High-Pressure Air Bags - Snohomish County Fire Chiefs Association

High-Pressure Air Bags 101
Set-Up and Safety
This PowerPoint is intended as a general review
of high-pressure air bag set-up and safety
 There are various different air bag systems
currently used in Snohomish County. Always refer
to your departments SOP/SOG’s as well as
manufacturers recommendations prior to use.
 All high-pressure airbag operations should be
performed in conjunction with proper
stabilization practices. See Snohomish County
Training Officers 2014 (First Quarter) “Vehicle
Wear appropriate protective clothing, helmet, eye
protection and gloves.
Never exceed maximum inflation pressure (usually 118135 psi).
Never connect or disconnect system components while
pressurized unless a safety in-line relief valve is in place.
Always ensure you are positioned on the opposite side of
the expected load movement.
Never be below a load that has not been blocked or
cribbed. Stay on your feet!
Always center the load on an airbag (can violently eject).
Never stack more than two air bags on each other during
Safety continued:
 Always place the smaller air bag centered on the top of
the larger.
 Inflate only enough to achieve desired lift.
 If the desired object to be lifted has a small surface area
of contact, always use plywood/ dimensional lumber or
other rigid material between the bag and the object to
distribute the load.
 Always inflate slowly to prevent load shifting and
stabilize/block as you go.
 Ensure all valves between the air source and bags are in
the closed position prior to turning on the air source.
 Ensure the air bags are not in contact with hot or sharp
objects prior to operation.
Safety continued:
 Always have the bags connected to the air hose prior to
placing under the load.
 It is a good general practice to inflate the bag to only 75%
of its stated lifting capacity . This is to avoid the “pillow”
effect and reduces the potential for the bag to slip or kick
 When stacking two bags the maximum tonnage of the
smaller bag is the maximum that can be lifted.
 Change the air supply when the bottle drops to 100 psi.
 Reduce rated bag tonnage capacity by 50% to calculate
the maximum tonnage capacity when lifting height
exceeds 1” i.e., a 30 ton bag with a maximum lift of 10”
will lift 30 tons 1” or 15 tons approximately 7.5”.
 Only 1 person should give the controller the order to lift.
Air bags come in a
variety of shapes
and lifting
capacities. Three
of the most
common in use are
the 15, 29.9 and
41.5 ton.
Information and
warning labels
clearly indicate
each air bags
capabilities and
markings are
beneficial for
during emergency
operations and
under poor
The dual “deadman” safety relief and
control valve is one type of valve
commonly found in Snohomish
County. It has a single input from
the air source and two outputs for
dual bag operations.
Each output has a gauge for reading
the pressure within each bag during
The control valve has quick
disconnect hose fittings and dual
push-button controls to apply and
release air pressure to either one or
two lift bags.
Air hoses come in a variety of colors and are all inter
changeable within the system.
When inflating or deflating air bags the hose color
determines the commands for each individual bag.
Example: “up slow on yellow” or “down slow on red”.
In-line relief valves are quarter turn shut-off valves
which allow the controller to be disconnected while
maintaining pressure within the air bag. This is common
for repositioning during multiple bag lifts.
The most common supply for air bag
systems is an SCBA bottle. A large portion
of Snohomish County use 4500 psi Scott
bottles which need an adaptor to connect to
the system.
There are two types of pressure regulators
found with air bag systems. Each has a
gauge indicating delivery pressure and
supply pressure.
Assemble all of the components:
Seat adaptor onto air bottle
Attach regulator to adaptor
Connect air line to regulator
Remember to secure the locking rings!
Connect airline from regulator to the controller
In-line relief valves should be connected to either the controller
end or directly to each air bag in use.
Shown in the open position. Relief valves should always be closed prior
to charging system.
 Connect airline from the controller to the air bag with
the in-line relief valve located at the desired end.
Turn on the air supply.
Adjust the regulator to the appropriate pressure.
 Once the air bag system is assembled, move it
into position for the lift (Scene Survey‐
INNER and OUTER Circle with stabilization
i.e. chalk, keys & parking brake should
already be complete)
 Prepare to receive commands for the lift operation.
It’s 07:00 on a Friday morning and you’re dispatched to a
Car vs. Pedestrian.
Multiple callers report a child has been struck by a
vehicle while waiting for the school bus.
Upon arrival you note a crowd has gathered around the
scene and a witness states the child is still trapped under
the vehicle.
This is what you see. You note the patients left leg is
rolled on top of his right and pinned under the rocker
What are your scene consideration?
What resources will be needed for the operation?
What stabilization methods will need to be used for an
air bag operation?
Gather all needed equipment for a high-pressure air bag
Review air bag safety and stabilization practices with
your crew.
Assemble the air bag system and lift a vehicle utilizing
proper stabilization techniques.
Safely lower vehicle.

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