The basis for the development of the search stick was the so-called long canes for visually impaired people. The search sticks are a further development of this product and have been optimised for fire service operations. The International Fire Academy is now launching the third version of its search stick. The new model is expected to be available for delivery from August 2021. The article explains the innovations and gives important advice for use.
High demands on material and practicality
The search stick is subjected to heavy wear and tear during training and operations. Large areas have to be searched quickly, reliably, and with as little physical effort as possible - in tunnels often also under lorries or rail vehicles (read our magazine article on this Search sticks: Feeling around instead of squatting).
The large probe ball at the tip of the stick supports the search in several ways:
- The probe ball slides more easily over the ground than a pointed stick end.
- It is less likely to get caught on uneven ground or, for example, storm drains and other coverings.
- It supports the sense of touch.
It reduces furthermore the risk of injury, especially for people who are found with the search stick.
New fastening for the probe ball
«In our courses, we have observed that the fastening of the sensing ball on the search stick tip is pulled out unintentionally now and then when the sensing ball gets stuck somewhere - on railway infrastructure, for example, between the rail and a wheel» explains CEO Urs Kummer. Many firefighters do not immediately realise what is happening, after all, the search stick is used in poor visibility.
With the previous search stick models, the probe ball can completely unhook and fall off. If the ball is still connected to the rubber cord that runs inside the search stick, it could be brought back into position with a flick of the wrist - but not with thick gloves and under time pressure. It then falls off during further search. Thus, the advantages of the probe ball are lost.
As an engineer, Urs Kummer discussed the problem with the manufacturer. After numerous discussed solutions and many tests, the solution was found: The search stick 3.0 is made of anodised aluminium instead of graphite. Aluminium allows the probe ball to be fixed through a screw to no longer be unintentionally pulled out. The ball can still be easily removed if, for example, it has to be replaced - by just loosening the screw.
Improved conical joints
In order to be able to carry the search sticks in a handy format, a foldable design was chosen from the beginning. It has since proven itself. Loosening the conical connections to fold the search stick back together is even easier with version 3.0, thanks to an improved design.
Experience shows that some firefighters always hit the vertically held search stick on the ground before using it to give the just assembled search stick the stability it is supposed to have. However, this is not necessary; on the contrary: As a result, the precisely manufactured conical joint connectors wedge so strongly that they can later only be separated again with a lot of force.
Further improvements in detail
Further small adjustments were made in the draft of the search stick 3.0:
- The handle of the search stick was also altered. It is a little shorter and round instead of being flattened on one side as before. The new shape lets it always feels the same in the hand.
- A new feature is a reflective element in red on the first segment immediately after the handle to help find it in the dark.
The weight of the search stick has remained approximately the same and is around 360 g. The search stick is well-balanced. Among the many technical detail improvements, the proven length and the familiar segmentation have been kept.
Search Stick 3.0 available soon
The new search stick version can be ordered now. The price remains unchanged at CHF/EUR 79 plus VAT.
The search stick 3.0 is expected to be available for delivery from August 2021.
By the way: We use the search stick every day in our training. You are also welcome to test the search stick 3.0 outside of the training sessions at the International Fire Academy. A quick telephone appointment is sufficient at +41 62 386 11 11.