The Hope Fire Department now has a double-fisted approach to emergency rescue and extrication.
Hope Fire Chief Dale Glanton said Wednesday that the purchase of a second Jaws of Life unit for the department gives the HFD more flexibility as a rescue and extrication unit for Hope and rural fire departments who call for aid.
Glanton said the department bought its original unit in 1991, and that it is still in service. The original unit cost about $18,000; the new unit about $13,000, and it has improvements not found in the 1991 model, he said.
“That is, basically, what we have purchased; some of it was refurbished and some of it was new,” he said. “We got a bigger cutter, and the spreader we bought has interchangeable teeth on it, and the chains are all quick connect, where the other one just had the two spreader teeth on it and you couldn't change anything on it.”
Glanton said having both units gives the HFD the ability to address changes in automobile construction over time to provide for quicker extrication of accident victims at the scene.
“With this new steel that cars are made out of now, this is strongest cutter that Amkus makes, and a lot of the older equipment won't cut the material that the new cars are made of,” he said.
Glanton said the equipment retains the two-man operating approach in its original concept because of the intense pressures which are generated to facilitate cutting and spreading wrecked vehicles and other metal containers.
“You need somebody running the power unit and somebody working the equipment,” he said. “You have valves there where, if you are going to switch from one tool to another, you have to turn that valve off and the other one on. I can't remember the pounds per square inch on the original unit, but the one we have now is 200,000 psi, which is the stoutest. Back then, it wasn't even 100,000; so, there is quite a bit of difference today.”
The similarity in the equipment gives firefighters a familiarity of use in training that allows field use of the new unit more quickly, Glanton said.
“When we got the first set, the only other set in Hempstead County at the time was a set that Cross Roads had, that actually belonged to the ambulance service, and they donated it to them,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we wanted this other set, because of the interstate and the wrecks we have out there; there is a lot more traffic now.”
Glanton said that interchangeability of parts also makes it possible to ensure one unit is available.
“And, if other departments in the county have the same brand, and we're out on a big scene together, we can hook up and work together, if we need to,” he said. “Cross Roads has the same unit.”
Page 2 of 2 - Hope and Patmos are the only communities in the southwest quadrant of the county with extrication equipment; and, Hempstead County has some 2,000 miles of rural roads, among the largest county road systems in the state.
“Spring Hill, Southeast, and Perrytown, there are still departments in the south part of the county that do not have rescue equipment,” Glanton said. “We wanted to have two sets so that we could keep one in the city limits and have one that could be used in the rural parts of the county at the same time.”
Glanton said the equipment is extremely durable, and can be used for years with proper maintenance.
“Any of this stuff, unless it got seriously damaged, you can have kits put in and overhaul it,” he said. “It should last for years and years if you take care of the equipment.”