Complex Car Construction (CCC) is not a recent thorn in the responder's side. We have been confronted with exotic metal challenges for quite some time. However, as more and more cars are being built with this type construction it's now a major topic.
Volvo was the first to use exotic metals such as boron steel for side impact protection in doors. The anti-intrusion bar made out of boron was defeating older cutters. Unlike mild steel these new alloys do cut like shears through sheet metal. As the cutting edge focuses it force the pressure builds to a point that the metal fatigues and fails. There can be a sudden release of kinetic that can propel an unrestrained member as a projectile.
In a program in Toronto, I watched as a section of Volvo boron steel roof member was held on the ground and a sales rep used heavy hydraulic cutter on the boron member. The tool danced and twisted until the tip points were able to make their mark on a 90 degree bend. The tips breach through and then there was a loud snapping noise and the unrestrained end became a projectile hitting one of my instructors in the leg approximately 25 feet away. The moral of the story I feel is don’t use the heavy hydraulic/electric cutters on these structural members unless it is last resort.
The material is harder than your tool, the tool wants a path of travel that give least resistance. This often leads to side loading, a common cause of warping and/or fracturing the cutting blades. It’s the cutting edge that is designed to take the force, not the face sides of the blades.
I think we need to get back to basics, if the tool cannot outperform the material to be cut we need to change tactics. Step outside the box. Ask: Do we need to do a particular task because we have done it this way since the introduction of heavy hydraulics?
This is old school technology, the modern vehicle with exotic metal alloys and passive safety features have change the way progressive extrication specialists perform extrication.
The mission of the rescue should be to extricate victims/patients in the safest most efficient means possible. Letting the car get the best of the operator with the risk of putting a tool needed on site out of service is counterproductive to the mission.
Lets talk it up:
How do you think we can change tactics to work around issues like boron steel alloys?