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Fire Chief: New extrication equipment vital for saving lives

January 6, 2019

With Columbus City Council approval Monday, the Columbus Fire Department will be able to purchase new crash extrication equipment that will pay dividends in life-threatening situations.

The Hurst eDraulic cordless crash extrication tools set to be purchased through Danko Emergency Equipment are slated to cost the department just under $26,000, according to Fire Chief Dan Miller. The dollar amount was allocated through the department’s 2019 capital budget for this purpose, he said.

The purchase includes a complete set of battery-powered extrication tools which operate at double the hydraulic operating pressure of the three sets of Jaws of Life the department is currently using, staff report information shows. The new set will include spreaders, cutters, ramming equipment, charger and an adapter plug for tethered operation.

Several brands of tools were reviewed by CFD staff in hands-on demonstrations and the favorite brand was Hurst, Miller said through a written statement to city staff.

The major need for updated extrication equipment, the chief said, is because new models of vehicles have upgraded steel technology that the old Jaws of Life can’t adequately cut through.

“The Columbus Fire Department has outdated equipment that will not cut through or push away the high-strength elements that make up the new (vehicle),” he told The Telegram on Friday. “In the early 2000s, they started making cars in America with high-strength, low-alloy metals, and older low-pressure Jaws of Life cutters will just not cut through that material.”

Another benefit of the expected new equipment is its mobility in comparison with the old.

“Since they are cordless, they can be used independently of a hydraulic power unit (attached to a responding vehicle) which allows us to get away from the fire apparatus and maybe get into a field, for example.”

Miller said that currently, the existing extrication tools are put to use four to five times annually to assist with wrecks and removing people trapped in vehicles. The approximately 60-pound new device will generate approximately 200,000 pounds of cutting pressure in comparison with the 20,000 pounds currently generated through existing equipment, he added.

Another plus? The cost has remained fairly static. And cost aside, the need is simply there and the time is right.

“Twenty to 30 years ago it cost right around the same price,” Miller said. “So you are getting far more capable tools for about the same price. And it’s (new equipment) really the only choice to get someone out of a modern vehicle – you have to have that equipment.”

Pending council approval, Miller said the new extrication equipment should arrive at the station within six weeks of being ordered.

In other council news:

*The council will hear an application of BT’s Bar Inc. for special designated liquor license in the 500 block of 17th Avenue, for a benefit running from 4-11 p.m. Feb. 9. The bar is also making an application for a special designated liquor license for an event running from 4-8 p.m. March 8.

*The governing body will discuss and potentially authorize the city to advertise city land for sale located north of abandoned 13th Street between 17th and 18th avenues; south of abandoned 13th Street from 18th Avenue to abandoned 20th Avenue; and north of 12th Street from 14th to 15th avenues.

*The council will hear a resolution that would award a contract to Bierman Contracting Inc. in the amount of $898,500 for the E911 Communication Center Project 2018.

*At 7:30 p.m., the Community Development Agency will meet to discuss tax-increment financing in regard to two local projects. One resolution is in relation to the Frontier Redevelopment Project with Granville Custom Homes, and the other is in regard to a redevelopment agreement with Sequoia Properties LLC, for the downtown redevelopment area project.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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