After several request for information on the Boron and Ultra-high Strength Steel (UHSS) used in Subaru vehicles I decided to put together a post. Subaru is well known for the use of Boron and UHSS so I steered cleared of focusing too much attention on that automaker. A safe assumption is to consider a Subaru as an “Extrication Challenge”! For example, the B-Pillar on the 2004 Subaru WRX Sti is constructed with “two” solid UHSS bars running the entire length of the it. The roof reinforcements have the two solid UHSS bars running the lengh through the roof posts.
Subaru uses a Ring–shaped Reinforcement Frame body structure in construction of their vehicles. This structure has been used in Subaru vehicles since 2002.
If you want a structure to withstand the intense energy of a car crash, you
need to build it with the highest quality materials. Subaru reinforces the key
structural elements of its vehicles by building them with the most durable
high-tensile steel. Because we see so much of the frame as key to your safety,
nearly 40% of our Ring-shaped reinforcement Frame is constructed of high-tensile steel.
Subaru takes safety very serious. Remember what I have stated in the past. When a vehicle gets 5-stars on the side impact test by the government, that equals boron and UHSS! The 2010 Subaru Impreza scored a perfect five stars for frontal crash protection, five stars for front occupants in a side crash and four stars for rear occupants in a side crash.
NHTSA Ratings for the 2010 Subaru Impreza:
- Passenger: 5 stars
- Driver: 5 stars
- Side Impact Front: 5 stars
- Side Impact Rear: 4 stars
- Rollover Rating: 4 stars
The 2010 Subaru Forester received all 5 star rating for the NHTSA tests. So consider that a vehicle with some reinforcements underneath that will cause problems for an extrication team.
Why is all of this important? Take a look at the picture to the left. See anything strange about the B-Pillar? The Orangeburg Fire Department in New York tried to cut the B-Pillar of a four-door Subaru WRX STi without success. Believe it or not, this photo is over 4 years old! That was at least a 2004 model year vehicle, maybe even a few years earlier. The photo below is why the firefighters were not able to cut through the B-Pillar. Would your cutters cut through that? Boron and UHSS is everywhere so study vehicle design and train on different extrication techniques! Like Ron Moore says, you need to have a Plan A,B,C,D, etc!
Take a moment and download the Overcoming Extrication Challenges with Boron and UHSS Guide. The guide is no sure fire solution and was put together as a starting point for firefighters and first responders to understand what problems Boron and UHSS can cause and different work around techniques to get past those materials. The guide utilizes information from this site, other sites, and a presentation online called The Challenges of Extrication Involving Vehicles with Advanced Steel Structures that Ron Moore and Firehouse.com hosted in October 2009.