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How a new hydraulic tool is a game changer for rescue problems

Tackle complex calls with confidence using a multipurpose tool that can be used in a variety of scenarios

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Not having the right tools with the capacity to overcome new materials can slow down the extrication.


Sponsored by Holmatro

By Yoona Ha, FireRescue1 BrandFocus Staff

Recent technological advances sometimes make it hard to believe that up until the early 1960s firefighters used hand tools like pry bars and circular saws to conquer some of the most complicated extrication jobs. Now there are more than a dozen hydraulic rescue tools that you can choose from, which, depending on which firefighter you ask, can be a blessing or a challenge.

Many tools promise to perform extrications quickly, efficiently and effectively. But the reality is that you have limited funding to purchase and maintain these tools and limited space on your fire trucks. That’s why it makes the most sense to find special rescue tools that not only do the basics, but can also be used in a variety of rescue scenarios.

With reductions in fire service staffing in recent years, more fire rescue tools have evolved to become multipurpose items that take fewer firefighters to handle.

Take Holmatro’s Combi Tool model 5160, for example, that’s a combination cutter and spreader. This extrication tool can be used to cut, spread, squeeze and pull, and it can be used singlehandedly by one firefighter instead of two, whereas normally rescuers must split up to use a cutter and a spreader separately.

When it comes to tackling complex extrication calls or search and rescue missions, this tool has the capabilities that firefighters can rely on to get the job done. Here’s how:


Auto extrications are no longer the straightforward task that they used to be. Much more is involved than simply cutting through steel parts to get access to victims. Late-model cars have made parts like door pillars and roof rails with advanced high-strength steel. Not to mention airbags that can deploy at high velocity, creating a new hazard.

Not having the right tools with the capacity to overcome new materials can slow down the extrication. What’s worse is that this affects the expediency of transporting accident victims to trauma care, which can sometimes be a matter of life or death.

That’s where the Combi Tool model 5160 can help firefighters save lives.

“The tool cuts through the high-strength steel used in today’s cars and has no problem spreading steel to create the space needed to remove patients,” said Jason Bell, southern regional manager at Holmatro, who previously worked as a firefighter for 23 years. “The removable tips allow you to cut wider materials, and complete the cuts, which are by the way, features that were not previously offered in a combination tool.”

As recent changes in vehicle constructions have necessitated stronger cutting tools, you’d expect that the Combi Tool model 5160 would be heavier and more cumbersome. But this multipurpose tool weighs only 43.2 pounds–the lowest weight in its class. Plus, the Combi Tool has the largest spreading distance in the market, which gives firefighters the advantage they need to efficiently rescue victims from automobile accidents.


Every firefighter knows how important it is to have search procedures down pat, since it’s an essential and expected part of the job. But even for the most seasoned firefighters, rescuing victims from burning buildings and natural disasters can be time-consuming endeavors with unforeseen obstacles.

The GCT 5160 Evo 3 Combi Tool allows firefighters to work as efficiently as possible. It is a battery-driven version of the hydraulic tool that easily assists in forcible entry. It can break down metal or wooden doors and can also cut through some of the toughest materials, like steel, used in building construction and burglar bars. The high spreading forces and increased spread distance make the tool very useful in collapse rescue.

Due to its design as a combination cutter and spreader, it can allow one person to do the job of two and reduce the weight of equipment carried into a scene.

This makes a huge difference during searches, since it frees up the crew to focus on what they need to do to wrap up the search.


Holmatro, the company behind the Combi Tool model 5160, has been a U.S.-based manufacturer that produces hydraulic rescue tools for the past 30 years. It was the first manufacturer that met the National Fire Protection Association’s 1936 standards for certification. Holmatro also uses the independent certification company, Underwriters Laboratories to certify the performance of its hydraulic rescue equipment according to national and international standards.

The good news for firefighters is that if something were to go wrong with any Holmatro tool, they can rely on more than 50 service technician stations across the country and many more worldwide that can provide speedy support for Holmatro products. The manufacturer also offers customized training videos, resources on extrication techniques and tips for making the most out of your hydraulic tools.

When you’re looking to cut through some of the most challenging obstacles that firefighters face during rescue missions, consider adding the Combi Tool model 5160 to your arsenal. With its powerful cutting and spreading capabilities, user-friendly design and service dependability, the Combi Tool is a reliable choice for the most challenging search operations.