligan and pry up the side edge of the hood above the strut tower area. Discahrge water into this crack and get the fire in the engine compartment knocked down completely. The steam conversion will be beneficial.

    Only after near complete knockdown would you mess with any portion of the front of the hood. Personally, I recommend prying up the sides of the hood further and cutting the hinges. I use a cordless recip saw that we carry on all our Engines. Then open the hood in a forward motion using the front latch which is still shut as a new 'hinge'.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

  • #2
    agree. I learned the prying from the hood hinges last year and it has been working great. Most of our trucks have some type of 4 or 5 foot flat pry or breaker bar on them. I use that and place a piece of cribbing under it for leverage. If you get 4 or 5in of space your good to go. a good set of industrial bolt cutters will almost always be able to snit the hinges.

    Comment


    • #3
      We had a near miss on Thursday with a hood strut shooting past the engine officer. He was standing at a fourtyfive from the front fender and the strut traveled approx. 40 feet at chest level missing him by 3 to 6 feet.
      The car was made in the last few years and was well involved in fire.

      Be careful.

      Comment


      • #4
        Our approach has always been from the front corner, cooling the strut and bouncing water off the road and under the vehicle. As we make our approach with an 1 3/4, the nozzleman will switch to full fog and the second 1 inch line with a piercing nozzle attached will go into the fog and having made an "X" on the hood of the vehicle (in his mind) will slam the piercing nozzle down in one of the open quadrants of the "X". Nine times out of 10 he misses the engine etc and gets a good penetration. Charge that line, open the gate and let the steam do its work. Guy walks out of the fog and nozzleman returns to straight stream, bouncing and hitting wheelwell. (FYI-our piercing nozzle is shaped like an ax, not a straight p-nozzle)

        Now I find the idea of a 90 degree attack from the drivers door and working on the hindges very interesting. But... doesnt this place you very close to the front wheel shocks and struts? If you are taking the hindges with a recip saw, you would be very close to the struts with your head, wouldnt you?

        A problem we do see from time to time with the piercing nozzle is that some car manufactures are installing a plastic liner over the engine, under the hood. Very hard to penetrate that bugger! Also some of the newer cars and especially vans have a very full engine compartment and making a mental "X" doesnt help.
        Last edited by CAPPYY; 10-02-2005, 10:58 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CAPPYY
          Our approach has always been from the front corner, cooling the strut and bouncing water off the road and under the vehicle. As we make our approach with an 1 3/4, the nozzleman will switch to full fog and the second 1 inch line with a piercing nozzle attached will go into the fog and having made an "X" on the hood of the vehicle (in his mind) will slam the piercing nozzle down in one of the open quadrants of the "X". Nine times out of 10 he misses the engine etc and gets a good penetration. Charge that line, open the gate and let the steam do its work. Guy walks out of the fog and nozzleman returns to straight stream, bouncing and hitting wheelwell. (FYI-our piercing nozzle is shaped like an ax, not a straight p-nozzle)

          Now I find the idea of a 90 degree attack from the drivers door and working on the hindges very interesting. But... doesnt this place you very close to the front wheel shocks and struts? If you are taking the hindges with a recip saw, you would be very close to the struts with your head, wouldnt you?

          A problem we do see from time to time with the piercing nozzle is that some car manufactures are installing a plastic liner over the engine, under the hood. Very hard to penetrate that bugger! Also some of the newer cars and especially vans have a very full engine compartment and making a mental "X" doesnt help.
          I don't force any hood open, when it comes to underhood fires, I usually take the spike end fo the halligan, drive it though one of the front corners, and pry up so a straight stream can be directed through. It's worked fine on every car I've tried it on, even the "problem vehicles" that seem to have failures on a repetitive basis. I have yet to witness a failure, not that I do, but it seems as if these are rather random, and don't seem to happen on a regular basis as it may seem. Still somthing to be aware of though..
          FF/NREMT-B

          FTM-PTB!!

          Brass does not equal brains.

          Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to control it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by CAPPYY
            Our approach has always been from the front corner, cooling the strut and bouncing water off the road and under the vehicle. As we make our approach with an 1 3/4, the nozzleman will switch to full fog and the second 1 inch line with a piercing nozzle attached will go into the fog and having made an "X" on the hood of the vehicle (in his mind) will slam the piercing nozzle down in one of the open quadrants of the "X". Nine times out of 10 he misses the engine etc and gets a good penetration. Charge that line, open the gate and let the steam do its work. Guy walks out of the fog and nozzleman returns to straight stream, bouncing and hitting wheelwell. (FYI-our piercing nozzle is shaped like an ax, not a straight p-nozzle)

            Now I find the idea of a 90 degree attack from the drivers door and working on the hindges very interesting. But... doesnt this place you very close to the front wheel shocks and struts? If you are taking the hindges with a recip saw, you would be very close to the struts with your head, wouldnt you?

            A problem we do see from time to time with the piercing nozzle is that some car manufactures are installing a plastic liner over the engine, under the hood. Very hard to penetrate that bugger! Also some of the newer cars and especially vans have a very full engine compartment and making a mental "X" doesnt help.

            I teach to approach a front end fire from 45 degree angle from the rear of the car,wash out under the car from a distance approach along the rear door, bust the drivers window, cool the dash and A post in case of air bag, cool the tire and wheel well area,then with the ads end of a halegen bar slide in the edge of the hood raise a small opening and apply water,
            But your question got me to looking , maybe you have the idea right here.
            If we do the samething but use your long bar, slide it in the back corner of the hood and pry back against the A post it may open a big enough space to get the water in and be farther from the strut. I well try it in the next class.
            http://www.midsouthrescue.org
            Is it time to change our training yet ?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by pfd4life
              I don't force any hood open, when it comes to underhood fires, I usually take the spike end fo the halligan, drive it though one of the front corners, and pry up so a straight stream can be directed through. It's worked fine on every car I've tried it on, even the "problem vehicles" that seem to have failures on a repetitive basis. I have yet to witness a failure, not that I do, but it seems as if these are rather random, and don't seem to happen on a regular basis as it may seem. Still somthing to be aware of though..


              Don't let this become a false security, I am gathering reports of these events for my class, I am getting reports from 5 forum boards and I have already got over 150 reports of hood struts. It seems that they are happening on a regular bases, but they are not included in the incident report, just something that happened, something to talk about at the station.
              Look at the ones just on this forum (Vehicle Fires Help) and now here is another right here on this page.
              http://www.midsouthrescue.org
              Is it time to change our training yet ?

              Comment


              • #8
                PLEASE, everyone, take this very seriously.
                I have personally seen it happen, and had several occasions to talk with those that have seen it first hand. Like mentioned above, if no one is injured, it is not usually documented.
                Rescuers/Firefighters need to rethink the methods they use in fighting carfires. The car is a total loss almost immediatley upon catching fire, if there is no life at stake, why should a life/lives be risked? I know it is against all that is natural not to make an aggressive attack, but lets be sensible about how we do it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We use a variant of Ron's idea.We drive the spike end of the halligan in the HINGE end of the hood (approaching at 90 to the vehicle)and roll the hinge end corner open.This lets you apply water/foam/agent in a way that cools the struts but does not expose you to the "firing line".Leave the hood closed until the area is cool enough to be safely accessed.Open the corner just enough to get the stream in say 3 inckes or so.Cooling the spring/strut/wheel area along with the underside is also a crutial part of attacking todays vehicle fires.Be aware that all fuel systems today build tank pressure so any breeched lines will flow fuel until the pressure is relieved(by opening the gas cap or equivalent).Don't do this if the tank has been exposed to high heat /fire. Just be aware of the condition so when the tank has been appropriately cooled the pressure can be relieved. T.C.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LeeJunkins
                    [/B]

                    Don't let this become a false security, I am gathering reports of these events for my class, I am getting reports from 5 forum boards and I have already got over 150 reports of hood struts. It seems that they are happening on a regular bases, but they are not included in the incident report, just something that happened, something to talk about at the station.
                    Look at the ones just on this forum (Vehicle Fires Help) and now here is another right here on this page.
                    I don't let become a false security at all, I know it's a problem, and it's one I'm aware of. But we need to evaluate, during the sizeup of the car as to what stage the fire is in, and it's level of involvement. If I arrive on scene early in the fires growth I know I really am going to have to look out for them, as well as airbags etc. But if I arrive and find a fully involved car, the chance of the struts failing to a point where I or another part of my crew can be injured is obviously reduced. I though, still do not open the hood until I've had the chance to put a fair amount of water/foam under it.
                    FF/NREMT-B

                    FTM-PTB!!

                    Brass does not equal brains.

                    Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to control it.

                    Comment

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