Once again the overriding interest was in battery-powered self-contained fire rescue tools and The Future Direction of Rescue Tools. It is not a new idea; battery combi tools have been available for nearly 15 years and widely used for specialist applications such as rapid intervention. However, the last few years have seen dedicated battery tools (cutter/spreader/ram) enter the market. This has generated a lot of interest. Fire and rescue services are innovative, they always have been, so such tools will always attract attention. The general feeling is that this is the future in terms of hydraulic tools.
Battery rescue tool facts
It is important to understand a few basic points regarding battery-powered self-contained tools and I have compiled this list from common questions I was asked during the show:
- These tools are still hydraulic. There were some people who thought that they are purely battery-driven e.g. like a domestic drill used for DIY jobs.
- They produce exactly the same hydraulic forces as the hose/pump equivalent, i.e. the same cutting and spreading forces.
- As the tools are self-contained they require their very own oil reservoir, pump, motor and power source (battery). This affects weight and dimensions. This is not only for individual tools but also applies to a full set, especially when you have to figure in spare batteries, chargers etc.
What you need to consider
I think it is of paramount importance that rescuers are aware of what it means to move away from hose/pump-operated equipment to self-contained battery-powered tools. There’s a list of operational advantages and disadvantages and this has to be considered when making your decision. Consider EVERY possible application, every type of incident and how each type of tool would impact on how you work on scene. In addition to how the tools perform during a rescue, also consider what different equipment means in terms of testing, training, maintenance and service.
Options for success
Whatever your opinion, it is fantastic that there is such a tremendous range of equipment options available to the modern day rescuer. Having the right tool for the desired application is crucial and I have said many times that you must have options to be successful.
Written by Ian Dunbar
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