I came across this article and thought it made some really good points on how air chisels are being passed over and not utilized as an option as often as they can or even should be, and it got me wondering why so many tools get passed over or not used/trained with as much when they still have a use and can do the job well when used properly?

Obviously, hydraulic tools have become the pick of the litter for almost every task during extrication, and rightfully so. My FD has some really good sets of hydraulic tools that work great and we have become very good with them. We also have an air chisel set and a porta-power set but I'll be honest, I have probably only seen those pulled out and trained with maybe twice since I have been here. (We do need to train more with them and will be putting them into our future extrication classes)

How many of you out there have tools such as air chisels and porta-power kits? Do you use/train with them or do they get set aside for the chance to play with the 'Big Toys' and why do you think things like this happen in the fire service?


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Air chisels are an excellent option for "skinning" the composite bodywork off of space frame vehicles.  The openings created by the air chisels give you a "shortcut" that exposes either the hinges (which can be unbolted with impact wrenches) or the underlying space frame (for attack with hydraulic spreaders or cutters).


Removing or just creating a kerf cut with the air chisel can also weaken composite bodywork enough that it will reduce or eliminate the inherent springback that the outer skin causes when attacking space frame vehicle doors with the hydraulic spreader.

We have one on every engine and we use them often if a box truck fliped on its side you use it cuz it will cut through like butter. They make sure we re train with all our tools its better.

ours is on our rescue, only seen it used once...training

  All the toys on our Rescues get used. They get checked and trained with.  Air chisels,air bags, hydraulic tools, etc. 

  If your Dept. isn't using all the tools in your big tool box. Then your just playing fireman.


  I was on a MVA a few yrs ago. Head on collision between to pick ups. both S10. Both vehicles only had a driver. Both intrapped.  One vehicle we used the Amkus on. The other one the crew used. Air chisels and hand tools, chaines and comalongs etc.  Both patients were removed at the same time.

  Just food for thought.

  God Bless

when i ran with a rescue department  i loved the air chisel, they work well on larger vehicles or give you another option on those bad calls. Normally we would use the chisel every training, and at least once a year we would have a call that required all the tools from the recue. 

A few years ago had a bronco vs cargo van head on, 1 person entrapped in each vehicle and 1 former occupant trapped under the bronco. Rescue crew used hydraulic tools on bronco patients while engine crew used air tools to gain access to cargo van occupant.

Like everything else in the fire service train, train some more and the when it comes to tools or tactics that you dont use as often train frequently

In the fire/rescue service, we have become so dependent on powered hydraulic tools that we have forgotten what we did before the advent of these tools. Before Hurst developed the "Jaws of Life", hand tools, air tools and porta-powers were the only things we had to perform extrication. These should never be forgotten and should be used as an adjunct to powered hydraulic systems. And what happens if the hydraulic tools experience a mechanical failure? It then becomes necessary to utilize the "old school" methods to perform extrication. Just a thought.

Agreed. We haven't used them or trained with them in years even though there is a set on the rescue. I don't think the chief likes the chisels. I'll add that to the TO DO list.

This brings up some good points and thoughts.  Being a small department we dont use the hydraulic tools that often and we should.  We cover a stretch of State Route 20 which passes right in front of our station and we have had numerous severe accidents, 2 fatals in the past 4 years.

We just had a set of air chisels and air bags donated to us and are in the process of getting them in service.  The control box for the bags had a busted gauge and we need to replace that to get them in service, then we will have 2 air bags to use plus a full set of chisels with gun.

From what I can remember in my AVET training, cant you use the chisels on the nader pins as well?  They can cut through them and its quicker then deploying the spreaders.  But I cant remember if that is possible with the strength of the nader pins/bolts.

I know you can remove the skin fromt he door and expose the latch mechanism to operate manualy and open doors.  You can remove the skin from the roof when the car is on its side to extricate PT's that way.  There are a lot of uses and with training and creativity you can use them for a lot on the rescue scenes.

I use them regularly.... In my shop.

Haven't carried them on the apparatus in years. 

They are our choice if a vehicle is on it's side and we cannot extricate the patients through the rear of the vehicle and we are going to flap the roof. We use a Paratech air gun as our main air chisel, and it works fabulous. Our dept is going through BVR right now, the class has had a lot of time using it.

I haven't used them at an incident yet but we train with them once in a while.  I was amazed how fast you can skin a roof with the chisel.  Also, I have used them to make purchase points for the spreader and stabilization struts, pretty fast especially if you don't have a halligan in your hands.  We have a monster chisel we call the Ma Duce for heavy work like a cattle pot or rail car.

I guess the only thing I don't like about them is how loud they are.  I don't know from experience but I would bet they would be disturbing to an entrapped victim.   

We have had them on our engine because we had a air connection on the pump panel before we had a heavy squad assigned to our sub station and a ladder truck assigned to our main station.


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