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Firefighters Report Difficulty on Breaking Glass in Mercedes

A firefighter in Fairfax, Va., who spoke to glassBYTEs.comô/AGRR magazine on the condition of anonymity, advised that his crew recently had extreme difficulty in breaking the windows on a Mercedes that had been T-boned (hit by another car on the side of the vehicle). The vehicle, from which the crew was trying to extract a passenger trapped inside, appeared to have laminated sidelites that resisted breakage as the crew tried to make its way into the vehicle.

"Unfortunately, no one trained us beforehand that this would be coming out," he says of the sidelites, which are relatively new in the market.

2007 S-Class Mercedes
Windshield Diagram

While the firefighter notes that the vehicle was actually more secure for the patient due to the sidelites, he advises that it took the crew two minutes, as opposed to a norm of 15 seconds, to break into the vehicle to extract the patient.

Once the crew discovered it couldn't break the windshield or sidelites as usually is the case, they tried to saw through them.

"We were thinking instead of cutting it out we could saw through it, but it would melt the laminate and gum up the saw. The friction was melting the laminate," he says.

Eventually, the crew cut out all of the windows utilizing a tool they refer to as "the Glass Master" in order to extract the patient.

Both the front and side airbags had deployed on the vehicle.

While the firefighter was uncertain of the exact type of Mercedes involved in the incident, he says the experience was an eye-opening one for him and others involved.

"We're going to start training and preparing [for this type of thing]," he says.

Rob Moran, manager of product communications for Mercedes-Benz, says the company actually provides demonstration to fire departments across the country for issues such as this. "We work pretty closely with municipal fire departments all over the country to do demos on new cars for extrication," he told glassBYTEs.comô/AGRR magazine.

Without knowing the exact make of the car, Moran notes that it is difficult to tell what occurred in this situation, but that the company's 2007 S-Class is equipped with double-laminated glass sidelites, along with a good deal of light-alloy steel—and instructions for rescue workers who come in contact with the vehicle.

"We actually put on the windshield itself diagrams that show rescue workers how to cut the windshield away. That's the only car I know of that uses that diagram," he says.

CLICK HERE for an in-depth look at the future of plastic sidelites from AGRR magazine.

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