More Power to Fire Fighting Operations
The use of high-cycle generators and tools is opening a new opportunity for improvement and advancement in fire fignting methods, in particular, the attack phases. Forcible entry, ventilation, rescue, salvage and other fire lighting procedures in which it is necessary to force entry, or conduct cutting operations, have in the past been accomplished almost entirely by laborious, tiring manual work, utilizing crude tools.
With modern power tools, this work can be done in a fraction of the time of formerly, with less men, less property damage, and greater safety. In fact, some fire fighting tasks once considered almost impossible can now be accomplished in amazingly short time with but one or two men.
That is what the Salt Lake Fire Department has proved to its own satisfaction, after experimenting for the past three years with some of these new modern tools at fires, and at the demonstrations held at the training school. Included in these experiments were use of chain saws, circular saws, hole saws, electric concrete breakers (jack hammer), wood drills, concrete drills, nibblers, motor powered metal cutting saws, portable hydraulic power rams and pumps.
These tools make possible cutting through concrete, wood, metal brick and other materials, and they can be carried and set up at the scene by two men. It takes only one man to operate the tools. Most of these tasks can be accomplished with little fatigue, thus leaving the men fresh to continue other duties.
Lighter Tools But With Greater Power
New developments are giving the fire service lighter tools while at the same time developing greater power. Portable, light-weight gasoline driven generators developing up to 5,000 watts and generating either AC or DC current supply the power. Many of these tools are designed for high-cycle current. The meaning of high-cycle current is that the conventional 60 cycle current has been increased to as much as 800 cycles AC. The generators used by the Salt Lake City Fire Department at present deliver 2,500 watts and either 110 volts direct current (DC) or 220 volts, 180 cycle 3-phase alternating current (AC). This generator is large enough to operate any of the tools described.
The chain saw used by this Department weighs 17 pounds, cuts to the depth of 14 inches and will make these cuts through solid logs or timber of this diameter in 30 to 60 seconds. Other chain saws are available in various sizes up to a portable saw weighing 45 pounds and cutting to a depth of 36 inches. It is found that these saws are taking the operators through flooring, roofing, timbers and so on much faster than the circular saws: that they make cuts in hard wood with ease that normally binded on the circular saws, and they cut any depth up to 14 inches as compared with the limit of 2 inches possible with circular saws.
There is no doubt that these saws are going to expedite much of the fireman’s work and at the same time require less manpower, thus saving men for other duties at fires. Their value in rescue operations in case of building collapse alone would prove their worth. Persons could be reached in a few minutes that normally would require hours of arduous work with axes or hand saw methods.
Electric jack hammers operated from these generators are capable of cutting through heavy concrete and can prove a much faster method of breaching brick walls, concrete floors, releasing barred windows and so forth. The electric drills operated from the generators give firemen a fast means of putting holes through floors to relieve them of water, and to provide openings for cellar pipes and distributors into a fire area.
The metal cutting tools can be used to penetrate corrugated iron, to cut into metal doors and to cut hinges and hasps from doors and many other applications.
Hydraulic Power Tools
Mention is made of the hydraulic power tools because of their possibilities, although they are not electrically driven. This unit consists of a hydraulic pump which transmits oil under pressure through flexible hose to the ram plunger. Attachments to be used for various types of jobs are designed to fit on the ram plunger, such as jacks, presses, chain lifts, toe lifts, spreaders, benders, etc. The plunger ram works in all directions. Due to its tremendous power to lift, spread, bend or pull and press, this unit is valuable as an addition to to forcible entry tools and equipment.
Entrance through locked doors can be made quickly with this tool, with little or no damage to door frame, by spreading the framework enough to free the lock.
The hazards which are usually present after large fires, such as hanging beams, joists, pipes, unsafe walls and heavy machinery can be removed safely with the aid of this hydraulic unit. It can be operated by remote control which allows the operator to stand at a safe distance and observe the work being done.
It should be remembered that while electrical tools are in operation, full lighting of the fire grounds is taking place. The 2,500 watt generators of the Salk Lake City Fire Department will operate two 500-watt flood lights at the same time the chain saw is being used. The larger generators of course will do much better than this.
Salt Lake firemen have a variety of uses of the lighting outfit that might be of interest. Means of clamping flood lights to the tips of their aerial ladders have been provided and an entire roof area can thus be lighted when men are working on the roof. . . . This has proved particularly useful when covering a roof after a fire. It also makes for much better lighting at any time as the area is then lighted without the light shining into the eyes of the men at work.
Three Smoke Ejectors Carried
Salt Lake City also carries three smoke ejectors of 3,000 cubic feet per minute capacity which operate off the power generators. These are particularly useful in removing smoke after a fire has been knocked down, thus holding the smoke damage to the minimum.
As the days pass, new uses for these power operated tools will doubtlessly develop. Experience in their use continually discloses new applications for such equipment.
Asst. Chief in charge of drills and training, Salt Lake City, Utah.