By Author(s): Les Baker 
See Turtle Plastics  in Product Connect
Published Tuesday, May 1, 2012
| From the May 2012  Issue of FireRescue 
Turtle Plastics, an Ohio-based company, offers a complete line of industrial and public safety products that are made from recycled plastics; they also come with a five-year product replacement warranty and a 50-year warranty against mold, rot and mildew. Both the company and its owner, Tom Norton, have a long history of supporting the fire and rescue services. They have contributed various amounts of equipment to fire and rescue organizations, as well as extrication schools and competitions. They’ve also been very open to suggestions by responders and actually advocate their input.
To assist with vehicle stabilization during extrication incidents, Turtle Plastics developed innovative “lock blocks.” These products feature a Lego-type surface that allows them to interlock to ensure stability. The blocks measure nine inches square and come in black or yellow, as well as three convenient widths of one, two and three inches. The yellow lock blocks are more visible and allow responders to mark them more easily for unit identification. The interlocking design, along with varying widths, allows responders to easily mix and match the blocks to meet various needed heights.
I tested one or two blocks, along with a wedge, on a variety of small- to medium-sized passenger vehicles. Because most wedges are constructed of 4" material and can fill the void of the widest lock block, I found it easier and more convenient to work with the 3" width. This will eliminate a lot of confusion for responders when operating at complex or stressful extrications.
To successfully accomplish vehicle stabilization with lock blocks, responders should store them in crates or totes along with several wedges. Although the interlocking feature of the blocks is extremely useful, they may be limited in stabilizing vehicles or cribbing points that are relatively high off the ground, because the blocks are nine inches square. As a result, they should not be used for situations where the cribbing point is more than approximately two feet high. For these reasons, lock blocks are appropriate for light- to medium-duty rescue vehicles that are typically equipped with enough cribbing to stabilize one to two vehicles in a wheel-resting, roof-resting or side-resting orientation.
When placed under cribbing points, the lock blocks have a small horizontal profile and do not protrude out from the vehicle. This assists with limiting trip hazards in the hot zone. They also have a small vertical profile and don’t protrude up past the bottom of the vehicle. This provides additional advantages in certain situations, such as door removals near cribbing points.
The plastic cribbing is resistive to most common fluids found at motor vehicle collisions, including water, fuel, oil, etc. When contaminated, they can be cleaned with water, soap and degreasers.
When the lock blocks are fairly new, they may be slippery. They should be used several times in training situations or intentionally abraded before being used at incidents, similar to some other types of cribbing material and design.
One additional use for the blocks that’s not directly related to stabilization: as a base for certain ram and spreader operations. Because of their size, it’s easier to use one lock block than several pieces of cribbing. Situations where they could be used in this way include vertical spreads of the roof line off the rear deck, interior ram operations off the seats, lift operations with tools such as high lift jacks and spreaders, etc.
Although they’re not necessarily intended to replace typical cribbing for every situation, Turtle Plastics’ lock blocks are a unique tool that can provide added stability and help complete stabilization at many vehicle extrication incidents.
Sidebar: Lock Blocks
- Interlocking design
- Various widths and colors
- Reduce trip hazards on scene
- Easy maintenance
- Made from recycled plastic
- Limited use in stabilizing vehicles or cribbing points that are high off the ground
Sidebar: Turtle Plastics Contact Information
7400 Industrial Pkwy.
Lorain, OH 44053
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