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Advanced torch gets a demo before law enforcement, fire departments

A sedan and a van collide. A large piece of concrete with rebar jutting out from the edges falls, crushing the front end of both vehicles.

In about three minutes James Rexroad sliced off the top of the van, ready to remove the passengers. The Mercedes sedan was a bit harder to cut.

A torch melted away the rebar in a matter of seconds.

This accident was staged. But it gave Rexroad, operations manager for Marine Services Commercial Diving Company Inc. (MSCD), a chance to demonstrate Thursday how the company’s products could help the 40 onlookers.

The attendees represented 18 organizations including military, law enforcement, fire departments, engineering and construction companies.

Some police departments already successfully used the equipment.

Rexroad, a former member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, trained another department to use MSCD’s exothermic torch to cut through the bars on a known felon’s home.

The torch is quiet enough to be used without being detected.

“He woke up to flashlights and black holes,” Rexroad said.

Previously, the breaching gear was designed specifically for the Navy SEALs, Drug Enforcement Administration and SWAT teams. And they continue to be important customers.

Mike Duran, a sales representative from ADS Inc., said he recommends the breaching gear to his military customers because of its durability and effectiveness.

He said the equipment continues to fill an important need of the military.

“(Thursday’s demonstration) reaffirmed my belief that he does make quality equipment that is needed in the industry,” he said.

As the product advanced, commercial uses began to present themselves. And rather than tell people their product is great, MSCD decided to let the product speak for itself during the demonstrations.

To cut rebar, many companies use expensive blades that break after cutting only a few pieces.

In a recent test, Rexroad found that his exothermic torch can cut five pieces to every one cut with a blade.

It does not provide the same clean cut a blade would make, but it is a quick way to get the job done. And in some cases, a clean cut is not entirely necessary.

But the equipment is not for everyone.

Chad Carpenter, operations manager at R.E. Staite Engineering Inc., said it would not be cost efficient or practical for his purposes.

“Biggest use I could get out of that equipment would be demolition work,” he said, citing one project he did on Coronado that required the demolition of thick concrete pillars. “That tool would work very well in helping teams demolish heavy infrastructure.”

The infrequent need for demolition work, however, would not make it cost efficient for his company. Though he said he thinks it is “an excellent tool” that many people will use.


erin.bridges@sddt.com

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