ED 330 877
CE 057 710
Rescue Manual. Module 3.
Ohio State Univ., Columbus. Instructional Materials
39p.; For related modules, see CE 057 708-717.
Photographs may not reproduce well.
Instructional Materials Laboratory, Ohio State
University, 842 West Goodale Blvd., Columbus, OH
43212 ($4.25; set of 10, $33.00).
Guides - Classroom Use - Instructional Materials (For
MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Accidents; "Electricity; "Emergency Programs;
"Emergency Squad Personnel; First Aid; Learning
Modules; Occupational Safety and Health;
Postsecondary Education; "Rescue; Safety;
This learner manual for rescuers covers the current
techniques or practices required in the rescue service. The third of
10 modules contains 4 chapters: (1) forcible entry; (2) structure
search and rescue; (3) rescue operations involving electricity; and
(4) cutting torches. Key points, an introduction, and conclusion
accompany substantive material in each chapter. (NLA)
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TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC)."
^ Forcible Entry
Structure Search and Rescue
Rescue Operations Involving Electricity
BEST COPY AVAILABLE
INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS LABORATORY
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
COLUMBUS, OHIO 43210
Copyright 1989 by The Ohio State University. All rights reserved.
Edited and distributed by the
Instructional Materials Laboratory
The Ohio State University
College of Education
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Rescue operations mav subject both rescuer and victim to the possibility of injury or death. Rescuers must understand
the nature and effect of each rescue technique, and practice techniques regularly, using this text to enhance their
learning. The materials and information presented here are intended only as a learning aid, and are no substitute for
training. Expert opinions, recommendations, and guidelines change as research and experience refine procedures. This
text includes the most up-to-date information from rescuers working in the field.
Specialized procedures require demonstration and training by subject-matter experts. It is not likely that a rescuer
will become proficient in all rescue operations. MoBt rescuers develop proficiency in only a few areas but may be
familiar with several others.
This text suggests procedures and explains how to do them. The techniques given are guidelines only. Each department
should incorporate its own procedures and address local needs.
Nondiscrimination Policy The policy of The Ohio State University, both traditionally and currently, is that
discrimination against anv individual for reasons of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, a«e, handicap, or
Vietnam-era veteran status is specifically prohibited. Title IX of the Education Amendment* of 1972 prohibits sex
discrimination and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of handicap in
education programs and activities. Accordingly, equal access to employment opportunities, admissions, education
programs, and all other University activities is extended to all persons, and the University promotes equal opportunity
through a positive and continuing "'firmative action program.
INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS LABORATORY
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
COLUMBUS, OHIO 43210
ERIC 1 4
Acknowledgment is extended to the following persons for their willingness to share their knowledge and
expertise and for authoring information presented in this module:
Structure Search and Rescue
Gary Fellows, Fire Protection Engineer, Wheeling/Pittsburg Steel, Steubenvile, Ohio
Louis Vargo, Fire Chief, Mt. Pleasant Fire Department, Mt. Pleasant, Ohio
Greg Lash, Columbus Division of Fire, Columbus, Ohio
The intent of this manual for rescuers is to provide the latest instructional content and serve as an up-
to-date, comprehensive source of information covering the current techniques or practices required in the
rescue service. To help in this endeavor, an instructor's manual has been developed to be used in conjunction
with this learner's manual The manual has been produced in a series f modules to facilitate future revisions
more rapidly and cost effectively.
The instructor's manual follows the key points identified in the text. Chapters have been included in the
text which exceed those printed in any other resource. These include managing and operating the emergency
vehicle, rope rescue techniques, industrial rescue, farm accident rescua, and various water emergency procedures,
That the rescue profession is a dangerous and challenging career is a recognized fact. It is our hope that
this text will help the rescuer meet the challenges of the rescue service in a safe and professional manner.
Instructional Materials Laboratory
College of Education
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University Instructional Materials Laboratory has played a major role in the training of
public safety personnel through the development of text materials for many years. Due to the advances in
the rescue techniques, it became apparent that the existing text was obsolete. Upon the advice of many
knowlegeable people in the rescue service, the Instructional Materials Laboratory initiated the development
of a new text that would be easily updated, and address the needs of the rescuer. To this end, an editorial
review board representing a broad spectrum of individuals in the various phases of the research profession
was convened to determine what topics this text should address. The culmination of this effort is the Rescue
Manual. It is hoped that this text will be useful to not only the new rescuer but will servt as a reference
source for the experienced rescuer.
College of Education
The Ohio State University
College of Education
The Ohio State University
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Forcible Entry 1
Structure Search and Rescue 2
Rescue Operations Involving Electricity 15
Cutting Torches 25
The 1989 Rescue Manual has been grouped into ten modules in accordance with the recommendations
from the Rescue Editorial Board.
Occupational Stresses in Rescue Operations
Reporting and Recordkeeping
Tools and Equipment for Rescue Operations
Planning for Emergency Operations
Incident Command System
Dealing with Natural Disasters
Patient Care and Handling Techniques
Rescue Carries and Drags
Emergency Vehicle Operation
Self- Contained Breathing Apparatus
Structure Search and Rescue
Rescue Operations Involving Electricity
Construction and Characteristics of Rescue Rope
Knots, Bends, and Hitches
Using the Brake-Bar Rack for Rope Rescue
Rope Rescue Techniques
Aerial Ladder and Aerial Platfoim Rescue
Rescue From a Confined Space
Extrication From Heavy Equipment
Rescue Operations Involving Elevators
Extrication From Vehicles
Shoring and Tunneling Techniques
Farm Accident Rescue
Wilderness Search and Rescue
River Characteristics and Tactics for Rescue
Water Rescue Techniques
Water Rescue/Recovery Operations
Water Rescue Equipment
Water Rescue Safety Tips
PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICES PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE
For ordering and pricing information contact:
Instructional Materials Laboratory
The Ohio State University
842 W. Goodale Blvd.
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Phone (614) 221-4950
• The use of each type of manual forcible-entry tool
• Methods and procedures for properly cleaning, maintaining, and inspecting forcible-entry tools and
• Materials and construction features of doors, windows, roofs, floors, and vertical barriers, and the
dangers associated with each in an emergency situation
• Techniques for forcibly entering doors, windows, ceilings, roofs, floors, and vertical barriers
Rescuers must often gain entry to buildings to
search for victims. The succes3 of these operations
depends on the rescuers' ability to quickly gain ac-
cess to these buildings.
There are two basic types of axes used for rescue
today, the flat head and the pick head axe (see
Figures 1-A and 1-B). When carrying a pick head
axe, it is important that the head of the axe be
carried with the cutting edge pointing away from
the body and the pick shielded with the hand (see
Since an axe becomes dulled quickly through use,
Figure 1-B. Pick Head Axe
a sharp edge is not necessary. Moreover the axe
blade may be ground thin by sharpening, and a thin
edge may break or chip easily and is a potential
hazard. While newer axes have fiberglass handles,
many axes have wooden handles. Wooden handles
on axes and other tools should not be painted, be-
cause paint may camouflage hidden cracks in the
wooden handles and create a hazard to the user. A
coating of linseed oil should be applied to all wooden
handles for protection and preservation.
Bolt cutters are used to cut padlocks, bars, and
hasps. A bolt cutter may also be used to help free
trapped occupants from vehicles. It is important to
Figure 3. Bolt Cutter
remember that the case-hardened steel found in
many locks cannot be cut with a bolt cutter (see
The tools commonly used for prying are the Hal-
ligan tool, claw tool, Kelly tool, pry axe, Hux bar,
and the pry bar (see Figure 4). These tools may be
used to force open locked doors and windows and
pry materials apart. Some of these tools are designed
to perform other jobs as well. One example of this
is the Hux bar, which may also be used as a hydrant
With few exceptions, the power tools used for
forcible entry are powered by either gasoline engines
or electricity (see Figure 5). Other tools are run by
hydraulic oil and compressed air (see Figure 6).
This tool is used to breach brick walls and force
doors that cannot be opened by any other means or
that must be opened immediately. To breach a brick
wall, a pickaxe must be used first to remove brick
in an area approximately three feet from the ground.
The battering ram is held by the handles by two
persons on each side with the forked end toward
Figure 4. Prying Tools
Figure 5. Electric Saw
F/^ure 6. Air Ch/seJ
the wall, swung back at arm's length, then thrust
agaiv t the wall with a slight lifting motion as it
strikes the wall. If the battering ram is used to force
a door, the blunt end (rather than the forked end)
of the ram should strike the door beneath the lock
(see Figure 7),
Lock pullers such as the K tool are designed to
Figure 7 Battering Ram
remove cylinder locks. In use, the K tool lock puller
is driven onto che cylinder lock and then pried off
with a Halligan or similar tool. The Kerry key is
used to release the latch, A variety of tools ?re used
by rescue personnel to gain entry into buildings, and
rescuers should become familiar with all the tools
PREPLANNING FOR ENTRY
In preparation for forcible entry, rescuers should
determine which buildings in their area will probably
need to be forced open. This preplanning should be
accomplished before a rescue is needed. The follow-
ing points should be considered:
• Which buildings are locked during part of the
day, and when they are locked,
» Which buildings are always open at the street
entrance, but have individual units that may
require forced entry,
• Which buildings are locked at a street entrance
and at an inner lobby door, both of which might
have to be forced,
• Which buildings have doors that, when locked,
can be easily forced open, and which have doors
that are difficult to force, (For the latter, rescuers
may be able to obtain keys to be carried on the
• Which buildings can be entered from the rear
and sides, as well as the front. Normally, front
entrances are the easiest to force, but the lo-
cations and construction of windows and doors
at the sides and rear might allow them to be
used most effectively for forced entry — especially
if the front door is difficult to force,
• Which buildings have private security forces that
will respond to an alarm with keys, thereby
eliminating the need for forcible entry,
• Which buildings might present forcible entry
problems as exposures, should a nearby or at-
tached structure become involved with fire,
• Which is the best way to enter problem buildings
by force if that should become necessary,
When rescue personnel arrive at the scene of an
emergency, they must first determine if forcible entry
is necessary to gain entry. Check all doors to see if
they are locked before forcing a door* Remember,
no matter how proficient rescuers are at forcible
entry, anything that must be forced will be damaged.
It does not make sense to force a door when it is
not locked or there is another door which is open.
There have been occasions when this has been done.
Because of the many different types of windows
manufactured today, it would not be practical to
include specifications regarding each type of window
in this chapter. Only the most common windows will
A double-hung window has a lock located where
the upper and lower sash meet (see Figure 8). If the
Figure 8. Checkrail (Double-Hung) Windows
Figure 9. Prying Open a Double-Hung Window
er|c best copy
window is made of wood, this lock can often be
forced out of the wood by using a prying tool in the
middle of the bottom sash (see Figure 9). If the
window is made of metal and glass, the glass will
>iave to be broken and the lock released.
Combination Storm Windows
A combination storm window is constructed so
that the storm window and screen are stored in one
unit. The storm window slides up for summer storage
as the screen slides down. This process is reversed
for winter storage. Some of these windows are con-
structed to provide for removal of storm windows
and screens for cleaning. The problem rescuers en-
counter is that these windows and screens must be
removed from the inside. Because the frames of these
windows are made of aluminum, they will be dam-
aged if forced. In many instances it is better to break
the glass and/or remove the screen to gain entry.
Casement windows are hinged on the sides and
swing away from the structure as a crank is turned.
They are locked by a latch that is found between
the two windows. It is recommended that these
windows be opened by removing the screen if nec-
essary, breaking the glass on the side where the
crank is located, reaching in and upward to release
the latch, and then turning the crank to open.
This style of window is constructed to open by
swinging either outward or inward. Factory windows
are made of metal with a latch-type lock (see Figures
10-A and 10-B). If the window contains more than
one pane of glass, break the pane nearest the latch,
Figure Multi-Paned Factory Window
Figure 10-B. Latch on Multi-Paned Factory Window
and swing the window either in or out. Some factory-
style windows used in public buildings have only
one large pane of glass; in this case break the glass,
remove the rough pieces around the edge, and climb
through the window (see Figures 11-A and 11-B).
Figure 11-A. Single-Paned Factory Window
Figure 11-B. Latch on Single-Paned Factory Window
Although it is easier to open a window than to
force a door, there are buildings that do not have
windows. In this situation the rescuer must force
open the door to gain entry. In all cases, try to
open any door before forcing to see if it is
in fact locked. Many types of doors are used in
building construction; only the most common will
be considered in this chapter.
All residential doors swing in and are either hol-
low-core or solid-core doors. A hollow-core door has
several layers of plywood veneer glued over strips
of wood or some other material such as corrugated
cardboard to form a strong door. This type of door
is usually found inside a house. The entrance doors
are usually solid core doors. These doors are con-
structed of solid wood. They are much heavier than
hollow core doors and considerably more expensive.
Because opening a door that swings in is quite dif-
ficult, the following procedure is recommended.
If the door is in a stepped frame, the straight
head of the Kelly tool may be inserted between the
door and the jamb (see Figure 12). Then, by prying
toward the door, the door may be sprung past the
If the door is in a rabbeted frame, there is little
chance of spri ving the frame. The cross head of
the Kelly tool may be inserted between the door
and the jamb as shown in Figure 13. Prying against
the door will break the door itself, the jamb, or the
lock. If the door has glass in it, it is better to break
the glass and manipulate the lock from the inside.
Figure 12. Kelly Tool Used on Door That Swings
Figure 13. Kelly Tool Used on Rabbeted Jamb
To insure security, many people have installed
more than one locking device on an entrance door.
When this situation is encountered it may be easier
to gain entry through a window. If no windows are
available, the door may have to be destroyed to gain
entry. Many entrance doors in homes have glass in
the upper half. In this case, the glass may be broken
to gain access to the lock.
Doors Found in Commercial Buildings
There are many types of doors used in commercial
buildings. Through company inspections and pre-
planning, the rescuer will become familiar with for-
cible entry requirements of special buildings.
Single-Hinged Door. All single-hinged doors in
places of business should open outward. Single-hinged
doors that open outward may be opened from the
swing side with an axe, as shown in Figure 14. The
Figure 14. Opening Door With Axe
blade of the axe is inserted between the jamb and
the door, just above or below the lock. Prying with
the handle to one side away from the door, will
usually spring the jamb enough to let the lock bolt
pass under the keeper. The Kelly tool may also be
used for this purpose (see Figure 15). The Buster
Figure 15. Opening Door With Kelly Tool
bar or Hux bar may be use i for prying open a door
in a manner similar to the Kelly tool. Either the
straight or the cross head end of this tool may be
used where a door is near a partition permitting
better leverage with the tool.
Single-hinged doors on warehouses, stables, and
other buildings may be locked with a hasp and
padlock. If so, the staple of the hasp may be pried
or twisted off with a tool such as shown in Figure
16. The point of the tool is inserted in the staple
end. If a pry will not remove it, it may be twisted
off, taking the lock with ? .t.
Figure ±6. Prying a Hasp Lock
Overhead Lift Door. Overhead lift doors are
easily operated once the lock is released (see Figure
17). Generally, they are locked with sliding bars that
must be broken or sprung to release the door. Over-
head lift doors may be forced by prying upward at
the bottom of the door with a crow bar, claw tool,
or other good prying tool. Once the lock bar is
BEST COPY AVAILABLE
Figure 17. Overhead Lift Door
broken, the door will open easily.
Overhead rolling doors are made of steel and offer
the greatest resistance of all to forcible entry (see
Figure 18). Due to the fact that they are operated
with a worm gear, the door cannot be raised except
by operating the worm with the chain that is pro-
vided (see Figure 19). Prying the door is liable to
spring it so that it canncc be operated even with
the worm gear. Ther^ . vi two alternative methods
to gain entry throuf/ ; "oiling door. The fastest
method is to cut an opening through which rescuers
may enter. The alternative is to knock out the wall
alongside the door, making a hole large enough to
operate the chain.
Tempered-Glass Door. The use of tempered
glass or full-vision doors is increasing rapidly. Usu-
ally, there is no frame around the glass, and the
locking hardware is either at the top or the bottom
of the door. The tempering produces high-tension
Figure 18. Overhead Rolling Door
Figure 19. Worm Gear and Chain of Overhead Door
stresses in the center of the glass and compression
stresses at the exterior surface. Tempering increases
the flexibility and the strength approximate 11 * rt our
times. It is more resistant to shock, pressure, and
impact and will withstand, without breaking, tem-
peratures of 650 degrees Fahrenheit on one side while
the other is exposed to normal temperatures. Doors
made of tempered glass are custom built and very
costly. They should never be broken if any other
means of entry is available.
Pulling Cylinder Locks
If necessary, the use of the K Lock Tool will
enable entry by pulling the lock cylinder out of the
Throughout this chapter, the forcible-entry situ-
ations that are most commonly encountered have
been addressed. It is possible that rescuers will en-
counter many different situations that are not ad-
dressed anywhere in text form. For this reason
rescuers need to become familiar with the tools used
in the local department, the buildings located in the
vicinity of the department, and the preplanning ac-
tivities and procedures.
STRUCTURE SEARCH AND RESCUE
The importance of search and rescue procedures
The primary search
The secondary search
Rescue personnel are subject to great risk and are
often injured while conducting search and rescue
operations within a burning structure. When search-
ing for occupants within a fire structure, do not
disregard personal safety that could result with col-
lapse. Rescuers must be in good physical condition,
wear proper protective equipment, and wear proper
breathing equipment (when required) during rescue
One rescuer who fails to perform his or her share
of a rescue could hamper the total rescue. Calling
additional personnel to assist a fallen or injured
rescuer, or the death of a rescuer or occupant within
the structure will slow rescue procedures.
Throughout the search and rescue process main-
tain constant contact with the incident commander
and report emergency conditions as they are found.
CONDITIONS OF THE RESCUE
During structural search and rescue, evaluate the
physical conditions to which the rescuers are sub-
jected, not only as they relate to the building, equip-
ment, and atmospheric degradation, but also in terms
of the psychological effects these conditions have on
the rescuer and the victim. Two psychological con-
siderations are anxiety and exertion. Anxiety is the
eagerness to serve or the desire to perform the rescue,
the fear of the unknown, and concern for one's
personal survival. Exertion is striving or laboring
due to a rapid change of physical demands. Anxiety
and exertion can be reduced by anticipating the
stress, by mental discipline, and by the fact that
the rescuer has had training and rescue experiences
with the operation being performed.
For protection from excessive temperatures found
during a search and rescue operation, wear approved
protective clothing (helmet, hood, coat, gloves, pants,
and boots) and use a self-contained breathing ap-
paratus (SCBA). Protective clothing, as well as the
SCBA, must be stored and cared for according to
manufacturer's specifications. See the chapters on
protective clothing and SCBAs.
The Victim's Condition
Be aware of the physical and emotional condition
of the victim or victims. Each victim may react
differently. The following conditions are commonly
• A victim's mobility may be affected by fire gases
that can affect rational behavior
• A victim's field of vision may be greatly dimin-
ished or the victim may become disoriented from
• A victim may be irrational
• A victim may panic if the escape routes are
• A victim may be in shock and unable to adjust
emotionally to the rapidly changing situation
• An elderly victim or a small child may try to
hide because of fear
• A victim may be unde * .e influence of alcohol
• A victim may be physically handicapped or ill
• A victim may fail to recognize the severity of
the fire or attempt to fight the fire rather than
leave the building
Rescue personnel can also become victims on the
fireground because of the following:
• Lack of protective equipment
• Equipment failure
• Becoming lost or disoriented
• An exhausted air supply
• Rapid fire development because of flashover,
backdraft, building collapse, or explosion
It is important that all rescue personnel be ac-
counted for on a fireground throughout a rescue
operation. It is essential to work in pairs in case
one person becomes trapped or disoriented. When
rescuers work in teams, the danger is shared and
help is readily available in case there is a need. A
team of rescuers also makes the response quicker
by having four eyes to see and four ears to hear.
Communication between team members usually re-
duces risk-taking by rescuers. Before entering any
building to conduct a search, look for alternate exits,
such as the doors and windows. Additional factors
to consider include the following:
• Time. Be alert to the day of the week, the month,
and the season of the year.
• Weather. Observe the humidity, fog, and
• Occupancy of building. Check to see if it is an
individual residence, a single or multi-family
dwelling, an educational facility, a public assem-
bly facility, or a manufacturing site.
• Logistical. Evaluate the terrain of approach, the
street or alley access, the exposures, and the
number of personnel and equipment on the scene.
• Life hazard. Be alert to the life hazard for the
occupants, fire personnel, and bystanders.
• Rescue operations. The incident commander
should evaluate the need for company officers
and rescue personnel.
THE PRIMARY SEARCH
All elements of search and rescue are important;
however, during the primary search emphasize the
conditions of the emergency and the purpose of the
search. Begin the primary search immediately upon
arrival at the scene.
In the case of a fire, conduct the primary search
before the fire is under control. The search must
be systematic (see Figure 20). Start on one side of
the building and continue to search until every room
in an assigned area has been checked. Never wander
aimlessly within a burning structure. A rescuer can
become lost or disoriented. Perform the primary
Figure 20. Search Pattern
search quickly and thoroughly. Do not overlook
anything (see Figure 21).
One of the most dangerous parts of any burning
structure is the floor directly above the fire. Always
carry forcible entry equipment such as a HalHgan
tool or an ax that can be used to enter a room that
is excessively hot, or to probe for victims who may
have taken cover, e.g., under a bed.
Also use forcible entry equipment to gain access
to individual rooms and to assist in ventilating an
area for the hose crew searching for fire. When
ventilating, be careful not to draw the fire toward
When searching a large open area, take a safety
line inside the building to be searched (see Figure
22). The safety line must be tied to the rescuer, not
to the rescuer's breathing apparatus. A hoseline can
be used for this purpose. Carry a charged hoseline
to extinguish fires that block an exit, and to contain
a fire and keep it from extending to the search area.
The Search Process
During the search, move all furniture and search
behind and underneath it. Children often try to hide
from the fire and smoke, so it is important to search
all closets and bathrooms.
When entering a smoke-filled area, look down
toward the feet. If it is not possible to see the feet,
drop to the hands and knees. Since heat and smoke
tend to rise, this position allows greater visibility.
It also helps rescuers find obstructions or holes in
STRUCTURE SEARCH AND RESCUE
« ' L< irrj t d- - i i:..iy
t f»mp« 'rar i I y < "-«n t .1 i n i
" ! i : .
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fi)\*'i\ i lit* i :*. I >u.d • t: : : !
i'!, uyt?d h'-'.ic I i
Frr.tip wi rh the i og - >t
• i tool ti. lo.Mft- .ny
victim lyincj olouu :c
^ door n window.
Ki ip mi 1 ' r»-:;n in
p,- v . j f , f .,r, to i nH : "ito i
u< "it /in t..jf5 been
f*e- ironed .
Ch«?ok undoi «ind behind ri; ; i ! .r»* h • r
bed:.. M;-=h a 1 ■ >r ci t'»ol unde
* bed. s?we»-i.« yenlly Mi'-k - 1 ? * 1
Ventilate rooms while moving through
the Kearoh. Be cm r etui rnot to extend
fire by vent ilat ion,
l)o not wander aimlennly, plan the noarch.
Always move toward light, ventilation, and
secondary means of exit.
Figure 21. Primary Search
J 1 ft
BEST COPY AVAILABLE
Figure 22. Safety Line
the floor, preventing injuries to the rescuers.
Before entering a room to be searched, feel the
door for excessive heat Never stand in front of the
door. Keep the body low and to one side when
opening t-*e door. If there is a fire behind the door,
as it is opened the fire will go above and away from
the opening. Never kick in a door— a victim may be
behind it. If a door is hard to open, slowly push the
door open, feeling behind it to check for a possible
victim who may have collapsed while attempting to
If a fire is encountered during the search, trapped
rescuers can protect themselves by closing a door
behind them. This can contain the fire long enough
to find a secondary exit, or for help to arrive.
Rescuers must also remember to keep their heads
up % when ascending or descending stairs. Always
maintain a wide stance when going up or down
stairways. This distributes the body weight over a
greater area and decreases the possibility of struc-
Once a room has been searched, mark the area to
keep other teams from duplicating the search. Mark
the rooms "searched" by some predetermined method
such as placing furniture in the doorway, or placing
chalk marks, tape, or latch straps over the door
knobs. Whichever form of marking is used, make it
known to all rescuers during training sessions that
it is a standard operating procedure of the
Once the primary search team has completed the
search, tell the incident commander the situation
encountered, such as victims recovered, and the
amount of fire extension. Also tell the incident com-
mander when the entire search team is out of the
THE SECONDARY SEARCH
The secondary search is done by a second rescue
team. This action ensures the thoroughness of the
primary search and is usually conducted once the
fire is under control. Use the same search techniques
in the secondary search as in the primary search.
Conduct the secondary search systematically. During
the secondary search, attempt to identity victims
not found during the primary search, check for fire
exter *ion, shut off utilities, locate danger areas (each
should have been roped off and secured), and con-
Search the outside premises in this phase of the
search process. This action can provide information
regarding victims who may still be inside, and in-
formation about the nature of the fire conditions
from those who have already escaped. Check the
windows and roof to see if anyone has jumped from
the building. Victims may be on rooftops waiting to
be rescued. Watch for victims trying to re-enter the
building in an attempt to rescue another victim or
obtain personal belongings.
For a rescuer who becomes lost or disoriented
during a search, the following suggestions are helpful:
• Follow a wall to a window or door.
• Follow joints in the floor to find a wall.
• Look for light from a window.
• Go down a stairway. Never go up a stairway-
fire gases and heat always rise.
• Follow a hoseline or a safety line.
• If a stairwell is not intact or safe, proceed to an
adjacent room, find a window, and drop some-
thing outside in an effort to catch someone's
• If the SCBA tank becomes empty, disconnect
the breathing tube from the regulator and place
it inside the turnout coat to obtain air trapped
under the coat.
• Activate a personal-alert device.
After the Search
Once the search is completed, notify the incident
commander of the conditions found within the struc-
ture. The summary report should include informa-
tion about the status of the utilities, the fire extension,
and the location of potential traps or hazards. The
incident commander needs this information so fire-
fighting crews working within the structure can be
advised of the situation and obtain more assistance
STRUCTURE SEARCH AND RESCUE
When conducting a building search:
• Work systematically; follow a pattern whenever
entering or exiting a room or building.
• Mark the points of entry and exit,
• Always work in a team of two or more and
• Maintain contact with the wall and sweep the
floor area; probe under, behind, and on top of
all furniture, especially beds and chairs.
• Check all closets and bathrooms.
• Use the human senses of touch, sight, and hear-
ing. Pause to hear moans, crying, gasps, or
RESCUE OPERATIONS INVOLVING ELECTRICITY
• Characteristics of electricity
• Assessing the electrical emergency
• Equipment used for electrical emergencies
• Pulling an electrical meter
• Cutting the drip loop
• Responding to an emergency involving electricity
• Moving an energized wire
• Handling victims who are in contact with electricity
• Static elect, icity
The most perplexing situation rescuers can en-
counter is a victim trapped by an energized wire.
Most rescuers have a basic knowledge of electricity
but do not possess the expertise to handle energized
wires. Power company personnel are the experts in
handling energized wires and must be used as a
resource by the incident commander. When an elec-
trical emergency occurs, the incident commander
should develop a defensive plan of action, request
assistance from the power company, reassure the
victim, and wait for the power company's assistance.
Unfortunately, there are life-threatening situations
in which the incident commander cannot wait for
the power company and must intervene. It is not
the intent of this text to make the rescuer an expert;
its intent is only to show the safest techniques to
use in life-threatening situations involving energized
wires. These technique" must be practiced by res-
cuers, and a working relationship must be established
between each department and the local power com-
pany. Power company personnel can assist in the
development of standard operating procedures to
deal with electrical accidents involving life-thieat-
Electricity can be compared to water flow at the
scene of a fire. Just as the fire engine serves as a
pump for water, an electric generating plant serves
as the pump for electricity (see Figure 23). At a fire
Figure 23. Generating Plant
scene, moving water is measured by how it moves
in gallons per minute, while at an electric generating
plant electricity is measured in volts.
From the generating plants, the electricity is passed
through a series of wires and devices, just as in the
pumper water flows through hoses of various sizes
and different types of appliances. Electric plants
produce electrical energy at very high voltages. The
main distributing lines from the electric generating
plant may carry up to 76o,000 volts of electricity
(see Figure 24). Electricity is distributed to various
substations in local areas (see Figure 25) where it
is divided into a lower voltage (approximately 15,000
volts) for further distribution.
The % electricity then passes through transmission
lines along local highways. Electric companies follow
strict guidelines in the placement of electric lines
on the poles. The rescuer should have a basic un-
Figure 24. Main Distribution Line
Figure 25. Electric Substation
derstanding of the placement of these lines. The
highest lines are the primary lines (see Figure 26).
The second highest lines are the secondary lines,
and the lowest lines are the utility lines (TV cable
Figure 26. Primary Lines on Top
On some poles, a step-down transformer is located
between the primary and secondary lines (see Figure
27). The purpose of the step-down transformer is to
reduce the voltage to a usable 220 to 440 volts. This
transformer may eigh as much as 1,000 pounds.
Figure 27. Step-Down Transformer
RESCUE OPERATIONS INVOLVING ELECTRICITY
Use extreme caution when working around step-
down transformers. Some of them contain a coolant
called polychlorinated biphenyl or PCB. The trans-
formers should be labeled as such and treated as a
hazardous material If the transformer is found to
be leaking, notify a hazardous materials team to
handle the situation*
From the pole, service lines run to a structure. A
drip loop is formed as the service line wire enters
the structure at the weatherhead (see Figure 28). In
some residences, the service lines are buried under-
ground (see Figure 29).
The service lines pass through a meter, which is
not a switch but a measuring device. The meter
should be in plain sight and located at the entrance
of the service lines (see Figure 30).
From the meter, electricity is then carried to the
fuse box or a circuit breaker box (see Figure 31).
At this point, the electricity is divided into smaller
circuits and distributed to different sections of a
structure. A main disconnect switch is on the outside
of the box. A main disconnect is also found at the
electric meter, or if the meter is more than 5' from
the box, there is a separate main disconnect switch.
The small circuits then pass through switches to
receptacles or fixtures. Receptacles come in various
styles. The two most common types are the grounded
and non-grounded types. The non-grounded type is
seldom used and does not meet most fire codes.
Larger receptacles are used for 220-volt circuits, and
are commonly found on machinery, stoves, clothes
dryers, etc. (see Figure 32).
Electricity is used for hundreds of applications in
homes and businesses. In its controlled form, elec-
tricity is a necessary fact of life and used by nearly
Figure 28. Drip Loop
Figure 29. Buried Service
Figure 30. Meter in Weather Enclosure
Assessing the Electrical Emergency
The rescuer must develop a respect for electric-
ity — it can be of great service at the rescue scene.
Electricity provides lighting and power for electri-
cally-driven equipment, and is of great assistance in
the rescue procedure.
When electricity is out of control it can be a killer,
The rescuer must consider all wires as energized and
dangerous, and secure all areas where electric wires
The rescuer who is conducting search, tunneling,
or debris removal procedures must keep in mind
that electrical hazards can be present. Downed wires
can cause conduction through guardrails, fences, and
wires not otherwise energized. The rescuer should
proceed through debris with caution and with the
backs of the hands turned forward. If the rescuer
comes in contact with a live wire, the muscle con-
tractions will pull away from the electricity. If the
wire comes in contact with the palms of the hands,
musck contractions will cause the rescuer to grab
the wire and be unable to remove the hands.
During all rescue operations involving electricity,
secure the scene and establish a danger zone. In all
nonlife-threatening situations, cut off the power at
the fuse or circuit breaker box. Turn off the main
switch to disconnect the power. If the main switch
is not accessible, pull out the main buss fuses located
at the top of the box or switch them to the off
position. If the circuit breaker boxes are inaccessible,
notify the power company as soon as possible.
In the event of a life-threatening emergency, it
may be necessary to use dangerous techniques to
disconnect the power. These procedures should be
used only for life-threatening situations when power
company personnel are not available, or their re-
sponse time is too long to be lifesaving,
These attempts should be made only by rescuers
skilled in such techniques and with the equipment
available to handle the situation.
Equipment Used for Electrical
The rope-weight tool is made of 100' of 1/4" or
3/8" polypropylene rope with 4" x 4" x 4" dry wood
weights attached to each end through a hole in the
center of the block. As the rope is brought through
the hole, it forms a loop so it can be grabbed with
a hot-stick or pike pole (see Figure 33), Polypro-
pylene rope is used because it is nonconductive. Keep
RESCUE OPERATIONS INVOLVING ELECTRICITY
Figure 33. Rope-Weight Tool
Figure 34, Hot-Stick
the rope clean and dry, and do not use it for any
A hot-stick is a specially designed nonconductive
tools used to move energized wires. The tool should
be insulated and have the capacity to extend to 18'
(see Figure 34). This tool allows the rescuer to work
at a distance and not get too close to the wire. Some
hot-sticks are made with a wire cutter at the tip
and have an insulated handle to protect the user.
The wire-handling kit is a commercially-available
kit containing a 16' telescoping pole with a pruning
tool, a shepherd hook, and a plier attachment. A 3'
rubber mat, lineperson's gloves, a gripping tool, and
a wire cutter are also included.
Lineperson's gloves are elbow-length rubber gloves
with leather protectors. Carry these gloves in a pouch
and keep them in a protected area on the rescue
Keep equipment used for electrical emergencies
clean and dry at all times. Test the equipment
regularly to ensure its reliability. Any small pin hole
in the gloves or the slightest damage to the tools
could prove disastrous to the rescuer. The power
company may provide testing for electrical equip-
ment upon request.
Wearing Protective Clothing
Using regular fire fighter's boots and protective
clothing is not recommended for handling electrical
emergencies. Fire boots are not the same as those
used by the electric lineperson. Even though fire
fighter's clothing is not enough protection, a rescuer
should be in full protective clothing when handling
any type of an electrical emergency. In addition to
full protective clothing, stand on a dry rubber mat
during the rescue operation.
Pulling an Electrical Meter
In a life-threatening situation where the fuse box
or circuit breakers are inaccessible, remove the elec-
trical current by pulling the meter. This procedure
must be aj proved by the incident commander and
must be a standard operating procedure for the
specific situation. Remember, when attempting any
rescue procedure involving electricity, wear full pro-
tective clothing. Face shields must be down in place
and the rescuer must be turned away from the
electric wires when cutting or moving their
The first step in pulling the meter is to remove
the seal on the meter box. It is either a metal or
plastic tab (see Figure 35). Simply cutting the tab
will remove it. Then remove the outer cover from
Figure 35. Meter Box Seal
Some meters are fastened to the box with bolts
and cannot be pulled; however, most meters are
usually held in place with a retaining ring. This ring
is held in place with a screw or lift tab. To remove
the lift tab, raise it and remove the ring by twisting.
For the screw, carefully cut the screw with a pair
of diagonal cutting pliers or a bolt cutter.
Once the ring is removed, the meter can be com-
pletely removed. Keep all unnecessary personnel avvay
from the area. Turn away from the meter and quickly
and forcibly push the meter down to remo the
top tab. The top tab is attached to the service line.
Once the tab is loose, remove the meter by continuing
to pull the meter down and out of the bottom tabs.
Remember that there is still electricity in the
meter box at the top tabs. Position a rescuer at the
box to keep people away and prevent an accidental
If the meter is humming and the meter wheel is
turning very rapidly, there is a serious problem.
Avoid a meter in this situation and do not attempt
to pull the meter. Any attempt at pulling the meter
can result in an explosion of the meter and injury
to the rescuer.
Cutting the Drip Loop
An emergency method for disconnecting residen-
tial electricity is to cut the drip loop. Again, do this
procedure only in life-threatening situations and never
for commercial services. When cutting the drip loop,
follow tnese suggested precautions: (1) wear full pro-
tective clothing; (2) cut only one wire at a time; and
(3) cut the wire from the attachment to the structure
and the weatherhead. If the service lines are cut
before the building lines, energized lines fall to the
ground, endangering the entire rescue operation.
Usually, three wires will be found entering the
structure. Use only approved line cutters to make
the cuts. Cut the top wire first, then the bottom
line. Bend both wires away from the residence. The
center wire, or the bare wire, is usually the neutral
wire. Cut the neutral wire last and bend it toward
Responding to an Emergency Involving
When approaching an accident scene, the incident
commander of the first responding unit should at-
tempt to identify any potential hazards. If an elec-
trical line is downed or damaged, the incident
commander should establish a hazard zone and com-
municate this to all responding units.
The hazard zone is the distance to the two ad-
joining utility poles on both sides of the accident.
This zone should be secured and no persons should
be permitted inside. This area must be secured as
the hazard zona because an energized line can move
in a circular radius equal to the distance between
the two poles.
Once the hazard zone has been identified and
secured, contact the power company to disconnect
the power completely.
Responding to a Motor Vehicle Accident
When a motor vehicle is in an accident that in-
volves a downed electrical wire, the occupants of the
vehicle may be protected by the rubber tires. Tell
RESCUE OPERATIONS INVOLVING ELECTRICITY
the iccupants to remain calm and to stay in the
vehicie. If an occupant attempts to leave the vehicle
and comes in contact with any metal on the vehicle
and the ground simultaneously, electrical shock is
If the occupant panics and attempts to get out of
the vehicle, the rescuer may have to assist. Direct
the occupant to open the door as wide as possible,
stand with both feet on the rocker panels, and jump
as far as possible awuy from the vehicle, keeping
the arms at the side of the body.
If the occupant's injuries are life-threatening, at-
tempt to remove the wire; however, only experienced
personnel should attempt this type of rescue. Main-
tain the hazard zone until all electrical wires are
controlled. All rescue personnel must be in full
protective clothing, wearing lineperson's gloves and
protectors to perform any of these rescue procedures.
Moving an Energized Wire
To move an electrical wire, approach the wire from
each side. The person with the rope-weight tool
should approach from the side opposite to where
the wire is to be moved. Find the center of the rope
and throw one weight under the wire. This will
allow the rope to be pulled back if it is necessary
to rethrow it. Then throw the other end over the
wire. The rescuer on the other side should pick up
the weights with the hot-stick and pull the rope and
the wire out of the way. It may be necessary to use
two rope-weight tools, one from each side of the
electrical wire, to manipulate the wire to the desired
location. Once the wire is removed, stabilize the wire
and assign a person to watch the wire and keep
people at a safe distance until the wire is under
Removing a Victim From Contact With a
When a person is found in contact with an en-
ergized wire, make every attempt to de-energize the
power source. If this is not possible, and the wire
is not wrapped around the victim, remove the wire
by using the hot-stick to push or pull the wire from
If a hot-stick is unavailable, use the rope-weight
tool to ioop around some part of the victim's body
to drag the victim from the wire. Use extreme caution
when moving a victim so as to not cause further
body injury or pull the wire toward rescue personnel.
Removing a Victim from a Utility Pole
Call a rescue unit to remove an injured or ill
lineperson from the top of a pole. The victim may
have been injured on the pole or suffered an electrical
shock, or may be experiencing a medical problem,
such as a heart attack or diabetic reaction.
Upon arrival, establish and maintain a hazard
zone. Then determine if the lines on the poles are
electric lines. Many poles contain only utility lines
such as TV cable and telephone lines, and do not
present the threat of electric shock to the rescuer.
If the pole does not contain electric lines, proceed
with the rescue. If electric lines are connected to
the pole, de-energize all wires before attempting any
rescue. If the power company is on the scene, let
the power company personnel de-energize the lines.
If the power company representatives are not on the
scene, notify the company. At no time should un-
trained personnel attempt to de-energize wires. Once
the power is cut off, the power company must main-
tain these lines until the rescue is completed to
assure that there is no accidental energization of the
Most rescue personnel are not trained in the use
of climbing gear. If the pole is accessible, the victim
can be removed using an aerial apparatus. If an
aerial is unavailable or inaccessible* raise a ground
ladder above the victim. Climb the ladder and assess
the victim. Place a lifeline and single pulley above
the victim. If a body harness is available, attach it
to the victim with the running end of the lifeline
attached with a bowline.
If a body harness is unavailable, use a line rescue
harness. Tie the harness by passing the running end
of the lifeline through the victim's legs from back
to front and around one leg (see Figure 36). Then
bring the rope back under the standing part around
the other leg (see Figure 37). Bring the end between
the legs from front to back and tie it to the standing
rope with a bowline and safety (see Figure 38). Next,
place a half hitch in the standing rope, throw it over
the victim's head and place it under the arms. Place
a bight in the standing rope under the half hitch
(see Figure 39). Next, place a bight in the standing
part and pass it through the first bight. Pass the
running end through the second bight and draw it
tight (see Figure 40). Place a "safety knot" at this
point. Finally, attach a guy line to the victim.
Raise the victim and remove the victim's lifebelt
and climbing equipment. The victim can now be
BEST COPY AVAILABLE £S
RESCUE OPERATIONS INVOLVING ELECTRICITY
lowered to the ground using the guy line to keep
the victim away from the pole.
Handling Static Electricity
Another form of electricity is static electricity
formed by the friction of rubbing two different sub-
tances together. It may be impossible to prevent
tic electricity from forming but the rescuer must
\ware of it.
i itic electricity and sparks caused by friction can
serv as ignition sources at rescue scenes. In the
prest ce of flammable liquids, a spark can be
When performing a rescue operation in the pres-
ence of a flammable liquid, ground the vehicle and/
or container. To do this, drive a grounding rod into
the ground approximately 10' from the vehicle. At-
tach a cable to the rod and then to the vehicle with
a grounding clamp. Form a simple grounding clamp
by welding a bolt to a pair of vice grips and attaching
a wing nut (see Figure 41).
voltages can be conducted through water. If fire
streams are used in the rescue operation, they should
be used in fog streams. Never aim a straight stream
at energized wires or equipment.
Handle rescue operations involving electricity with
extreme caution. Be aware of local protocol in all
rescue operations and electrical emergencies. The
simplest electrical rescue procedure is to wait for
assistance from the electric company when possible.
In life-threatening situations, a rescue attempt or
an attempt by rescuers to de-energize the power may
be necessary. These procedures should be attempted
with extreme caution by trained personnel using safe
equipment. If these specifications are not available,
the only alternative is to wait for the electric company.
Figure 41. Grounding Clamp
Any time a metal ladder or piece of equipment is
used in the rescue operation, it must be grounded
to the tank containing the flammable liquid, also
with grounding cables. Have various lengths of
grounding cables with spring clamps on both ends
readily available for such use.
Remember that water is a conductor of electricity.
Keep this in mind during a rescue operation at the
scene of a fire or during a rain storm.
Always avoid standing in puddles of water. High
* Oxygen and acetylene cylinders
* Safe handling of the cylinders
* Principles of attaching the cylinders to the tanks
* Principles of operating the pressure regulators
* Cutting with the torch
* Safety concerns
* Exothermic cutting unit
* Safe operating procedures for exothermic cutting
* Cutting with the exothermic unit
* Precautions when using the exothermic cutting unit
On many occasions, rescue personnel are called in
to extricate victims trapped by metal. Though it has
been used primarily for cutting metal in industrial
applications, the oxy-acetylene cutting torch can be
used in rescue operations. Due to the fire hazard
and the potential of further harming a victim,
it is important for any rescuer using a torch
to be familiar with its correct use and its
limitations, and to know how to properly care
for it Safety must be stressed to protect the
rescue personnel as well as the victim.
The oxyacetylene cutting torch can be used for
cutting steel, wrought iron, and other ferrous metals.
The equipment used must be portable and of a type
Figure 42. The Basic System
will act efficiently and economically. Manufacturing
companies will offer assistance in the selection of
proper equipment. They will also supply the repair
parts and check the equipment when necessary. Only
trained technicians should repair this equipment.
Follow equipment manufacturer's instructions when
using the pressure regulators and the welding and
The cutting torch unit includes the following: two
separate cylinders, one oxygen and one acetylene;
two 25', 1/4" hoses; two pressure-reducing regulators;
a cutting torch with a 90° head (see Figure 42); a
friction lighter; a five-way wrench; a tip cleaner; one
pair of leather gloves; and goggles.
OXYGEN AND ACETYLENE
The Oxygen Cylinder
Commercial oxygen used for the cutting torch is
stored in steel cylinders. The manufacture of all
commercial oxygen cylinders is controlled by the
United States Department of Transportation. The
cylinders are made of seamless steel with a frangible
(bursting) disk in the valve at the top. This disk
allows the gas to escape at a safe rate if the cylinder
is subjected to a dangerously high temperature. Ox-
ygen gas is pumped into the steel cylinders to a
pressure of about 1800-2200 pounds to the square
inch. Cylinders are made in various sizes, the two
most common having capacities of 110 and 220 cubic
feet of gas.
The shut-off valves, mounted on the tops of the
cylinders are of special design because of the ex-
tremely high pressure to which they are subjected.
The valve stem has a right-hand thread, and when
opened should be turned as far as possible. This
prevents leakage by causing the valve to seat in the
top of the valve body. Some manufacturers of weld-
ing regulators provide a small storage space for extra
valve seats in the center of the cross bars.
Commercial oxygen is usually obtained from air,
It \ r odorless, harmless to breathe, and non-flam-
mable; however, it should never be used as a sub-
stitute for air. Oxygen supports and vigorously
accelerates the burning of combustible materials;
therefore, it is important to keep oil, grease, and
other combustible materials away from the oxygen
and oxygen equipment.
The Acetylene Cylinder
Acetylene gas is stored in special cylinders. The
manufacture of these cylinders is controlled by the
United States Department of Transportation. Unlike
oxygen cylinders, which have no liquid or solid ma-
terial inside, acetylene cylinders are filled with a
porous material that is saturated with a liquid sol-
vent called acetone,
Acetone has the ability to dissolve acetylene gas
under pressure. The result is that when 220 cubic
feet of acetylene are pumped into a cylinder of
approximately the same size as the one used for
oxygen, the pressure is 250 pounds to the square
inch. This greatly increases the need for safe hand-
ling when transporting compressed acetylene. The
acetone remains in the cylinder as the acetylene is
allowed to escape during welding or cutting, and is
used repeatedly with practically no loss. Fusible plugs
in both the bottom and the top of each cylinder
provide an additional safety factor.
Acetylene cylinder valves are not subjected to as
much pressure as oxygen valves. The packing used
in the valves is ample to prevent leakage, The valve
stem has right-handed threads and should be opened
only one and one-half turns to allow for rapid shut-
off in case of an emergency. The valves are turned
on with a T-wrench or hand wheel (see Figure 43).
The T-wrench must be left on the valve until the
cutting operation is concluded.
USE THE SPECIAL T-WRENCH TO OPEN
ACETYLENE CYLINDER VALVES NOT
MORE THAN 1-1/2 TURNS .
Figure 411 T- Wrench
Handling of Cylinders
Use only cylinders that bear Interstate Commerce
Commission (ICC) or United States Department of
Transportation (DOT) markings and that are clearly
labeled Oxygen, Acetylene, or Propane. If a cylinder
is not clearly labeled, return it unused to the sup-
plier. It is illegal to tamper with cylinder markings
or stampings, The following guidelines must be
• Always handle cylinders in an upright
and secured position.
• Never lay an acetylene cylinder on its
• Never lay a liquid oxygen cylinder on its
• Never use any cylinder, full or empty, as
a roller or support.
Before moving or storing any cylinders, close the
cylinder valves, remove the pressure-reducing reg-
ulators, and screw on the protective caps, When
lifting single cylinders, never lift by the protective
cap alone. Never use slings or electromagnets for
lifting cylinders. Use hand trucks or racks for moving
Never handle oxygen cylinders on the same plat-
form with oil, or place them in a position where oil
or grease from overhead cranes or belts is likely to
ASSEMBLING THE TORCH
Attaching Cylinders to Tanks
Before attaching a fresh cylinder of gas to the
cutting outfit, open the valve of each cylinder one-
quarter turn and shut off immediately. This allows
a small amount of gas to escape from the cylinder.
The escaping gas blows out any dust particles that
may have lodged in the valves during shipment This
is called "cracking" the valve (see Figure 44). During
this procedure, oxygen will not burn but acetylene
will Be sure there is no open flame nearby when
the acetylene valve is opened. All fittings must be
perfectly clean before being attached to a cylinder.
Be sure all regulators are in the "off" or "loose"
position before turning the gas on at the cylinder.
Figure 44. Cracking a Cylinder Valve
When turning the gas off at the cylinder, make
certain the valves are completely closed. Then, open
the two torch valve3 to "bleed off 1 any gas remaining
in the hose. The pressure regulators will read zero.
Attaching and Operating Pressure
The rubber hoses from the torch fasten to two
pressure regulators, one regulating the pressure of
the acetylene gas in the acetylene hose, and one
regulating the pressure of the oxygen gas in the
oxygen hose. It is necessary to keep the pressures
of the two welding gases constant at all time*,. Re-
member, the pressure of gases in the cylinders de-
creases constantly while the torch is in use (see
Turn the crossbar or handle of either pressure
regulator to obtain the desired operating pressure.
Figure 45. Pressure-reducing Regulator
Both oxygen and acetylene regulators have a crossbar
with right-handed threads. The usual pressure ratio
is five pounds of acetylene to thirty pounds of ox-
ygen. The pressure is shown on the pressure gauge
of the regulator. To increase the operating pressure,
turn the crossbar clockwise.
Pressure regulators connect directly to the oxygen
and acetylene cylinders; a second pressure gauge is
located on each regulator to indicate the gas pres-
sures within the cylinders.
If a torch acts up, it is quite possible that the
regulators are at fault. Routinely following two pro-
cedures will prolong the life of regulators. First,
always screw the crossbars out until they are loose
before opening the cylinder valves located on the
tops of the oxygen and acetylene cylinders. This
prevents the suddenly released pressure from ov-
erloading and damaging the delicate valve mecha-
nism inside the regulator. Second, never use oii or
grease near a gas-welding outfit, or on any of the
parts of the apparatus itself. Oxygen under pressure
will occasionally cause oil to ignite if conditions are
right. Oxygen alone does not burn, but it does ac-
celerate the burning of combustible materials.
Connecting Gas Supplies tc the Torches
Use only hose and connections specifically made
for oxygen-fuel welding and cutting. Oxygen hoses
are usually green, and acetylene hoses are red or
black, Never interchange them, All connections must
be made dry. Do not use pipe-fitting compounds,
thread lubricants, oil, or grease. The connections to
the regulator and torch must be made wrench -tight
(not merely hand-tight) to ensure a leak-free con-
nection (see Figure 46). The oxygen hoses use right-
GREEN OXYGEN HOSE
Figure 46. Hose Connections
handed thread connections and the acetylene hoses
use left-handed, grooved thread connections (see Fig-
TORCH OXYGEN VALVH
green Oxygen hose
RED FUEL-GAS HOSE
Figure 47. Hoses Used for the Cutting Torch
Assembling the Cutting Torch and Hose
The cutting torch consists of a handle and a torch
body. To one end, any one of the various cutting
tips, which range in size from 0 to 8, can be attached
(see Figure 48). On the opposite end are two valves
that control the rate of flow of oxygen gas and
acetylene gas into the torch. The rubber hoses sup-
plying the two gases are attached to these valves.
Always use an open-end wrench to tighten torch
parts and hose connections; never use pliers. It is
important to keep the packing nuts fairly tight on
the torch valves so that the valve setting does not
change while the torch is in use. Valves that turn
easily can accidentally be thrown out of adjustment
when they brush against something.
Cutting with the Torch
All types of cutting torches operate on tha same
principle and are provided with tips of various sizes
for cutting metals of different thickneuses.
In contrast to the welding tech, whic i has a imigle
orifice at the tip, the cutting torch rive or more
orifices. The center orifice 's surrounded by four or
more orifices for the oxyacetylene preheating flames.
The preheating flames are adjusted independently
of the oxygen-cutting valve and, once adjusted, keep
burning steadily, regardless of whether the oxygen-
cutting valve is open or closed.
The oxygen cutting torch can successfully be used
on any kind of steel or wrought iron, but not on
cast iron, which is more difficult to cut.
First, select a cutting tip of suitable size for the
thickness of metal to be cut. A No. 66 drill is suitable
for cutting steel 1/4" thick; use a No. 52 drill to cut
steel 1" thick, and a No. 48 drill to cut steel 3"
thick. The larger the wire gauge drill-size number,
the smaller the orifice used.
It is important to keep the orifice clean and round.
Use tip cleaners of the correct size to clean the
orifice. Slag sticking to the end of the tip can be
loosened with a pocket knife without damaging the
Check the torch, valves, and connections for leaks
before lighting the torch. Do this by applying a soap
solution and watching for air bubbles. Once the
apparatus has been tested for leaks, adjust the acet-
ylene hose pressure for cutting.
The oxygen operating pressure required depends
upon the tip used and the thickness of the r .eel
being cut. It will vary from 10 to 150 pounds. Charts
supplied with torches indicate oxygen and acetylene
pressure to be used for each tip and to cut each
thickness of metal. Pressures vary with different
Open the oxygen valve on the torch body far
enough to give full oxygen pressure through the torch
for cutting; the torch is now ready to light. Always
use a friction lighter to light a cutting torch. Do not
use a match or a cigarette lighter (see Figure 49).
d/tt/ng Oxygen Valve- —
Figure 48. The Cutting Torch
H Mixed Gases
Figure 49. Friction Lighter
Next, adjust the preheating flames to neutral and
try the cutting valve to see that full oxygen pressure
is feeding through to the oxygen orifice in the tip.
If the flames do not burn properly, shut the unit
off and reclean the tip (see Figure 50).
Figure 50. Tip Cleaner
With the luminous preheating cones of the cutting
tip just touching the steel to be cut, heat the edge
or other point where the cut is to begin. Be sure to
have the torch well-supported and pointed at the
work. When the steel begins to melt, begin to cut
by slowly pressing down on the cutting oxygen-valve
During the cut, keep the tip of the torch at a
conb^ant distance from the work. This will va.y from
1/16" to 3/16" depending on the thickness of the
metal. Do not change this gap as the torch is moved
along the cutting \v . Keep the bottom of the kerf
or cut a little ahead of the top.
It is important to move the torch at a uniform
speed, and at a speed slow enough to allow the
oxygen to cut all the way through the metal. When
turning off the gas at the cutting torch, turn
off the acetylene cylinder first*
Backfires and Flashbacks
Improper operation of the torch may cause the
flame to go out with a loud snap or pop, which is
called a backfire. Investigate any such occurrence to
determine the cause before relighting the torch. A
backfire may be caused by touching the tip against
the work, by overheating the tip, by a loose tip or
head, or by dirt on the seat. Also, incorrect gas
pressure can cause a backfire. Always use gas pres-
sures recommended by the manufacturer. A flame
that has backfired can be relighted at once provided
there are no serious problems.
A flashback occurs wheii the flame burns back
inside the torch, usually with a shrill hissing or
squealing. If this happens, close the torch oxygen
valve immediately, then close the fuel-gas valve.
Closing the torch oxygen valve, which controls the
flame, stops the flashback at once. Then, close the
fuel-gas valve and tllow the torch to cool before
relighting. Also, blow oxygen through the tip for a
few second to clear out any soot that may have
When using a cutting torch, blow oxygen through
the preheating and cutting orifices before relighting.
Remember, when a flashback occurs, it indicates
that something is radically wrong either with the
torch or with the way it is being operated.
Always wear the goggles supplied by the manu-
facturer when using cutting torches. The goggles
must fit snugly so they will not slip when being
worn (see Figure 51).
Figure 51. Protective Goggles
Guidelines for Handling Oxy-Acetyiene
1. Do not compress acetylene or use it in <x free
state at pressures higher that 15 psi.
2. Use no oil on the cutting equipment or the
3. Crack the cylinder valves before attaching the
4. Release the adjusting screws on both regula-
tors before opening the cylinder valves.
5. Stand to the side of the regulator when open-
ing the cylinder valves.
6. Open the cylinder valves slowly.
7. Purge oxygen and acetylene gas hoses indi-
vidually so oxygen and acetylene are not mixed
in the hose lines before lighting the torch.
8. Light fuel-gas before opening oxygen valve on
9. Do not use oxygen as a substitute for air.
10. Take caution to protect hose from being cut
by glass, sharp metal, or hot, molten metal.
11. Always wear proper protective clothing,
12. Check the pressure of tanks, and the operation
of the pressure regulators and the torch
13. Read and follow manufacturer's instructions
at all times.
Using a Torch to Extricate a Victim
Upon arrival at the scene, check the area for spilled
fuels or gas fumes. No smoking can be permitted at
the scene. Exercise care when using flares.
During the extrication of victims, the fire de-
partment must stand by with a charged hose line
in case of fire. Also have dry chemical or carbon
dioxide extinguishers ready for use. If it is necessary
to cut metal near the victim, cover the victim with
a fire-resistant or wet blanket. Rescuers must be
continually aware of the potential fire hazards.
A relatively new tool to use in place of the oxy-
acetylene cutting torch is the exothermic cutting
unit. Unlike other cutting equipment, the exothermic
cutting system can cut, burn, melt, or vaporize a
metallic, nonmetallic, or composite material.
In exothermic cutting, oxygen and a high-carbon
steel rod are ignited to produce temperatures in
excess of 10,000°F. The oxygen is delivered in a
controlled amount through hollow coils in the center
of the carbon steel rod (see Figure 52). The com-
bination of the correct amount of oxygen with the
carbon steel and an electrical spark causes the carbon
Figure 52. Exothermic Torch
rod to ignite and burn at the high temperatures
needed for the exothermic cutting process.
The exothermic cutting unit, commonly called a
slice torch, is available as a portable unit. It includes
an oxygen cylinder with an oxygen regulator, a 12-
volt battery, a striker assembly, a pistol grip with
a heat shield, an oxygen control handle for attaching
the rods, extra rods, and a carrying case.
Exothermic cutting has the advantage over oxy-
acetylene cutting of being able to cut a wider range
of materials, i.e., stainless steel, concrete, or glass.
An exothermic cutting unit also cuts faster than a
small portable oxyacetylene unit, especially when
thicker materials are involved. In exothermic cutting,
rescuers do not have to contend with the unstable
flammable gas, acetylene. A major advantage of ex-
othermic cutting is that using it takes less experience
and skill than using an oxyacetylene unit. This is
important in the rescue service, since personnel do
not use cutting torches daily. Thus, rescuers can
learn to use the slice torch more quickly, There is
less technical information (such as gauge settings)
Exothermic cutting does produce a larger amount
of sparks, and often pools of molten metal. This
situation can be controlled by applying a spray of
water directly on the torch. This cannot be done
when using the oxyacetylene torch.
As with any cutting tool, there are inherent haz-
ards in using the slice torch. Combining oxygen and
the carbon rod produces a very high temperature.
Rescuers must be familiar with the operator's manual
and be aware of all the warnings and necessary
precautions. Rescuers should also be familiar with
all the parts and their assembly and use. It is im-
portant that the user have actual hands-on training
and some experience before using exothermic equip-
ment. The major safety hazard in using the equip-
ment is lack of hands-on experience.
Safe Operating Procedures for
In using the slice torch, the following safety pro-
cedures must be followed.
1. Never permit oil or grease to come in contact
with oxygen cylinders, valves, regulators, the
hose, or fittings. Do not handle oxygen cyl-
inders, valves, or regulators with oily hands
or oily gloves, since oxygen under pressure
combines with oil and grease with explosive
2. Never use oxygen near flammable materials,
especially grease, oil, or any substance likely
to cause or accelerate fire. Oxygen itself is not
flammable, but does support and accelerate
3. Do not store oxygen and flammable gas cyl-
inders together. They must be stored sepa-
rately and in a defined storage area that is
dry, cool, well-ventilated, and fire-resistant.
Keep cylinders protected from an excessive
rise in temperature by storing them away from
sources of heat, including direct sunlight. Cyl-
inders must be stored in an upright position.
4. Always refer to oxygen as "oxygen" and not
5. Never use oxygen from cylinders or a piping
system unless a suitable regulator is attached
to the cylinder valve.
6. Never tamper with or attempt to repair oxygen
cylinder valves or regulators.
7. Nev°r use oxygen regulators, hoses, or other
pieces of apparatus with any gases other than
those for which they were intended.
8. Open the oxygen cylinder valve slowly, and
then fully when in use.
9. Never enrich the atmosphere or closed areas
10. Never use oxygen to cool the work or the
11. Do not let the arc or cutting flame come into
contact ■ ith cylinders, cylinder safety devices,
valves, regulators, or hoses. Fire or explosion
could result from accidental flame contact with
12. Inspect the oxygen regulator for evidence of
damage or contamination. If theie is evidence
of physical damage or foreign material inside
the regulator, return it to the manufacturer
Do not attempt field repairs or mod-
ifications of any oxygen regulator.
18. Do not cut in combustible, flammable, or ex-
14. Always wear full protective fire-fighting equip-
ment, including dry gloves and a hood, and
eye protection with side shields. All rescuers
assisting in procedures must wear complete
protective equipment, including eye protection.
15. Protect the victim during the cutting with a
noncombustible covering of some kind, (a
screen and blanket).
16. Ventilate the area; the fumes and gases pro-
duced while using a cutting torch can he haz-
ardous to the health. Do not breathe the gases
17. Always have charged hose lines in place. Also
have portable dry powder extinguishers nearby.
18. Never cut any container that has held
a flammable material; this could cause
a violent explosion.
19. Use special caution when cutting in a confined
The exothermic unit is usually used around heavy
equipment, such as mining, construction, or farm
equipment. This equipment is so heavily constructed
that it resists bending and distortion by hydraulic
and air rescue equipment. It must be cut. Never cut
into any pressurized tanks or cylinders, such as the
hydraulic cylinders often found on heavy equipment.
The torch is often used to cut steel beams, con-
crete, and re-bar in a building-collapse rescue op-
eration. Be sure to know what the object being cut
will do after the cut is completed. Have control of
all pieces. Remember, dealing with objects of tre-
mendous weight and possible unseen stresses and
pressures presents a unique situation.
Never cut into any tank or cylinder that contains
or has contained a flammable substance. Never use
the torch in a flammable or explosive atmosphere.
Always have a charged hose-line in position, as well
as fire extinguishers. A spray of water can be directed
on the cutting rod while cutting in emergency sit-
uations; however, this creates steam, making visi-
Operators should always wear proper eye protec-
tion. Remember to provide adequate protection to
any victim. Cutting creates a large amount of sparks
and molten metal.
Cutting With the Exothermic Cutting Unit
The following step-by-step procedure is used to
sot up and operate the exothermic cutting torch.
Always follow the guidelines from the operator's
manual provided by the manufacturer for the specific
type of equipment used.
Preparing the Unit for Cutting
L Remove the torch handle from the carrying case
and loosen but DO NOT REMOVE the collet-
2. Insert the cutting rod into the hole in the collet-
nut assembly. Make sure the rod is firmly seated
against the washer inside the torch. This may
require tapping the rod against a hard surface.
3. Remove the striker plate and cable from the
case and prepare to use.
4. Turn the oxygen regulator on slowly; when the
high-pressure gauge indicates maximum pres-
sure, open the cylinder valve fully.
5. With the torch valve closed, adjust the pressure
regulator to approximately 80 psi. The torch is
now ready for lighting.
Lighting the Torch
1. First, check to see if oxygen is flowing through
the rod by squeezing the handle completely
closed for approximately two seconds. If flow
is not obvious from the end of the rod or if
flow is detected around the collet nut, remove
the rod and replace it.
2. Hold the striker in one hand and the torch in
3. Start the oxygen flow by squeezing the oxygen
lever on the handle. (Squeeze handle fully.)
4. Place the rod against the exposed serrated metal
on the striker at a 45° angle, and rock it back
5. When the rod ignites, immediately remove the
rod from the striker. (Failure to do so results
in the striker being cut.)
Rods often go out after the initial lighting. If this
happens, repeat the above steps. If the rod goes out
repeatedly, use another rod. CAUTION: The rod
end may be hot. Also, a rod can ignite on any hot
surface. To extinguish the rod, simply stop
oxygen flow by releasing the oxygen lever.
Cutting With the Torch Unit
CAUTION: The intense cutting flame of the ex-
othermic torch creates a large spray of molten cut
1. If possible, start a cut on an exposed edge of
the material. If this cannot be done, try piercing
the material. (See "Piercing a Surface" in this
2. Be sure the cutting rod is ignited before be-
ginning the actual cut. Be sure hoses and wires
are clear of the cutting area.
3. Hold the rod at an angle to the piece being
cut. As a rule, the thinner the metal, the less
the angle. For example, when cutting a sheet
1/8" or thiner, use a 15° angle; up to 1" thick
steel, use a 70° angle. Metals 1" thick or thicker
require the use of a sawing-type motion, as well
as the 70° angle.
4. Cut by pulling the torch towards the body.
Support the rod with a gloved hand, but never
allow the burning end to come into contact with
the hand. Pull the rod slowly enough to cut
completely through the material in a smooth
motion. Pulling it too quickly does not allow
for a complete cut through.
Aluminum produces one of the most violent
reactions to the high temperature. Because it
melts quickly, aluminum will cut faster and
produce more sparks than any other material.
All thicknesses of aluminum require using a 70°
angle and extra precaution.
The angle of the cut may need to be adjusted
from job to job. Use the following chart as a
guide (see Figure 53).
5. Remember, for successful cutting the end of
the cutting rod should lightly contact the piece
being cut. Holding the rod as little as 1/4" to
1/2" away results in little or no cutting. Since
the rod is consumed during cutting, the operator
must constantly shove in on the torch to keep
the rod in direct contact.
6, Stop cutting when the rod becomes shorter than
3", and replace the rod.
7. The proper procedure for stopping the cutting
process is to first pull away from the cut, and
then release the oxygen. Releasing the oxygen
while still in the cut often results in plugging
the oxygen outlet, thus making relighting of a
partially- used rod impossible.
1/8" or thin sheet 15° Drag Angle
3/16" to 1/2" plate 45° Drag Angle
1/2" or thicker 70° Drag Angle in
conjunction with an in and out
sawing motion on thicknesses over 1"
From thin sheets to 3/8" thick
20° Drag Angle
All thicknesses use 70° Drag Angle
— — >
Figure 53. Cutting Angles
NOTE: Releasing the oxygen lever will stop the
burning of the rod.
Loss of Cutting Flame
Sometimes the flame may be extinguished while
cutting. To restart the torch, follow the standard
ignition procedures. If the cutting rod continues to
go out, use the following procedure:
1. Slow the cutting speed. Moving the torch too
fast may create an incomplete cut, which can
result in blowing ou the flame.
2. Check the oxygen regulator for the correct ox-
3. Check the tank for low oxygen.
4. Check the angle of the rod to the piece being
5. Check the oxygen path in the rod to be sure
it is not blocked. If it is, replace the cutting
rod with a new one.
Piercing a Surface
The slice torch can be used to cut a hole through
solid materials when there is no exposed edge to
start an initial cut. This procedure is called piercing.
CAUTION: Piercing a surface produces a violent
reaction and creates the most dangerous conditions
for using the torch. Piercing should be done only
when absolutely necessary. Maximum protection must
be provided for the operator, nearby personnel, and
the surrounding area. A flashback of sparks and
molten material does happen. Piercing should be
done only by someone experienced in cutting with
Use the following procedure to pierce a surface:
1. Be aware of what material is behind the pierced
2. Hold the torch at arm's length.
3. Bring the rod in at a 90° angle, that is, per-
pendicular to the pierce point.
4. Hold the end of the burning rod about 1/2"
from the pierce-point and preheat the area for
a few seconds. Then, slowly push the cutting
rod into place until a burn-through is achieved.
This is signalled by a large amount of blowback.
5. To prevent the cutting rod from getting stuck
inside the pierced hole, slowly swirl the cutting
rod as it enters the pierce hole.
6. If possible, remove the cutting rod from the
pierce point before releasing the oxygen lever.
The use ot cutting tools in rescue operations is
often necessary to free trapped victims. Rescuers
must be knowledgeable in the setup and operation
of the oxyacetylene torch and exothermic unit. Due
to the possibility of a fire being started, special
precautions are required when using these tools.
Training, practice, and experience are essential to
safe operations in all cutting procedures.