Throw Back to Basics: Forcible Entry for the Lone Firefighter

A lone firefighter forcing entry.

By Brian Zaitz

Forcible entry is a fundamental truck company skill, one that requires skill, discipline, and training. With many of us facing short-staffed situations, combined with a lack of dedicated truck companies, we can find ourselves performing this task off the engine or quint often with one firefighter. While not ideal, it is possible to gain access both quickly and efficiently. This training bulletin focuses on the one-firefighter force of an inward swinging door, commonly found on the front of most single-family residential structures as well as the unit doors of multifamily dwellings.

To perform this task, ensure that you are prepared for what is behind the door; while this sounds trivial, it is critical to have an expectation of what your are forcing into and are prepared to take action. The force begins with a swing of the halligan so that the pike drives into the jamb just below the locking mechanism. The drive essentially sets the tool in place to allow for the force. Ensure the adz’s face is within an inch of the door–this will allow for a substantial purchase point on the door. Next, the firefighter either forces up and away or down and in, depending on the hinge location. Whenever forcing, try to use your legs, which provide a safer, more effective, and controlled force. Once the door has been forced, control the opening by either grabbing the door with the halligan or an attached piece of webbing to the knob.

Whenever performing any fireground function, whether forcible entry or any other task, it is important to coordinate and be aware of the next step for you and your crew as well as what is likely to occur to other crews. This will assist in providing for an efficient, effective, and safe fireground. 

Download this drill as a PDF HERE (1.5 MB).

Brian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy.  Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.



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