Training-Forcible entry

Forcible entry

Irons work on the Fireground.  What’s irons you ask.   Normally this team is made up of two tools commonly found on Fire apparatus. 

1.      1.         The Halligan bar, or Pro Bar, not to be confused with the Hooligan bar or a wealth of other imitations. The Halligan is found in different lengths the standard being 30”  Lots of history with this tool  see www.firehooksunlimited for pics, google Hugh Halligan for more information.

 2.        The flat head axe  usually either 6 or 8lb  and can be substituted for a maul or sledge hammer if desired.  Remember when choosing an axe off of the truck for force entry don’t grab a pick head axe by mistake.  These have no striking surface to contact the Halligan tool.

These tools or the “Irons”  should be on the truck mated together or at least beside each other ready for service by the first in engine company or truck company.

Forcible entry is an art of its own in the fire service.  Traditionally performed by your District Truck Company or by an Engine if time or necessity allows.  By no means is this the only way to perform force entry on a fire, but it is by far the most widely used method in the fire service on residential fires with secured doors.  Even if you only need to break the glass and open a lockset, you will need a tool to do this safely.   If you make a habit of coming off of the apparatus or stopping by it and picking up the irons when you get your airpak you will be much more productive in your duties.  Especially if you aren’t lucky enough to get the first in attack line.  

I used to think that if you weren’t on the attack line on a fire you didn’t get to have any fun.  Bull, as soon as I was introduced to truck company operations all of that changed forever.  Which brings me to my point.  Take tools with you and you will get to use them.  Its your choice you can grab a shovel or an axe, its up to you.  I know which one I want.   Granted in the volunteer service we do not always have the luxury of enough people to perform truck duties (another lesson)  but we do have the tools and still need to get in.  FF’s can pull the handline and officers you will need to make sure the tools are there.  Take them with you to the door and give them to your crew.  Go perform your 360 degree walk around and meet your entry crew at the door.  By then the hose will be deployed and you should be ready for entry.  If the door isn’t forced go for it.  Enough about getting the tools to the door.  Remember this, don’t come up the to scene without a tool.   

Now how to go through a door (force entry) 

* Determine where you want to go in at.  Many doors will be forced on a structure fire but the entry door for the attack company should be first so they can check interior conditions.

*Try before you pry

*Read the building construction particularly the door.  Inward swinging, outward swinging.  Does it have multiple locks, wood or steel frame etc.

*Look for the easiest quickest and safest route.  Breaking a small pane of glass is good but breaking a full light glass is going to open up a hole that cannot be closed.  You just ventilated a structure   prematurely!   Oops.

*  We force doors from the door knob side for control. We control the door for two main reasons. Control of the interior
   conditions and reduce and traumatic impact on a victims skull that might be on the other side.
*  If you are carrying the irons to the objective...YOU position the halligan...let the other guy be the striker.
*  Halligan man looks at the purchase point and not the striker.
*  Striker works off the commands of Strike/Hit or Stop!
*  Striker must be able to strike properly! Don't strike like Mary!!!!!
*  Typically the striker is opposite of the halligan position. In tight areas the striker may have to kneel down.
*  When the halligan is in the correct position the firefighter holding the halligan should not feel any vibrations through
   his/her hands on each strike.
*  Make sure the door is controlled once it is forced. The pike and adz can be used to pull the door closed.
*  Just a side note. The Hydra-Ram does not work to well on wood frame/wood doors. To springy. Works best on
   rabbeted/molded metal stops or frames. Place the Hyrdra-Ram next to the locking mechanism. Bob from Fire
   Hooks Unlimited said that the 4" throw was great for fire departments. They also sell a 6" model.

Inward swinging door:

1  Try before you pry. Shake it tight or loose?
2  Tap the door three times with a tool in an attempt to loosen a tight door. Typically we do not teach tapping an
    outward swinging door as it may close it more securely or even lock it accidentally. 

Three step method:

1. Place adz 4-6 inches above or below the locking mechanism between the door stop and the door. The striker might have to tap you into your purchase. Two locks?...go between them while staying with the 4-6 inch principle. Lean into the purchase and twist up and down. Note: Wood frame/wood doors typically pop open with this traditional technique. If you are up against a rabbeted door stop ( typically metal frame and metal or solid core wood doors) this technique will assist with developing a purchase point.

2. Tough tight door? Place the fork into the purchase that you have made with the adz. The bevel or inside curve will be placed facing the door frame. We use the term wrap the door.  The angle of the halligan will depend on the amount of gap afforded by developing a purchase point. In the end we want the halligan positioned at a 90 degree angle to the door and frame. The fork should be driven in approximately half way and then pushed up and down...then removed. You are now set up for step three. Do not drive the fork in so deep that you can not remove it. If it gets stuck you may attempt to force the door by pushing towards the door. Just remember that you have less surface area against the door with the bevel facing the frame.

3. Step three is the classic bevel towards the door or wrap the frame. Angle of the halligan is just like step two. The fork must be driven deep enough to wrap around the frame. The halligan position should stop the striker when the fork is driven approximately 3/4 of the way to the inside of the door stop. Some departments notch their halligans sweet spot. Just like step 2...push the halligan towards the door.

Outward swinging door.

1. Lots of room? Use the fork end of the halligan. Use the same rules as you would for the inward swinging doors.
think of scooping the door away from the frame. Place the bevel towards the frame...wrap the door. Halligan firefighter should be positioned on the wall and not in front of the door. Foot should be placed at the base of the door for control.
Might want to keep the striker on the same side for safety. Do not drive the fork up to the shaft! If you drive in to deep the pull will transfer the energy straight across the door.....think SCOOP!.

2. Tight area...use the adz. The halligan firefighter will have to position in front of the door... again think of scooping the door out. In this case, once the adz is driven in ( Making sure that you get around the door stop) the halligan will be pulled out and at the same time down. This method is great because it torques the door out.

Thanks to Capt. Bob Sanborn for his contribution to this lesson and to the fire service in general.

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