By Marianne Curtis
The Tache Fire Department is looking into the life expectancy of hydraulic hoses on their jaws of life equipment after an incident that took place during a rescue sent two fire fighters to hospital.
On January 9, the RM of Tache Fire Department responded to a single vehicle accident east of Lorette on PR 207. A vehicle had left the road and crashed into the ditch, pinning the driver beneath the dashboard. The fire department responded with the Jaws of Life.
According to Chief Peter Skjaerlund, firefighters were extricating the man from the vehicle when one of the hydraulic hoses on the Jaws of Life exploded, spraying two firefighters in the eyes and mouth with fluid.
“The two fire fighters were rushed to the Ste. Anne Hospital for treatment,” stated Skjaerland. “They will be fine.”
The remained crew managed to extricate the 35 year old Lorette resident from his vehicle using saws-alls and hand tools. He was taken to hospital in stable condition.
Contact with hydraulic fluid is not normally cause for alarm but it can cause minor skin irritation with prolonged exposure. Medical assistance is required immediately if ingested. It can cause nausea, dizziness and general discomfort but long term effects can be serious if not treated immediately.
Skjaerlund says that this was an unusual incident.
“A failure like this is extremely rare,” Skjaerlund says. “From now on we will be maintaining and replacing the hoses more regularly.”
Hydraulic hoses have a limited like span, as indicated by the manufacturer. Things that can reduce the life expectancy of the hoses can be environmental such as temperature extremes, sunlight, and chemicals that can degrade the rubber; rubbing against other hoses or objects can wear down the outer cover; pressure surges; vibration and improper length or routing that causes tension and bending can reduce the life expectancy by as much as 90%.