The Early Years of Tire Deflaters

Don Kilgrow and Mel Pederson have been credited as the inventors of the Tire Deflation device that we know of today. Kilgrows concept was a covert pursuit termination product as opposed to a high visibility road block. The system eliminated the need for vehicles and officers on the roadway. The gray color was hard to see and the multi-lane width assured a hit every time.

The era was one of high liability law suits with a pursuit or a no pursuit policy.

Trooper Kilgrow, was familiar with the police tactics and the liability of pursuits. With design engineer Mel Pederson they developed a product designed to minimize the liability for law enforcement agencies and improve public safety by safely stopping a problem driver.

Kilgrows product became adopted by many law enforcement agencies both large and small and soon he re-invented the spike-strip as the tool of choice for stopping a pursuit. The popularity and the safety of the product helped launch the tire deflation industry and in 1993 many new products and competitors hit the market.

It is with regret that this era of safe pursuit termination is no longer with us. The tool which had such great promise, today has played a part in the deaths of many law enforcement officers.

In 1990 I went to work for Kilgrow and we watched the product grow to stop tens of thousands of pursuits, and we also watched in sorrow as the industry took its own direction, with the knowledge of the consequences which many would suffer.

In this research and planning section we outline the problems many have had with tire deflaters and we re-identify Kilgrow’s original concepts.


Leave a Reply