1-6 Inspection of chains, webbing, wire rope and extrication tools
Extrication tools, such as spreaders, cutters, rams, chains, webbing and wire rope, must be kept in good working condition for the safety of firefighters.
If chains, webbing, wire rope or other extrication tools break during a rescue, the results can be catastrophic both to rescuers and the person being rescued.
Actions for employers
Employers must ensure that all extrication equipment is maintained in good condition.
- ensure that regular checks of tools, chains, webbing and wire ropes are made in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations so that they are:
- free of rust and/or other oxidation
- clean and properly lubricated
- free of fraying
- ensure that chains are hung
- ensure extrication tools are inspected regularly
- ensure that equipment is used for intended purposes
During use of tools, chains, webbing and wire rope
When using chains, webbing or wire rope:
- use pads around sharp edges
- stop use immediately if stretching of the chain, webbing, wire rope or hooks is observed
- position users away from the whip of a broken tensioned chain, webbing or wire rope
Excessive temperatures can affect both the strength and work characteristics of chains, wire rope or webbing.
Do not use chains, webbing or wire rope to lift objects unless they are rated for lifting loads.
After use of tools, chains, webbing and wire rope
After each use, clean and inspect tools, chains, webbing and wire rope for:
- excessive wear points
- nicks or gouges
- elongation of, distortion of or damaged links, couplings or attachments
- spread at throat openings of hooks on chains, webbing or wire rope
- hydraulic line damage
- damage to motor, handles or hydraulic tools
Measure spreading at throat openings of hooks on chains, webbing or rope against measurements taken at the time of purchase or manufacturer’s specifications.
Non-destructive testing of extrication tools
Extrication tools, including chains, should be inspected by a competent person using non-destructive testing methods, if the following conditions are detected by routine inspection or use:
- signs of wear, elongation, distortion or excessive heat
- tools or chains have been subjected to severe blows or impact loading
Hydraulic powered and electro hydraulic hybrid extrication tools
Hydraulic powered extrication tools should be inspected by a competent person at least annually, using the manufacturer’s specified test methods.
Maintenance or repairs on hydraulic powered extrication tools should be performed by a competent person.
Employers should develop a guideline for routine checks and inspections that follow the manufacturer’s specifications and should ensure that:
- hydraulic lines, valves, couplings and connections have no leaks, kinks or visible wear
- quick connect coupling devices perform as intended with locking devices
- protective caps are in place and in good repair
- tips, shears and other contact points as well as connective devices such as pins show no signs of visible damage
- the “deadman” switch returns the control handle on the tool to the neutral position when released
- lubrication oil in the power head crankcase is at a level that meets manufacturer’s specifications
- hydraulic fluid in the power head is at a level that meets manufacturer’s specifications
- wires and cable that power an electrical hydraulic pump are free of visible damage
- carrying handles, if equipped, are in good repair
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(1)(b) for maintaining equipment in good condition
For additional information on hydraulic powered and electro hydraulic hybrid extrication tools, read NFPA 1936 Standard on powered rescue tools, 2015 Edition