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Extrication "Quick Tip" #44 (CUTTER WRIST TWIST)

When it comes to extrication tools, cutter torque is one of the most “common” and avoidable causes of catastrophic tool failures. In this week’s “Quick Tip”, we are covering an option to help in recognizing/preventing cutter torque in areas that the cutter blades are hard to visualize. There are a many strong points on a vehicle that can produce cutter torque depending on tool placement. However, there are two common places that I see cutter torque resulting in blade fracture.  SEATBACKS & STEERING COLUMNS-Both have similarities that I personally believe produces the opportunity for tool damage, if torqueing is not quickly recognized.

  1. Both have incredibly strong metals

  2. Both areas if not “exposed” will hide the cutter blades in fabric or plastic which does not allow the firefighter to visualize torqueing of the blades.

This week we are going to focus more on the seatbacks. One option to allow the visualization of the blades is to expose the area of seatback to be cut. I would like to say you will always be able to expose a cutting area enough to see the blades, but you won’t. If exposing is not an option, this week’s quick tip covers a method that we use in various areas to gauge tool movement/torque. As shown in the picture, we are cutting a seatback. An inner cut has been made to allow the blade to “sink” into the area to be cut. Once the cut is started we go to one hand on the tool as shown. The handle is held tight so any torqueing of the tool/blades will be felt and visualized in the movement of wrist. As always this is just an option and has worked very well for us. Don’t forget to check out or other 43 Extrication “Quick Tips” here

ISAAC FRAZIER is a Special Operations Lieutenant with St. Johns County Florida’s Heavy Rescue “Squad 4”. First due to the deadliest stretch of roadway in the nation, Frazier teaches from personal street experience providing tried and true tactics. Frazier is the owner of Tactical Advantage Training and creator of the course Tactical Extrication. Frazier travels nationally sharing his passion teaching fire and extrication courses. Frazier is a FDIC lecturer, FDIC Lead HOT Instructor, Fire Engineering Contributor, Fire Officer II, FL Paramedic, Special Operations Officer, Florida State Instructor, FLUSAR Tech, Diver, and FL Hazmat Tech.

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