Old Jaws can’t handle today’s cars

Jaws of Life are used for breaking open wrecked cars.

Jaws of Life are used for breaking open wrecked cars.

The Ridgefield Fire Department’s hydraulic rescue tools, better known as the Jaws of Life, have become obsolete and require the department to replace them over the next two years.

The new tools make up $39,980 of this year’s $3.6-million capital budget.

“It’s really important we replace these tools for two reasons — the age of the equipment and the steel technology used in modern cars,” said fire Chief Heather Burford. “We have to keep up with new cars or otherwise we won’t be able to do our job.”

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the current Jaws of Life can’t cut through the steel bodies of today’s automobiles, which are designed to be stronger than cars made when the Jaws of Life were purchased.

“We need a more powerful tool that is designed to remove the top of a car, or the side of a car, during an accident,” Mr. Marconi said. “Cars have much stronger composition, which makes rescue during a car accident much more difficult.”

Chief Burford said it will be a two-year replacement program and that the Fire Department will display the new Jaws of Life to the public in mid-April to demonstrate the difference in performance.

“We will be testing our tools versus the new tools, and I think that will give everyone an idea as to why we are doing this,” she said.

Hurst Performance Inc. invented the Jaws of Life and trademarked the line of tools in 1963.

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  • rdg-oldtimer

    I hope the demo will be on a Saturday. Being a born skeptic, I know that the FD and PD love their gadgets. I would need to know how many times these tools have been used since their purchase. That would be on the job, excluding in training.

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