Archive for the ‘Machinery’ Category

truckfire2By Brian Butler

“Engine 4 is on location, we have a vehicle fully involved, pulling a line.” It’s not really a thorough “size up” but more of a brief radio report of what you got and what you’re doing. It’s simple, short, and to the point. But after that report, we should perform a more thorough mental size up when dealing with automobiles and moving machinery. This includes ensuring proper apparatus placement, traffic control, proper line selection and proactive awareness of the typical dangers such as launching struts, burning magnesium, numerous airbags (inflators), plastic fuel tanks and running fuel fires (which is why proper apparatus placement is so important). See our vehicle fires page for more.

These on-approach size ups should be done by everyone on board, not just the company officer. The pump operator, nozzleman and officer ALL NEED to size up vehicles involved in fires, accidents or both for various reasons. (Most vehicle fires send one engine to handle the job. Some departments may attach a truck, squad, or rescue company).

A mental size up just means it’s not being announced on the radio, but you’re still analyzing what’s in front of you. Most radio reports should be kept brief unless it’s a major incident involving a target hazard vehicle like an occupied school bus with entrapment, or a gasoline tanker which would require additional resources, shutting down highways etc..

Add a fire to this incident. What’s your plan with a 3-man engine company?

TARGET HAZARD VEHICLES: There are some vehicles I label “target hazard” vehicles. They’re types of vehicles and moving machinery that have the potential to further complicate the incident when they’re involved in an accident, fire, or both.

The term “moving machinery” is broad and defined as any machine in motion on our roads and highways. Trailers hauling numerous vehicles, landscaping trailers with agriculture-lawn mowers, gasoline on-board, wood chipper trailers, sanitation trucks with (roll off) compactors, large construction vehicles on trailers, wide load vehicle transports, and other large machinery being hauled that may become unstable or add additional fuel to the fire. Simply put, it’s the shit you worry about when you arrive on scene and realize you do not have the manpower or equipment to handle the incident. Then Murphy shows up and gives you a rapid rescue that needs to take place.

The definition of a “target hazard” vehicle is simple; it’s any vehicle that when involved in an accident or fire, SHOULD raise a red flag. Some examples are:

-CNG Transit Bus

-School Bus

-RV’s, Food Trucks (Propane)

-Sanitation Trucks (Garbage, Recycling)

-Hazmat Delivery Trucks (Fuel Delivery, Propane, Gasoline Tanker)

-Cement Trucks


-Armored Trucks

When these types of transportation machinery are involved in fires or accidents, use extreme caution and properly size up all vehicles involved before taking any action.

Urban Fire Training offers an advanced class on transportation machinery. This is a valuable class and the only one out there on sizing up moving transportation machinery.

Schedule a class for your department by emailing

ELEVATORS, TRAINS, and AUTOMOBILES: Sizing up Transportation and Passenger Occupied Machinery. 



Every minute of the day brings the potential for a machinery rescue response. Think about it, how many vehicle extrications are there in the U.S. every single day? How many rings are cut off by rescue companies and emergency room personnel every single day? How many kids get their fingers stuck in toys, bicycle parts, or their head stuck between railings every single day?


Photo by Brian Butler

If we put vehicle extrication aside, many common machinery rescues are minor extrications, disentanglement, disassembles, cutting, lubing, or simply repositioning someone out of a pinch. But think about all the potential entrapment, pin, crush, and stuck limb incidents that can happen in your response area.

Photo by Brian Butler: Old vertical baler compactor in a Trenton NJ warehouse.

Machinery responses can involve trains, elevators, escalators, industrial, manufacturing plant machinery, conveyor belts, commercial kitchens, amusement parks, car washes, correctional facilities, auto shops, hospitals, appliances, food processing plants, and fitness centers to name a few. Have you ever thought about accidents that could possibly happen that would require a machinery rescue response? How many people are operating ATV’s (all terrain vehicles) snow blowers, presses, slicers, grinders, construction and agricultural equipment in your response area?

Believe it, the potential is there!

Photo by Brian Butler: Trenton Transit Station.

Kids clothing or limbs caught in escalators can have deadly results, and will require extrication, and disassembly.

After attending a “Man vs Machinery” class at the New York State Technical Rescue Conference, put on by PL Vulcan Training it took no less than a week to put together a well-equipped machinery tool box. They are relatively inexpensive to put together and each kit should be equipped for the type of response area it will serve. Urban areas will differ from rural areas (agriculture vs industrial). The tool boxes are great for practicing skills like removal and cutting of rings, meat grinders, pvc pipe, railings, or fishing stuck fingers out of fuel fillers. The training and use of numerous tools and tricks of the trade make firemen more creative when it comes to thinking outside the box, which can contribute to a successful rescue someday.

You never know when a freak accident will happen on your watch. Every firefighter should highly consider attending a “Man vs Machine” training day.


Photo by Brian Butler: NY Technical Rescue Conference, Montour Falls NY 


Norristown PA: Members of Rescue 21 and elements of the Southeastern Montgomery County Technical Rescue Task Force and King of Prussia Rescue 47 were dispatched to Morabito Bakery in Norristown for a subject with his arm caught in a processing machine. The crew arrived and blended into the manpower pool helping gather equipment, assisting the medics, and formulating Plan B, C, and D. Team leaders from Montgomery County USAR also arrived to lend their expertise. After approximately 40 minutes of dismantling and cutting the machine, the subject was freed and transported by medics.

Below is a machinery tool box and a compiled list of potential accidents and incidents just waiting to happen, including types of occupancies where they might occur. It should make one realize that it’s very possible that the machinery tool box will eventually be utilized, or utilized again.




Above photos by Brian Butler

Below: A list of tools to consider when creating a machinery kit:


Tools (continued) and occupancies where accidents might occur.


Car wash incident.


As you can see, the potential is there for these high risk/low frequency incidents.

MURPHY’S LAW: Imagine a scenario where a single truck company is dispatched for a stalled elevator. Upon arrival, the company officer notices the elevator is stuck on the 7th floor. He sends the low man up to the penthouse to secure the power and makes his way up to floor seven. The low man enters the roof area and hears loud screaming coming from the elevator machine room. Upon opening the penthouse door, he sees an elevator repairman with his arm caught in the drive sheave of a traction elevator.

This is most likely an amputation at best, and a serious machinery accident. This fireman has been to over 50 elevator calls, but didn’t expect this. Having knowledge of elevators and machinery rescue may help with initial actions in this particular scenario. Power shutdown, stabilizing (chocking), requesting additional resources, medics, rescue company, building maintenance, elevator engineer and disassembly comes to mind immediately. If his tool belt/box is present, it may have the tools needed to take apart the drive machine around his arm once movement and power secure.

(Of course safety features and precautions used when repairing elevators have come a long way since the 1980’s, but this has happened before.)

The point here is, you never know.

For more on machinery rescue, visit PL Vulcan Training Concept

For more on elevators, visit UrbanFireTraining.Com

Photos by Brian Butler: Machinery and Agricultural Rescue training at the NY State Technical Rescue Conference held at the New York State Fire Academy.