Forcible entry is an essential component of firefighting functioning as it’s the first line of defense for extinguishing a fire. Firefighters need to breach through doors, windows, walls, floors, and security devices to access the fire. This primary firefighting task requires knowledge, technique, experience, and the right tools.
Entry into a building should be efficient and allow for safe and secure access and exit while minimizing damage in the process. To effectively enter a building, firefighters need to understand the leverage principles used in forcible entry and the dangers involved.
Here’s a look at the different tools and methods needed to help firefighters get into buildings and do their job well.
Pushing and Pulling Tools
For many years, the main tools that firefighters used were pike poles and closet hooks. Only using these tools was okay when most pulling involved ceilings or walls of plaster over wood lath as there was something available to hook and pull.
When drywall came into being in building interiors, firefighters began using the drywall hook. This hook can also be of use when needing to take down sheet metal walls and ceilings, plaster, and wood, grabbing large sections with each pull.
Other pulling and prying tools include the arson-trash hooks, the San Francisco hook with large gripping teeth on the underside, and the multipurpose hook, which helps with rapid removal.
A highly valuable tool that firefighters use is the Halligan bar, designed by a former FDNY deputy fire commissioner. This multipurpose prying tool consists of a claw, a blade, and a pick, which is useful in quickly breaking through different locked doors. The Halligan bar’s blade end can help firefighters break in through an outward swinging door by forcing the tool between the door and the jamb and prying it apart.
Other tools that firefighters use for prying are crowbars, flat bars, pry bars, the pry ax, and the Kelly tool, an offshoot of the Halligan bar.
These tools incorporate more than one of the multiple forcible entry functions and have become increasingly popular among firefighting operations. These combination tools include pry, combination, and truckie axes and can help departments save money by buying one tool where they would need two or three.
The pry ax, for example, is a hybrid tool that blends the cutting and hammering functions of an ax along with the prying and ramming functions of a pry bar.
The combination ax provides cutting, striking, and prying functions typically found in pick-head and flat-head axes. A combination ax provides firefighters with multiple capabilities than an ax, hammer, spanner wrench, rappelling ring, gas and water shut-off wrenches, windshield cutter, drywall cutter hinge remover, and forcible entry.
Fire departments should assess their current tools and see how they can benefit from purchasing these other options. Before purchasing new devices, fire departments should also get input from the firefighters onboard about which tools get used the most and which are used the least. If a tool is consistently in use, it may be time to retire it and make more room for newer tools.
About Provident Fire Plus
At Provident Fire Plus, we offer custom-tailored packages to best protect firefighters and volunteer firefighters. We understand the risks that emergency response teams are subjected to on a daily basis, and have worked to serve these dedicated professionals for over 87 years. For more information about our products and policies, we invite you to contact our experts today at (855) 201-8880.