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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

Is it time to change our training Yet?

How can we attack these? As we progress through this series we will find that to safely attach today’s vehicles, with all of the airbags, gas and pyrotechnic inflators gas struts, plastic gas tanks, pressurized fuel lines, and magnesium parts, we must first determined that the fire fits one of four categories.

1. A front end fire. (From the front bumper to the firewall)

2. A rear end fire. (From the rear bumper to the back of the rear seat)

3. A compartment fire. (From the dash to the back of the rear seat)

4. A fully involved fire. (From bumper to bumper or any two of the others combined)

Let’s look at a front end fire, knowing that an early model may have bumper struts that can explode, and that the hood strut may explode and exit either forward or diagonally, we can approach the fire diagonally from the rear of the vehicle.

1. We can cool the airbag inflator possibly mounted in the A post, and cool the dash and frontal airbags

2. We are pushing the heat away from the compartment stopping the spread of fire

3. We cool the area of the hood strut. Then with the ads end of the halligan bar, slid in the space between the hood and fender, we raise the edge of the hood about three inches. Cool the strut and shoot a stream of water into the engine compartment. In experimenting with this we learned that steam conversion is the best tool we have for vehicle fire fighting. Once you shoot the water on the engine, be sure to push the hood back down, holding the steam in. Using this method we are never exposed to a flash of magnesium splatter when the water hits it and almost every time the steam extinguishes the fire

4. Cool the tire

5. Go around the non burning end of the vehicle and do the same on the other side

Another advantage to this method is by cooling the dash first you can now just reach inside and pull the cable to open the hood and mop up.

We will get a lot deeper into this, once we have seen the other dangers we face.

In Part 3 of this series well look at the plastic gas tanks and pressurized fuel systems used on today’s vehicles.

Read Part 1 of this series:
Is It Time to Change Our Training Yet? – Part 1

Lee Junkins joined the fire service in February 1964 at the age of 18. He is currently a certified NREMT, and certified tech in Rope Rescue, Trench Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, and Auto Extrication. He holds Advanced Firefighter Certification, Level II Instructor, and Certification Coordinator, certificates with the Texas State Fireman’s and Fire Marshals’ Association. He is a member of the National Fire Academy Alumni, with courses such as Challenges for Training Officers, and Public Education Leadership.


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