Critical rescue operations rely on quality tools for extractions. Standard tools can’t provide the fast cutting power needed in rescue operations. However, adding hydraulics boosts the amount of force these tools can exert, making cutting through steel faster and easier. Innovations in the field have created extra powerful and lighter-weight hydraulic extrication tools that outperform their predecessors from years past.
What Are Hydraulic Rescue Tools?
Hydraulic rescue tools make cutting and bending metal possible. In today’s modern cars, thick pillars and heavy metal improve vehicle safety. However, these can also make rescue efforts difficult. Hydraulic tools use pressurized fluid to increase the available power to cut through or move the dense metal of vehicles. In doing so, they can open a space large enough to free individuals trapped inside.
Hydraulic power increases the force behind the working ends of tools. With more power, a rescuer can do more to get metal out of the way. Unlike other power tools that can cut through metal, hydraulic rescue devices have designs that prevent sparking or pushing metal further into the vehicle. Therefore, these mechanisms are safer, faster and easier to use.
With modern hydraulic rescue tools, firefighters can safely extricate individuals trapped in vehicles. Modern, handheld options can even work underwater to get people out of submerged cars.
The key to hydraulic rescue tools is their operation, which leverages extra power from fluid pressure to generate the force needed to slice through metal.
How Do Hydraulic Rescue Tools Work?
Hydraulic tools rely on the force-multiplying power of pressurized fluid. This operation is similar to how car brakes work. Instead of needing to use all the force required to stop the wheels by only pushing on the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid allows you to gently tap the brakes to stop the car.
With hydraulic rescue tools, hydraulic fluid lets the operator press the device's control buttons to create the immense pressure required to move or cut through metal. This extra power makes extricating people from vehicles in emergencies faster and easier. Firefighters today have options for hydraulic tools that can either use hoses to deliver the fluid or battery operation and hose-less functioning.
For hydraulically powered tools, the hydraulic fluid gets pumped through a high-pressure hose to the equipment. This additional pressure provides the extra power needed to allow these tools to cut through or bend metal. After use, the pressure drops, and the now low-pressure hydraulic fluid returns to the pump via low-pressure lines. In most types of hydraulic equipment, there are two hoses — one for each pressure line. This twin line design requires two connections for each hose.
However, Holmatro upgraded to an innovative design using CORE Technology that puts the high-pressure hose inside the low-pressure return, providing more protection for both and greater strength for the high-pressure hose. With one hose containing both high- and low-pressure lines, there is only one connection. Plus, the low-pressure line surrounding the high-pressure hose at the core protects the internal hose from rupture, keeping rescuers safer from the damaging effects of a broken high-pressure hydraulic line.
A more traditional type of hydraulic tool requires a separate pump to pressurize the hydraulic fluid. These pumps are separate from the tool, requiring longer lines for the hydraulic hoses to reach from the pump to the rescue site. The pumps often use generators or another form of power to keep operating. Because these types of tools have been around for years, they remain common features in many fire departments.
More modern hydraulic tools use batteries to self-contain the entire operation. The pump and pump power are all on the tool. The batteries connect to a charger on the truck to recharge when needed. While some conversion kits can convert standard hydraulic rescue equipment into battery-operated models, the added parts that attach to the tool greatly increase its weight.
Not all battery-operated hydraulic tools are heavy, though. With a completely redesigned model from Holmatro in the Pentheon line, the weight is drastically lower while still providing the convenience of battery-operated hydraulics. These tools help professionals complete rescues in places where hydraulic pumps can’t go. For instance, if a vehicle goes off a road into the woods, a rescuer can take a battery-operated tool from the truck and go to the vehicle.
This option for hose-less, cordless operation can save many lives with its easier and more efficient function.
History of Hydraulic Rescue Tools
Hydraulic rescue tools are a relatively recent innovation in emergency devices. In 1961, George Hurst created the first of these with the Hurst Power Rescue Tool. Today, it goes by the proprietary name of the Jaws of Life.
The original tool weighed 350 pounds and was a spreader designed to extricate racecar drivers from their vehicles. When marketed to fire departments, it shrank down to a more portable 65 pounds. Firefighters immediately saw the benefit of using the tool, which was faster and safer than pry bars and power saws.
Over the years, the original hydraulic rescue spreading tool has expanded to a variety that includes rams, multi-tools and cutters. Battery-powered options eliminate the hoses that tether rescue workers to a pump. Plus, these choices are smaller and lighter, making them easier to get into tight spaces.
This great number of innovations has been possible due to other companies entering the rescue tools market. With competition, each manufacturer has a greater need to design more technologically advanced tools that overcome some of the problems firefighters face during equipment use.
Some innovations that companies have brought to hydraulic rescue tools include CORE Technology from Holmatro and Pentheon battery-powered hydraulic tools from the same provider. CORE Technology makes using hydraulic hoses safer, faster and easier for firefighters. Pentheon tools let rescuers carry tools wherever they need them with battery-operated technology that doesn’t require hydraulic hoses.
While tool innovations help make tools easier for firefighters to use, technology must continue evolving to keep up with changes in automotive technology. Modern cars have strong supports. These require extra power to cut through or spread during rescues. Holmatro meets the needs of rescues from existing automobile makes while providing additional power for future use.
The wider space between the U-shaped cutters fits better around large supports. Plus, the cutters have a design that pulls the metal toward the strongest point of the cutters — the internal axis of the blades. These future-focused rescue tools are on the front lines of hydraulic equipment. They represent the innovations companies are making to help firefighters rescue individuals today and in the future.
Providing equipment at the cutting edge of hydraulic rescue devices is how companies like Bunker Gear Specialists and the Holmatro gear they sell help save lives.
What Types of Hydraulic Rescue Tools Are There?
Over time, the options available for rescue tools have increased. Each tool type has a specific use for moving or cutting metal. Since a single rescue might require several methods of moving metal, a truck will frequently have all four main types of hydraulic tools.
Just as the tools have specific uses, the power behind them can also vary. Options include traditional hydraulic tools that use hoses to bring pressurized fluid from the pump to the tool and hose-less, battery-powered hydraulic devices.
What Is a Hydraulic Cutter?
Hydraulic cutters use powerful hydraulic pressure to improve the force of the shears' cutting edges. These cutters are like super-powered scissors. Because they must exert high forces, their cutting edges must be durable and long-lasting. Steel-cutting surfaces can stand up to the required pressure of slicing through steel bars and metal on vehicles.
Innovations in hydraulic cutters include those found in the Pentheon line that allow the rescuer to hold the tool at waist level while still cutting high or low on a vehicle. The cutter is at a 30-degree inclination to allow for this type of handling. Plus, the inclined angle gives more space between the vehicle and cutter, increasing the area for tool movement and keeping the individual inside safer.
What Is a Hydraulic Spreader?
Spreaders resemble cutters but operate in the opposite direction. While cutters will slice into the material by pushing the tips together, spreaders operate by inserting the tips into a space and opening them up. As the tips separate, they pull the metal on either side apart. Common uses for hydraulic spreaders include removing doors.
Hydraulic spreaders also have many innovative options available. For instance, Pentheon spreaders have teeth on the tips' exterior, with higher ones in the middle. These pointed teeth have varying orientations to more effectively bite into the metal. This design gives them a firmer grip as they push pieces of metal apart. Plus, the insertion dimensions are minimized with an interlocking internal profile, which allows these spreaders to fit into smaller spaces and open them.
What Is a Hydraulic Ram?
While spreaders can open spaces with the width of their tips, a hydraulic ram enables rescuers to get even more space. These can push metal or use an additional fitting to provide cross bracing or separating. Rams allow for greater movement of vehicle components. For instance, they work well for lifting collapsed dashboards or car roofs.
For improved force and operation, Pentheon rams are a cordless option. These tools have teeth at the end of the ram for better gripping of metal. A laser guide on the end ensures proper tool positioning the first time around, which can reduce problems caused by repositioning the ram. With options for Smart Ram extension bars or a cross ram support set, this tool has a greater number of uses and can expand the distance the ram moves metal.
What Are Hydraulic Multi-Tools?
Hydraulic multi-tools or combi-tools allow for both cutting and spreading in one powerful device. By device manufacturers merging these tools into one, firefighters can carry fewer devices to the rescue site for a given operation. Plus, changing tools is simple and fast. In time-sensitive situations, faster responses could mean more lives saved.
As Holmatro did with other types of hydraulic tools, it improved on combi-tools, too. Pentheon combi-tools have spreader tips that the rescuer can easily remove with their hands. By taking off these tips, the tool turns into a powerful cutter that does not crush the metal as it slices through. Once finished cutting, the rescuer can replace the tips with their hands.
The tool's interior has gripping teeth that keep the blades from pushing the metal out as they cut. Lastly, the device's iBolt technology eliminates the need to retighten bolts after use and permits the tool to fit into tighter spaces by giving it a narrower profile.
Holmatro's COaxial Rescue Equipment (CORE) Technology
Holmatro uses COaxial Rescue Equipment (CORE) Technology for creating safer, easier to use, faster and more efficient equipment. CORE Technology describes the propriety method wherein hydraulic oil goes to the tool under high pressure and returns to the pump under low pressure.
Older tools used two lines. One of these was the high-pressure line for hydraulic fluid going into the tool. The second line returned the oil back to the pump. However, these two lines could cause problems involving kinks, pinholes and tangling.
CORE Technology upgrades the hydraulic design by using a single reinforced hose with a nested line inside. The pressurized hydraulic fluid flows from the pump through the internal hose to the tool. The returning fluid goes in the space between the outer and inner hoses. This single hose saves space on the tool and in the truck by hiding the hose end inside the coupler. Therefore, there are no dangling parts that may swing from the tool when professionals carry the equipment from the truck to the site.
With CORE Technology, hydraulic rescue tools have become more efficient and safer to use. These attributes make using these powerful tools simpler for rescue crews who need to make the most of every second when on site.
The Efficiency of CORE Technology
Using CORE Technology for hydraulic rescue tools helps enhance rescuers' abilities and streamline the time it takes them to rescue individuals. This type of hydraulic technology makes the devices quick and simple to set up. Compared to traditional twin hoses, CORE hoses weigh 40% less. Therefore, it becomes easier to move the tools and hoses when needed.
The coupling system improves the efficiency of tools with CORE Technology. You can simply switch tools by connecting the hose. The couplers on the tools and pumps allow for 360-degree rotation, which reduces twisting and tangling of the hose. Plus, these connectors permit single-handed connecting or disconnecting with or without the pump running, saving time and effort during and after use.
Extra Safety of CORE Technology
Hydraulic tools carry inherent risks due to the pressurized hoses. Older twin hose systems would experience damage from the excess internal pressure, kinks in the hose or pinhole damage, causing pressure loss. With CORE Technology, the high-pressure inner hose is protected by the lower pressure outer hose. This additional layer of protection also helps keep the rescuer safe from accidental release of pressurized fluid due to hose breaks.
The hose structure does not use steel. Instead, the hoses consist of para-aramid fiber reinforcement. This material prevents holes, kinks and leaks.
Additionally, the coupling system uses a simple, one-step auto-lock system. This connection allows for coupling in a single push that locks the coupler in place. Once connected, accidental uncoupling is impossible. The system requires a two-step process to disconnect the coupler.
Pentheon Extrication Tools From Holmatro
While CORE Technology improves the operation of hydraulic tools, Holmatro also produces another line of rescue equipment that does not require pumps or hoses. Holmatro battery-powered extrication tools have become more useful than ever. With each successive line in the company’s selection of hydraulic rescue tools, it has built on prior innovations to produce faster, safer and more streamlined equipment.
Today, the company’s cordless, hose-less battery-powered Pentheon line is the pinnacle of advancement in rescue equipment. With improved tool performance, rescue crews can more easily get people out of trapped vehicles.
Holmatro’s newest line, Pentheon, showcases the latest innovations in rescue technology. This line completely redesigns rescue tools for greater use in various situations. Changes in the weight, size, speed control and technology reduce the time required to use the tools, which can save lives.
Arguably, the most important update that Holmatro brought to the Pentheon line was a reduction in the tools’ weights. The tools in this line are 9 pounds lighter. This weight reduction makes these machines easier to move and use. The lighter weight also prevents fatigue during their use, ensuring rescue team members can continue to use the devices with precision.
The lighter weight also comes with a more compact size. The smaller tools are better suited for tighter spaces. More compact sizes optimize these tools for storage on the truck and fast use in time-sensitive situations.
Plus, these tools do not have hoses or wires hanging off them. Without extra wires or hoses, they have a lower chance of getting tangled or hung up during operation or movement.
Stepless Speed Control
Unlike hose or battery tools, the Pentheon line uses step-less speed control. As the load increases, the speed seamlessly drops. By not using stepped speeds, Holmatro tools offer faster operation at all loads than battery- or hose-powered rescue tools.
Additionally, when using the tools, on-handle speed controls allow the user to easily switch between high and low speeds. The ease of speed control makes operation more efficient and enables faster rescues.
Accommodation for Any Temperature
Rescue situations don’t wait for sunny days with comfortable temperatures. The extrication equipment you use should adapt to any condition. Inclement weather conditions and high or low temperatures don’t have to be a barrier to using these tools. They perform equally well in hot and cold settings. Plus, they can operate in rain or shine.
Compact rechargeable battery packs on the Pentheon tools decrease the weight and bulk of the equipment without sacrificing power. For recharging, leave the batteries in the tools and plug in the tool. This device design makes responding to rescues faster. You simply unplug the tool from the truck, and it will be ready to go without you needing to juggle battery packs.
Plus, as soon as the tools no longer have a load, the motors stop automatically. This auto-stop feature improves safety when using the tools and extends the battery life. Better power management means the Pentheon line lets you focus more on rescue efforts than on keeping up with equipment power.
Contact Bunker Gear Specialists to Purchase Holmatro Hydraulic Rescue Equipment
If you want Holmatro hydraulic rescue tools, including anything from the innovative Pentheon series, partner with us at Bunker Gear Specialists. We are the exclusive dealer for this brand in Louisiana. Additionally, our rescue equipment services include repairs, maintenance and free training. These services ensure your equipment and team are both prepared to use your tools at any time. Make us your rescue partner today by finding out more about our extrication tool offerings from Holmatro and requesting a free quote.