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Donate Your Used Car to Help Train Local Firefighters

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1972 Chevy Vega

This beat-up 1972 Chevy Vega is a prime candidate for donation to a local fire department.
Photo: Mike

It’s the start of a new year— the perfect time to consider donating your old beater and purchasing a newer one. An often overlooked venue that is constantly in need of used cars is your local fire department. According to the Millburn Fire Department in New Jersey, old cars are used “to practice vehicle extrication, which is the process of gaining access to a victim who is trapped inside a vehicle.”

It’s a part of firefighter’s job that you might not think about, but it’s definitely a common task they complete while on duty, considering the prevalence of accidents that occur on a regular basis. The increase of distracted driving in the U.S., is one major factor that contributes to accidents nationwide. According to Robert Rosenberger, contributor to Slate, roadway fatalities have increased 14% in just the past two years.

Often serving as first responders to a roadside accidents involving trapped passengers, firefighters not only have to know how to tear apart a demolished car, but they also have to have a thorough knowledge of a vehicle’s structure so they know how to tear apart a vehicle as efficiently as possible. That way, they can be prepared to rescue victims from a variety of different vehicle models and a spectrum of crash scenarios in a short amount of time.

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Training Basics

During vehicle extrication training, firefighters use metal poles and wooden beams to stabilize crashed vehicles.

They also practice using metal cutters to slice away doors, roofs, and other car parts that are trapping a victim inside. As Andy Ziemer, a firefighter-paramedic with the Hinsdale Fire Department in Illinois, articulated, “You learn how to peel the vehicle away (from the person inside). You’re creating space to get someone out.”


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The heavier metals and equipment that more new vehicles are using poses an additional challenge to firefighters. Manufacturers have responded to this updated technology with modificated tools like more capable metal cutters and different airbags which will make it easier for rescuers to extricate car crash victims from battered vehicles.

For more information about donating your used vehicle to a fire department in your area, check out this link. Not only can you obtain a tax deduction for this type of donation, but more importantly, you’ll be helping equip firefighters to save car crash victims.

News Sources: Millburn Patch, Chicago Tribune, Slate