By Brian Zaitz
Forcible entry is a task that can make or break a fireground; the ability to gain access in an effective and efficient manner is as simple as training. When facing an inward-swinging door, take a three-step approach to the force.
Create a gap between the rabbit and the door so as to allow a small space for the forks end of the halligan to pass. The gapping is an essential element; without it you will simply drive the forks of the halligan against the door or the frame.
To set the tool, a series of strikes or hits on the halligan are done to drive the fork end of the halligan past the rabbit just until the landmark arch creates an “A.” When setting the tool, all calls for strikes are done by the firefighter holding the halligan, a call of “strike” indicates one hit by the ax firefighter. This is done so the halligan firefighter can maneuver the tool with each strike; once in place, a call of “drive” indicates for the ax firefighter to continual hit the halligan until a “stop” is called and the tool is set in place.
Forcing the door is simply that, using the leverage of the bar to overcome the locking mechanism of the door. The halligan is pushed inward toward the door in a controlled manner so as to not overly open the door. It is critical to remember that every forcible entry opening is also a flow path and must be managed.
Like all fireground activities, the only way to gain proficiency is through training. Forcible entry is no different. Take time to practice the steps, slowing down and focus on each one individually. Ensure crews are using proper commands and the force is coordinated and controlled.
BRIAN ZAITZ is a captain/training officer with the Metro West Fire Protection District, St. Louis County, Missouri. He is an instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy as well as a hazmat specialist with MO-TF1. He has achieved the designation of fire officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He has several degrees, including an associate in paramedic technology, a bachelor’s in fire science management, and a master’s in human resource development.
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