WMFD shows off new rescue equipment
Photo by John Rech
‘ This piece of equipment gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility to rescue individuals trapped in an accident’
By John Rech
The West Memphis Fire Department provided a show and tell demonstration for city council. Ward representatives saw a battery- powered rescue jack.
The new piece completed the department’s batterypowered set of extraction equipment. The lighterweight gear afforded rescuers to tote equipment further and get to work faster.
The battery powered ram was assessed with plenty of weight lifting capacity and eliminated the need to set up and tie into a compressor.
Fire Department Commission Chairman City Councilman Tracy Catt introduced Assistant Chief Jeff Jones for the demonstration.
“This piece of equipment gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility to rescue individuals trapped in an accident,” said Catt.
“This is a push-pull ram and it’s used if someone is trapped under the dashboard of a vehicle,” said Jones. “It moves up to 40,000 pounds. It can push metal up to 50 inches, which is huge.
To get the lift distance to the four feet range two more extension tips are placed. The Chief said the ram was versatile.
“We are talking about pushing a lot of metal a long way so we can help people pinned in a bad situation with extraction,” said Jones. “It not only used in vehicles but you can use it in collapsed structures, like the one in Russelville last year. Recently we saw bridge collapse in Italy; it’s this type of equipment that pushes that up to free people.”
Joined with the battering ram acquired earlier this summer, the new batterypowered trio of tools also served to lift the Fire Department into a unique position. Battery-power heavy duty rescue equipment represents relatively new engineering innovations but the department waited and watched performance results for a year before buying.
“We are the only ones in this area with this equipment right now,” said Jones. “We are very fortunate to have these. “This is state of the art, the latest thing on the market.”
The batteries are readily available at hardware stores in the city, removing the wait time ordering from a specialty tool supplier.
“When I researched the equipment, one of the neatest things I found was the battery on it,” said Jones.
“The battery is the same for a saws-all you can buy at any hardware store. The same battery operates this extraction equipment. It is nothing special. Most equipment like this costs a little more and then you have to pay more for their unique batteries.”
The name brand was familiar to the WMFD.
“We’ve used this name brand for 30 years in the city,” said Jones. “It’s reliable. It has proven itself.
No other brand holds a candle to it. Be able to swap batteries makes it a lot more user friendly.”
Some of the same brand equipment had continued providing front-line service in the city since 1988 according to Jones.
Jones justified the need for the equipment and looked a the potential for traffic accidents along the Interstate Interchange running through the city. Jones expressed thanks to the city council for consistently budgeting the fire department to maintain its elite ISO One ranking.
“We are one of the busiest corridors in the state with Interests 40 and 55, plus US 70 and 64 come though the area,” said Jones. “ We see al lot of traffic incidents. We are very fortunate to have this equipment to serve West Memphis.”
The equipment is torn down and inspected on site annually by the manufacturer. Firefighters regularly train with the equipment.
“We do apparatus and equipment’s every Wednesday,” said Jones. “These guys go through every piece of equipment on our truck, from top to bottom.
If you have great people and great tools, they’ll get the job done. About every other day we are using it in the field or training with it.”