Over 25 Detroit-area first responders smashed windows, deployed airbags and cut up vehicles at Butler’s Collision in Roseville, Mich., kicking off the National Auto Body Council’s (NABC) fall schedule of First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE) training sessions.
Hosted by NABC members, the FREE program provides local first responders across the country with unique, valuable instruction and hands-on extrication practice specifically on late-model vehicles with complex airbag systems, sophisticated electronics and high-strength steels.
“We are dealing with a whole new car [and] high-strength steel that poses a little bit of a different problem. Now we are dealing with the issue that when we cut into the car, if it catches on fire we have to worry about the battery,” said Jeff Kaczynski, one of the participating Roseville firefighters. “We worked on brand-new cars with every new safety feature so we are seeing airbags in the posts and pillars, side airbags, airbags in the seats, so it poses lots of different threats out there. It’s nice to get training like this on newer cars so we can do our job much better.”
The FREE training programs are provided at no cost to the fire departments, thanks to the contributions and collaborative efforts throughout the collision industry. Around 50 late-model vehicles, typically two to three for each event, are donated by State Farm and Audi of America for the upcoming Fall FREE schedule. Extrication tools and instruction are provided by Holmatro Rescue Equipment with venue, event coordination, food and refreshments hosted by repair facilities.
The demo at Butler’s Collision was the first of 11 first responder events scheduled by 1Collision Network, utilizing two of the 17 2016 Audi A3 e-trons donated by Audi of America.
“We’re excited and pleased to partner with the National Auto Body Council, State Farm, Audi of America and all the participating shops to increase the opportunities for first responders to further hone their skills on 2016 Audi vehicles with model year technology, enabling them to save critical seconds and lives,” said Jim Keller, president of 1Collision Network.
Other repairers hosting FREE events this fall include 3D Auto Body & Collision Centers, Weber’s Body & Frame, Service King, CARSTAR Metcalf, Gapsch CARSTAR and A&B CARSTAR Smithville.
“NABC’s first responder extrication program is an excellent way for shops to give back to their local communities and to demonstrate the professionalism and integrity of our collision industry,” said Michael Jordan, chair of NABC’s FREE program. “We urge anyone interested in hosting this program to attend any of our upcoming events, join the NABC and contact us to schedule an event in your area.”
For more information about NABC’s FREE program, contact Mike McManus at (414) 768-8000 ext. 119.