Ever roll up to a vehicle fire and see crews fumbling around with trying to open the hood by cutting the inverted “V” at the hood latch?
Try this tip at the next engine compartment fire you’re working.
Before breaking out the saw try the hood release in the interior of the car if it’s accessible. Then try to open the hood the conventional way. When opening the hood be sure to have a charged hose line ready should the fire flare up. It’s better to try before you pry.
If hood does not release, instead of cutting the old style inverted “V” move a third to halfway up the hood. Use the metal cutting rotary saw (K-12 / Partner / Stihl or whatever brand your department uses) & sink the blade in the middle of the hood perpendicular to the front quarter panel and cut back to yourself, cutting through the quarter panel to ensure that you have fully cut through the edge of the hood.
Then go to the opposite side of the vehicle and continue your cut back to the quarter panel. This cut will allow the hood to be opened in the middle by using pike poles or a halligan to separate the front and back of the hood to access the engine compartment for extinguishment. All of this should be done while wearing all proper PPE & SCBA and under the protection of a hose line.
5 Reasons to perform the Horizontal Hood Cut
- Keeps the firefighter out from the front of the vehicle. Bumpers have been known to release and potentially can cause injuries.
- The metal is thinner in the middle of the hood than at the front.
- Some vehicles have multiple hood connection points. So, by cutting the main hood latch the hood may not release and more cutting is necessary.
- Some vehicles hood lifts from the rear forward. By cutting in the center you take out the guess work.
- It’s faster than cutting the inverted “V”.