Sometimes, I see things that are improved upon and then I come across things that really don’t change much. Perhaps they are trying to survive off the vitality that once was there. As we continue to move forward we will continue to see tools and equipment evolve with the time.
I must say that technology can be a wonderful thing. I ran across an electric rescue tool many years ago, some will recognize it as the “Powerhawk Tool.” Newer fire and rescue folks may not have a clue as to where this tool came from or got its start.
When I came across the tool some years ago, it was an interesting concept. I think this tool was way ahead of its time. The rescue world was dominated by the world of hydraulics. Most everyone looked at anything else as substandard. The Powerhawk tool was going to have a tough go at it. When I had a chance to use the tool it was actually pretty impressive for its size and demeanor. It would cut what any hydraulic combination tool would cut. The tool was just as light and ran off a 12-volt battery pack. It had interchangeable heads, one that would spread, one that would cut and one that was a combination tip. They were easy to change out and would get the job done. Curtiss Wright who designed parts for the F-16 fighter jets made the tool. This tool used that same technology. The tool could be connected to your 12-volt truck system and would run as long as any hydraulic tool would. The tool could also be used underwater. This is not something that the other tools could boast. The fact is, it was the original electric rescue tool. I used one to rescue a woman during hurricane Ivan. I contribute the outcome of that rescue to the Powerhawk tool.
It is interesting that as the years go by, hydraulics is taking a back seat to a new world of “electric” tools. These tools are presented as if they are something entirely new. This concept is by no means new. Powerhawk has now redesigned their tool for the 21st century. The tool body has been slightly modified to make it easier to use. The tips will rotate and lock in a 61 degree position, something no other tool can do. The tool is now stronger and more versatile. The really cool thing is the new battery system. The P4 tool no longer uses the 12 volt system, but rather a 43.2 Lithium Ion battery that is smaller than batteries used by other electric tools. The battery, along with the motor technology, delivers in EDD a 1.4kW, which is close to what a small gasoline engine puts out used in hydraulic pumps. The battery has a charge indicator to let you know how much power is left. If you need continuous use, you can get the EDD power adaptor that can be plugged in.
The tool weighs 45 pounds with the battery and tip attachments. The tool is 24 inches long and 10.5 inches wide. The spreader can deliver from 9200 to 175,000 lbf (pound-force) depending on the placement of the spreader arms. The maximum cutting force is 220,000 lbf. As you can see, the tool has the power of any combination tool and more than some full size tools. My question has always been with any electric tool, how long before my battery runs out? Well, there is one big factor here to consider, the capability of the user. I had a chance to put that to the test not too long ago. I was considerably impressed that we were able to completely destroy a vehicle. The top was removed, the doors were removed and we pushed the dash, all on one charge. Had we not played with the tool as much as we did, it would have done two vehicles before a battery change would have been needed. I have to give Powerhawk credit, they improved on their technology to once again be ahead of the electric tools they are paired with. They invented the first electric rescue tool and they have now made it even better. For more information on the P4 Rescue Tool, go to www.powerhawk.com.
I also ran across a little tool made by Channellock. The tool is called the Channellock 86, nine-inch rescue tool. Now keep in mind that any tool that does more than one thing is a better tool. One that does multiple things can be a great tool. This tool will do multiple jobs. The head of the tool is made like a standard pair of wire pliers. It has a flat tip, a flat edge for gripping, a hole and blade cutters at the hinge. They have also put a spring at the head for better single-handed operation. They laser treated the cutting edge for better cutting of hard and soft wire. The spanner wrench on the handle will loosen up to five-inch couplings and the gas valve cutoff will allow you to shut off gas safety valves. The tool is also hooked on the end for getting into and prying windows and doors. You can see more about the tool at www.channellock.com/rescue-tool.aspx.
There are lots of neat tools and equipment out there to see and use, so take the time to check them out. Until next time, spend the time to train so you can be good at using the equipment that you have.