Drills, Firefighter Training

Drill of the Week: Forcible Entry–Through-the-Lock Methods

Taking a halligan tool to a door to force entry into a structure may be the quickest method for gaining access, but it’s not always necessary. Pot-of-meat calls are examples of incidents where forcing entry and doing significant damage to the door, doorway, and lock might not be the best approach. In such instances, through-the-lock methods of forcing entry are more appropriate. Additionally, according to Howard A. Chatterton, author of Volunteer Training Drills–A Year of Weekly Drills: “You can also create a good public image if you cause no major or expensive damage to the structure.”

This week’s Drill of the Week reviews some methods that can help you develop proficiency in opening door locks while at the same time increasing safety, ensuring damage control, and creating good public relations.

Preparation for this drill is more involved than some other drills. It requires the training officer to visit locksmiths, locate locks, and mount the locks. The props should be assembled at least one month in advance.

Suggested materials include Fire Engineering’s Forcible Entry Video #2, Through the Lock: Cylinders and Key Tools; a door with locks; an Adams Rite lock; shove knives; and a K- tool.

Preparation includes visiting locksmiths to obtain samples (small sections of doors with locks mounted to them). You can also get an old door and mount several locks of different types along the edges. Obtain at least one Adams Rite lock mechanism, and mount it in a door or a section of 2 ×6 wood. Select a door at the station where you can demonstrate and have members practice using the shove knife. Try to schedule the drill just before an auto extrication drill, so members can practice opening the doors of a donated car with a Slim Jim.

Running The Drill
Part I–Shove Knives
Demonstrate the function of the lock bolt. Show how it prevents the bolt from being slipped.

  • Size up the bolt. If there is no dead bolt, the shove knife may be viable.
  • Demonstrate how to use the shove knife. Note that spreading the frame slightly in conjunction with using the shove knife may slip the bolt.


Part II-Videotape

Part III-Practical

  1. Remove the cylinder from the Adams Rite lock.
    • Point out how fine the threads are.
    • Show how small the setscrew is.
    • Emphasize how expensive the door is and the potential hazards for firefighters.
    • Have students practice with the key tool.
  2. Remove the cylinder from the high-security lock.
    • Point out the size of the setscrew and that it’s difficult to twist out.
    • Demonstrate that, with a double lock, you have to work two slides with the key tool.
  3. Rim Lock.
    Explain the following: first steps:
    • Look at the back of the lock.
    • Fit the key tool to trip the bolt.
    • Drive off the lock if the night latch is set.
  4. Picking locks.
    • Explain that picking locks takes lots of practice.
    • Explain the principles of picking locks.
    • Identify the tools that should be used.
  5. Opening car door locks using a Slim Jim.

As with any drill, brief the students beforehand, and critique at the end, to determine how to improve the drill.

To review training officer and safety officer considerations, visit http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=HOME&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID=202453 to review training officer and safety officer considerations.

For more information on this drill, including a list of references and a drawing of an Adams Rite Lock Demonstrator, visit http://store.yahoo.com/pennwell/voltraindril.html to purchase Volunteer Training Drills–A Year of Weekly Drills.

FireEngineering.com Drill of the Week Archive