Cutting open a car: Which tool is best?

 Firefighter-paramedic David Dachinger cuts through the side of a Volvo station wagon at a demonstration of new hydraulic rescue tools Tuesday morning behind the recycling center. The fire department tested four  brands — Hurst, Holmatro, TNT, and ResQtech. —Steve Coulter photo

Firefighter-paramedic David Dachinger cuts through the side of a Volvo station wagon at a demonstration of new hydraulic rescue tools Tuesday morning behind the recycling center. The fire department tested four brands — Hurst, Holmatro, TNT, and ResQtech. —Steve Coulter photo

Career and volunteer firefighters-paramedics came off duty Tuesday morning to a lot behind the recycling center to test four brands of hydraulic tools — Hurst (the company that invented and trademarked “Jaws of Life”), Holmatro, TNT, and ResQtech.

“We are testing a variety of hydraulic tools to help us decide what we want to purchase on July 1,” said Fire Chief Heather Burford. “Residents were good enough to approve the replacement of our antique hydraulic tools and now we are doing the research of the  brands that are on the market to make the best purchase possible.”

The town voted last month to approve the $39,980 expense to fund new hydraulic equipment for the fire department.

The last time the department upgraded their Jaws of Life was 20-plus years ago, Chief Burford said.

“This purchase reflects the newer and safer cars on the road that are very difficult to pry open — the old Jaws don’t work as well as they used to,” Chief Burford said. “That was a huge part of our consideration.”

At the testing demonstration, firefighter-paramedics ripped open cars ranging from a Volvo — “notoriously well built” — to a Buick.

The department received eight to 10 cars through donation from townspeople, Chief Burford said.

Chief Burford added that the department would make its decision on what brand they want by the third week of June, although the department  won’t have the money until July 1.

“We want to understand all the features that come with these four brands and we want to chose the right tool for Ridgefield,” she explained. “We are also searching for the right tool for our staff

“Our trucks have two men, not four, so we are looking at weight and accessibility as two main priorities.”

The firefighter-paramedics previously tested two unspecified brands in the fall, so Tuesday’s practice was the second evaluation session, Chief Burford noted.

“We wanted to have more options, more technology to choose from,” she said. “We didn’t know if we were going to get the funding approved in the fall though so we waited until now.”

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