Oberlin Fire Department to Receive New Extrication Tools


Ella Moxley

The Oberlin Fire Department will receive a new set of emergency crash extrication tools.

Oberlin City Council unanimously approved an ordinance on Feb. 7, directing the Oberlin City Manager to purchase $50,900.02 worth of new extrication tools and hydraulic door openers for the Oberlin Fire Department. The new tools will replace the department’s outdated crash response tools and improve OFD’s response capability.

OFD requires two sets of hydraulic rescue tools which the department uses during emergencies to open car doors, remove car roofs, and lift cars. The department recently replaced one of these sets in 2018 and has benefitted from this replacement. The department is now replacing the older set of tools, which it purchased in 1998, as it still faces challenges that require the replacement of this set as well. According to Oberlin Fire Chief Robert Hanmer, the department has had to delay its responses in some situations because it needed to wait for the truck with the newer set of tools.

Although the older tools still worked, they were outdated, which created difficulties for the department.

According to Hanmer, Oberlin firefighters struggle with cutting through newer, higher-strength metals in cars. Additionally, the older tools are attached to hoses, limiting firefighters’ mobility. The new, battery-powered, detached tools will alleviate these problems by offering firefighters portability and ease in cutting through strong metals.

“Over time, we just need to upgrade the tools and make sure that we’ve got the tools available that are capable of cutting the new cars that are out on the streets,” Hanmer said.

In addition to new extrication tools, the department will also receive hydraulic door openers. The department currently uses pry bars and sledgehammers to open doors and gain access to buildings. The new tools will increase the department’s efficiency and ease in opening doors during emergencies.

“With the new tools we have, it’s real simple to just slide it in, twist the handle, and it pops the door open for us,” Hanmer said. “So we’re hoping that we don’t have to use those, but if we do, it will be less strenuous for our guys, and a lot more efficient and faster.”

When asked about her decision to vote in favor of the ordinance approving the purchase of these tools, Oberlin City Councilmember Elizabeth Meadows said that equipping OFD with new tools puts the department in the best position possible to save lives in emergencies.

“[OFD members] don’t know what to expect when they show up at an accident scene,” she said. “They hope that they have all the tools necessary to deal with this so that there is no delay in their ability to deal with whatever they’re confronting.”

Both Hanmer and Meadows stated that when OFD has more efficient tools, the department can better respond to emergencies and serve the Oberlin community.

The department has not yet received the new tools, but according to Hanmer, the department anticipates their arrival within the next couple of weeks.