The Moelly Tool is a firefighter multi tool designed to reduce weight and clutter of excess equipment carried by firefighters. It takes the 5 most essential secondary tools for a firefighter to carry (axe, hammer, wire cutters, QV wrench, and rod cutters) and combines them into one apparatus that can extend to allow for increase of force, then retract for compact storage. This allows for firefighters to utilize the primary pocket of the turnout gear without overexerting it's capacity. Firefighters can be lighter, better equipped, and overall safer with the Moelly Tool. More on the process involved can be seen on the March episode of Firewatch (http://youtu.be/ps3b6DRFVSs).
Designer: Preston Moeller
The main issue firefighters address is equipment management. This was vocalized by many local firefighters and from Assistant Fire Marshall Tim Henshaw stating, "We have a lot that we have to carry. We have, one, personal equipment that protects us from the environment that we go in. Then we have tools that are basically to rescue us if we get in trouble, then we have all the tools to actually do the job we intended to do which is put out the fire, and our issue becomes, and I think one of the key areas we haven't figured out is, how do you carry all of this stuff?" He then went on to say "What we find out today is when you look at a firefighter get off the truck, the pockets on the turnout pants are abused with to much stuff in them, and it's really the only easy accessible place for firefighters to put that extra stuff." With that in mind, alternative storage locations on the turnout gear were investigated and current market solutions for tool management were analyzed. This exposed great opportunity for a multi tool specific for firefighters. Current multi tools are not specified for firefighters and require to much dexterity for them to use. The solution was to make a firefighter multi tool that fits in the turnout pant pockets, reduces weight and clutter of multiple tools, doesn't take functionality away, and caters to the firefighter in a way that other multi tools can't.
There's a lot to consider with the extreme elemental exposure that firefighters are faced with. The primary interaction between this environment and the product, involves a heavy concentration on structural integrity, thinking of how it will survive. Simplification of mechanisms, reduction of part separations, and increase of overall tolerances had to be made to reduce stress points and compensate for deformation. Along with this direct contact is the indirect contact of the adjustments the firefighter makes to cope with the same issues. Meaning the connection between user and product has a barrier of equipment in between the two. This created a larger hand size, decrease in visibility, and a lack of tactility. So the handle borders the gloved hand to keep it from sliding out of grip. Then adjustments to ergonomics had to modified because the gloved hand was one inch larger and would not fit if the borders were set to fit around a normal sized hand.
What's unique about this tool is it's specific designation for the needs of the user (firefighters). This process largely relied on working with experienced firefighters and directing the product with their many years of knowledge that I could not obtain on my own. The firefighters of Raleigh's Fire Station Five Platoon A were the primary influence, from the beginning with the initial concerns, to the end testing of the prototype. Along with answering questions, they also providing me with first hand experience of trying on and testing the equipment. Testing the equipment myself gave me a new perspective and allowed the firefighters to step back and see the interaction from a outside perspective, which reminded them of more issues. They were able to confirm which tools were most necessary for the Moelly tool, why they don't use the current solutions, and point out any issues with directions proposed. Even the misinterpretation of a firefighter thinking there was a quarter valve wrench in the handle of a sketch, led to the necessary addition of this item that I had previously not considered or even known existed. A turning point in the Moelly Tool's development was when confronted with the need for larger tools than the pocket could contain (one inch thick wire cutters). It led to the extending handle which in turn opened up new possibilities for it's uses, like the capability to cut large wires over an inch and to hammer a Halligan into a door frame with just one person, which neither was available before. Now the Moelly Tool replaces multiple small tools in less space and obtains the ability to transform into a larger tool that firefighters were previously unable to carry.
The end user would be the firefighter. With this tool being a combination of rescue tools (the tools necessary to survive) insted of time consuming tools that are only necessary when the firefighter has time to go back to the truck and get them any ways (screwdriver, wrench), the firefighter is able to decrease weight and enhance the chances of saving people when in true danger.
The Moelly Tool is designed to mimic the same simple and strong structural elements of the firefighter's primary irons (halligan and axe). Based on the firefighter's extended use of the primary irons being indefinite (lasting for 50 years and up) and the time of use is being limited to times when in danger, the Moelly Tool will last for a very long time. If it were to get damaged it could be sold for scrap metal or recycled.
Based on the production of loppers and large wire cutters, the Moelly Tool is made from heat resistant grade aluminum on the extension bars combined with steel for the working ends (head) for strength and end of the handles for weight balance. Each piece is forged stamped. The pivot point has a milled custom threaded pin that holds the two halves together and the handle covers are welded over the arms of the body.
This is intended to be sold to fire marshals to disperse amongst their firestations. The fire marshals are willing to buy a piece of quality equipment to keep their firefighters safe and if they think it may have use, if only to carry on the fire truck. With the Moelly Tools extent of possible uses, it is easily perceivable as an appropriate expense.