Windshield removal and rope rescue

tools of the trade

CarolinaFireJournal - DAVID PEASE
DAVID PEASE tools of the trade
01/11/2010 -

I would like to touch on a couple of good products that we used in Guatemala with our training there. One tool has been around for quite a while actually, and is one that does an excellent job at what it is designed to do. Produced by Wehr, the “GlasMaster” is one of the best tools for cutting out a windshield that has come along in quite some time. When windshields used to be set in rubber gaskets, they could be removed by popping off the trim mold, and placing a bailing hook behind the edge of the glass to pop out the window.


Well, as with technology, things changed in the way car manufacturers set the windshields in cars. Soon the windshields were set in with a mastic sealer that held the glass in nice and snug. Bailing hooks would no longer do the trick. For awhile, the only way to remove the windshield was by chopping it out with a fire axe. Next we used reciprocating saws, which work pretty well on windshields, and still do. But reciprocating saws do require power, the Glasmaster does not.

Made out of a steel frame, the tool fits comfortably in the rescuer’s hand. It has a front guard to protect your hand while cutting. The forward grip is padded and holds a window punch for taking out the side and rear windows. The rear handle is slotted so your fingers fall in the groove and give you a good solid grip for ultimate control. The other end of the handle gives you a valve stem puller and is used to punch the hole to start your cut. The blade used for cutting the windshield has been redesigned to reduce the fragmentation of the glass and can be changed out when needed.

This is an excellent hand tool for safely removing front windshields. On vehicles with the new enhanced protective glass, the side and rear windows can be removed as well.

Another tool sold by Wehr Engineering is the PRT I, II, and III pocket rescue tools. These knives are heavy constructed and make a good personal rescue knife. They all come with a one-half inch section of serrated edge at the base of the standard blade. The PRT tools have a replaceable seatbelt cutter and a mounted point for taking out the side and rear windows. The blade release is large so it can be utilized while wearing gloves. The PRT I has a pointed blade tip, the PRT II has an angle pointed blade tip, and the PRT III has a rounded tip. Another good personal rescue tool is the rescue tool RT I. This tool has a replaceable slide out blade that locks forward. The blade features a hooked tip with an inner blade for cutting cloth or other light materials, a section of serrated edge and a window punch. The lock out control keeps the blade from accidentally coming out. The RT I also has a fold out Marlin Spike. All of Wehr’s tools are heavy constructed for long lasting durability. You can get more information by going to

There are numerous rope manufacturers around and all make a good product. But the one that seems to stand out above the rest is Sterling Ropes. We used one-half inch static kernmantle ropes in our training in Guatemala and we use the same Sterling one-half inch kernmantle ropes with our rescue team. These ropes have more flexibility and strength than any of the ropes we have used. Sterling makes a multitude of ropes to choose from, ranging from accessory cords to five-eighth inch lifelines. Their ropes use a technology they call “better braid technology” and a process they call “Thermal-Dynamic Balancing” to produce a supple, easy to handle rope.

The “Mantle” or sheath of the rope is braided using a two over two configuration for ropes at nine mm and larger. Their rope manufacturing process gives the rescuer a rope that is easy to handle, easy to tie knots in, and flows smoothly through your hardware. Since in most rescue applications we want little stretch in our ropes, Sterling has two static rescue lines.

First, is the Super Static, which does offer some minimal stretch where a load could shift during application. Next, is the HTP static, which being made primarily of polyester, has very little stretch. These ropes are good for highlines where your deflection needs to be less. Sterling makes an assortment of other ropes and accessories such as dynamic lines for climbing, heat resistant lines for firefighters, and ropes for industrial use.

If you are in the market for rescue ropes, give Sterling a look. I don’t think you will be disappointed. You can find them online at

Next issue we’ ll look at more equipment that can make your rescues safer and easier.

Contact David Pease at [email protected] and visit the Reds Website at
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