One thing I've always liked about the Fire Service is the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome problems. If you give a firefighter a problem you can be assured they will come up with an answer. I have always found it interesting to visit firehouses across North America and see different tools and equipment that have been modified or made “in-house” to solve a specific problem that the department or crew faced.
One such homegrown invention that firefighters have come up with is known as modular cribbing. This invention came from the Mississauga Extrication Team in 1997, when the need for speedy vehicle stabilization was needed with limited manpower.
After trying a few versions of this cribbing the final product was perfected. Modular cribbing is 6 4×4 wood cribs that are divided into two separate modules and screwed together firmly on two rubber mats (conveyor belt). Using a more solid piece of rubber allows the crib to be slid into space and rotated with ease. Each 4×4 is spaced 4 inches apart. This allows two tiers of 3 4×4 box cribbing to be stacked. This also allows for the two sheets of cribbing to be stored as one solid piece. Both pieces are held together with a metal bar slid through the middle where holes are drilled. A handle made of a piece of seatbelt nailed to the end makes this easy to take off a truck shelf and carried to the scene.
To deploy the modular cribbing is a simple process. The cribbing point is selected and then the metal pin can be pulled, this separates the 2 individual modules allowing them to be stacked in opposite directions in place underneath the vehicle or what ever is going to be lifted.
Another tremendous advantage of the modular cribbing is that because the cribs are tied together with the rubber matting it helps prevent the cribbing stack from slipping or inadvertently moving during extrication or lifting operations. The belting also provides a fantastic and stable platform for air bag operations
One point of contact on a 4×4 crib will hold approximately 6,000 pounds of force. With nine points of contact this cribbing will support up to 54,000 pounds which is ideal for stabilization of large vehicles or heavy machinery. Airbags can be used on top of the modular cribbing with ease and stability.
Having used this type of crib in competition and in "real life" scene I can tell you that it is extremely useful and quick.