Controlled Impact Rescue Tool
Tales of Testing
John Carnett, Staff Photographer
I've built concrete walls and I've knocked them down, so I know what it's like to swing a sledgehammer until your arms go numb. But today I'm wielding a concrete-blasting piston that smashes through walls like the Kool-Aid Man. The tool is designed to help firefighters rescue people trapped behind rubble or in collapsed buildings—and do it fast. My partner and I each grab one end of the 100-pound machine and push the nose against a six-inch-thick slab of concrete. "Three, two, one!" He pulls the trigger, firing a blank rifle cartridge that punches the piston forward, smashing five inches into the cement. We repeat 12 times, loading in a new cartridge for each blast. Sixteen minutes later, we've knocked a manhole-size opening in the wall through which we could pass supplies. That's twice as fast as it would take a crew using chainsaws, drills and those arm-killing sledgehammers.
Looks like it is efficient and safe. How can it be used to breach concrete faster. What are the optimal techniques or power loads for different thicknesses. Will different masonory construction require different tool placement. I would like to test it.