Tool #2 – The Irons
The irons are a combination of a flathead axe and a Halligan bar which are carried/married together. This combination has been around the fire service for nearly sixty years and is tried and true. (A sledge hammer or PIG tool can be carried with the Halligan instead of a flathead axe.) The best part about the irons is that they always start — they do not need gas or chain adjustments to work, only elbow grease.
The irons are some of the most versatile hand tools we can have available for a RIT operation. Of course, the traditional use of the irons is in forcing doors. However, when we face a MAYDAY and the RIT is called to action, we can find numerous other uses for them.
4 (More) Ways To Use The Irons
#1 – As Steps Or Footholds
The Halligan can be used to create a step or a foothold in walls or roofs. Drive the spike of the Halligan into the roof or place it against the wall of the structure to create a quick foothold. This gives us a place to plant a foot when hoisting an injured firefighter from an attic space or when entering or exiting a first floor window.
#2 – As Hasty Anchors
Driving the spike of the Halligan into the floor or the roof of the structure allows us to make another anchor point for lifting operations. Driving the Halligan or the axe into the bottom corner of the window — across the wall studs — creates an anchor point for bailout.
#3 – For Breaching Walls
The irons do a fantastic job of breaching drywall or lath-and-plaster walls — which is useful if we need to create a quick exit from a hostile environment.
#4 – For Door Removal
Of course, the irons can be used to force a door open, but they can also take a door completely off its hinges. This technique is useful if we need a hasty stretcher to easily move and injured firefighter.
This is easily accomplished with interior doors. Simply use the axe to knock the door handle off, and then use the axe blade or adz of the Halligan to pry the hinge screws away from the door frame.
As you can see, the irons have sixty years of fire service history for a reason. They are arguably the most versatile tools we have. Make sure to have them in your RIT toolbox. In addition, without training we cannot use them to their fullest potential. So, get out there and practice these techniques!
Photos courtesy of Robert Simmons.
Check out the complete series here! (posting soon)