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Is It Time to Change Our Training Yet? Part 2: Exploding Hood Struts

Is It Time to Change Our Training Yet? Part 2: Exploding Hood Struts

Sacramento, CA, Metro Firefighter Chris Marsh.

Lee Junkins, Midsouth Rescue Technologies

In Part 1 of this series we discussed the dangers that airbags present, when involved in a vehicle fire.

Another danger that we face in today’s vehicle fires is the Compressed Gas Strut.

Most of us call them hood struts, thinking that they are used to hold the hood up. This is true, but they are also used on trunk lids, hatch backs, tail gate glasses, pick-up toppers, tool boxes and now on many third row seats.

On Nov. 21, 2004 Drew Hill a Windsor Locks, CT firefighter was injured by an exploding gas hood strut while fighting a vehicle fire. The fire was confined to the engine compartment. Drew was attempting to open the hood, by releasing the hood latch with a halligan bar, when the passenger side hood strut exploded and fired through his bunker pants, boot and lower leg. The square piece seen on the shaft is part of his boot that the medics cut off.

“I moved to the passenger side of the vehicle and started to extinguish the fire through the front grill when all of a sudden, we heard a large explosion,” said Marsh, explaining about a gas strut exploding under the hood of the vehicle.

The cylinder end of the strut shot out through the engine compartment and grille and pierced Marsh’s bunker gear and upper leg. The strut was so hot it actually cauterized his wound as it pasted through. Just missing his femur, it exited through the back of his leg and was found 50 feet down the road.

In another incident both hood struts blow out, one went through the radiator support, through the head light bulb and pierced a firefighter’s glove and hand.

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