Jaws of Life stolen from southern Utah fire department

Posted at 1:03 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 00:11:06-04

NEW HARMONY, Utah — A potentially life-saving tool was recently stolen from a fire department near St. George.

“Yesterday we came into the station and we discovered that the door was open on our apparatus here in our extrication equipment," said Acting Chief Jim Banks with the Harmony Valley Fire District. "Our jaws of life equipment had been taken."

The department believes that sometime between Sunday and Monday, someone broke into their Kolob Fire Station, went directly to the truck, and took the "Jaws of Life."

The Jaws of Life tool is used to cut thick metal and plastic on vehicles when someone is trapped after a crash.

“We use [it] for opening car doors and lifting vehicles,” Banks said. "The other part is a high-strength cutter that we can use for steering columns, roof pillars, things like that, but it's a critical piece of equipment that we need for extrication.”

Jaws of Life
Jaws of Life tool used by firefighter.

Banks said the department covers a section of the freeway with many accidents, and losing this tool puts them in a bind.

Nothing else was missing and it was obvious that whoever took the equipment was there for something specific and got what they wanted.

“Sure, we can call another department, but they're going to be 15-20 minutes away," Banks said. "If we have somebody that's trapped in a vehicle, it needs emergency care. And that's the only way that we can get them out. It really could make the difference between life and death.”

The chief estimated it was going to cost around $30,000 to replace the Jaws of Life if they can't get it back soon.

Because of the theft, the station will also need to shore up security with cameras, further straining the budget for the small department of 17 volunteers.

"Our budget for our department is not very big, so I literally will probably take a third of our budget to replace it,” Banks said.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call local law enforcement.

Jaws of Life
The Jaws of Life tool is used by emergency crews to rescue people trapped inside vehicles.