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Letter to the Editor: November 2008


We read with some interest John Hanley’s article, Bulletproof, Armoured Brinks vehicle makes for challenging extrication, in your June 2008 issue. Our platoon had an opportunity  to extricate Brinks personnel under similar circumstances.

November 17, 2008
By Fire Fighting in Canada

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To the editor:

We read with some interest John Hanley’s article, Bulletproof, Armoured Brinks vehicle makes for challenging extrication, in your June 2008 issue. Our platoon had an opportunity  to extricate Brinks personnel under similar circumstances.

At 0252 on Aug. 2, engine 1 was paged out for an MVA with one vehicle trapped underneath another. On arrival, we found a Brinks armoured truck laying on the driver’s side, approximately 50 metres from a demolished S10 pick-up.

Size-up showed we had a seriously injured driver trapped in the S10 pick-up and three slightly injured Brinks employees trapped in their vehicle.

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Engine 1, our only career engine, was staffed with three crew; me (a 26-year veteran), and two young firefighters on shift – Wade Meeres and Kevin Geddert. Chilliwack’s paid, on-call firefighters were paged immediately and Rescue 1 was on scene within 10 minutes of E-1. Meeres and Geddert freed the pick-up driver and he was taken to hospital.

The Brinks truck was more of a challenge. The driver was standing in the cab and able answer questions; he was unable to get out as the passenger door was too heavy. Unfortunately, once crews assisted him out of the cab, the door was allowed to close and its self-locking feature activated. The guard had left the keys for accessing the cargo compartment in the cab. Additionally, one of the two guards in the cargo area had opened a sliding partition gate to gain access to a larger area in the rear, effectively sealing all cargo doors. The internal sliding gate has to be closed before the cargo doors can be opened. Because the vehicle was on its side, the weight of the sliding gate made it impossible for the guards to slide it up to the closed position.

In our incident, the guards also thought the glass might be the best way to access the cab. However, after some attempts at the glass and with the additional information about the internal slider, we felt the rear doors were our best bet.

Size up also showed that the cargo body was twisted. Using a ratchet and socket set, the hinge pins were removed on the upper door at the rear. Three firefighters on the “roof” using pry bars and a Hurst combi tool opened the rear door on the hinge side about six inches. The idea was to flap the doors using the lower set of hinges as the pivot point. The heavier Hurst spreaders were hooked into the manifold and, using the two tools together, the doors popped open. The two guards were taken by BC Ambulance to hospital for minor injuries.

Knowledge gained form this incident mirrors the Toronto incident; vents and gun ports aided in getting information from the trapped guards; and, realizing that as a result of the MVA the vehicle’s doors may be compromised, having a plan B – for us, the hinge removal method – worked OK.

– Asst. Chief Mark Collins, Chilliwack Fire Department


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