Chocks and blocks

Published:  09 October, 2012

At the FDIC in Indianapolis Kenbri Fire Fighting’s range of cribbing systems attracted a lot of interest – Ann Marie Knegt went over to find out why.

Wooden stabilisation chocks and blocks are still a relatively new concept in the United States, says Henrij van Gerner, Kenbri Fire Fighting/Weber-Rescue Nederland. “Our range is made from wood and resembles Lego blocks. The blocks are all interlocking, crafted from beech wood coated in linseed oil, so dirt and blood stains are easily removed.

“In Europe wood has been accepted for a long time as the best cribbing material, but in the US many departments are still using plastic cribbing blocks. Everybody knows that wood has better properties for stabilisation because it crams itself into a space and adjusts slightly under pressure, and therefore will not release or slide. Hence the structure will become much more stable than when using plastic chocks. Wood only requires stabilisation once, and this creates a much safer situation.”

Henrij explains that wooden chocks weigh less than plastic, because the type of plastic used in cribbing systems is usually of an agricultural grade, consisting of multiple compressed layers that tend to be rather heavy.

The first range that was brought to market was the StabPack system, which comprises a range of different sized and shaped blocks, also closely resembling Lego. It has been designed to block up spaces by stacking plywood-interlocking plates of different size, shape and thickness.

Later on the range was extended with the StabChock and StabLock. The StabChock system is a step chock, also made from wood, in which a wedge is inserted. With many plastic systems the wedge is placed under or above the step chock and it can slip away easily. StabChock has eliminated this problem because due its natural properties wood will be safely crammed in the space.

The StabLock Chock is a cribbing system that enables easy stabilisation of vehicles, by lifting the chock, with the handgrip on the back, until the space between the ground and the vehicle is filled up. Subsequently the rescuer simply needs to slide a wedge in the chock in order to fill the empty space, enabling a totally safe construction.

Henrij adds that Kenbri Fire Fighting/Weber-Rescue Nederland was the first in the world to design a stabilisation system especially geared for extrication scenarios. StabFast was brought to market in 2002 after a client had to respond to two different motor vehicle incidents in one day, where one vehicle was on its side and the other on its roof.

“He had no way of stabilising the vehicles properly during both incidents, and therefore he approached us to see if we could offer a solution. We then went to visit Interschutz (2000) in Augsburg, Germany, to see if such equipment was available. However, we could not find anything, because stabilisation wasn’t much of a focus for the fire service in those days,” comments Henrij.

StabFast MKII is a universal stabilisation system (metal struts) that can be operated without any requirement for pneumatic or hydraulic tools, on all types of vehicles even in complicated situations such as for HGV stabilisation. Henrij adds that the system can be used for every type of motor vehicle incident, and it has no loose parts. “The struts and straps do not obstruct the extrication, and it is easy and simple to set up and transport.”

Henrij explains that the range has proved very popular over the years. “It takes less time to stabilise the vehicle and extractions are controlled in a much safer way without worsening the patient’s injuries.”

Kenbri Fire Fighting/Weber-Rescue Nederland supplies the systems in the US, Australia, Holland, Belgium and some of the Asiatic countries; in the rest of the world they are available from Weber-Rescue Systems, Austria.

  • Operation Florian

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