As limited staffing continues to be a concern for most fire departments, firefighters must do MORE with LESS. Although it is not ideal, a firefighter may be required to force a door by themselves. Whether this task is completed with one or two firefighters, three primary principles of forcible entry remain constant: GAP-SET-FORCE. First you must “gap” the door to create an opening for your tools. Next you must “set” your tools appropriately. After your tools are in the right position, you can successfully defeat the locking mechanism(s) and “force” the door.
The following is step-by-step guide to single firefighter forcible entry of an outward-swinging door.
Step 1: Door Size-Up and Shocking the Door
Perform a quick size-up of the door. Are there clues to indicate that you might not be able to force the door by yourself: multiple bolts indicating a drop bar, exterior padlocks, etc.? After your size-up, shock the door with three solid strikes of the halligan: HIGH-MIDDLE-LOW. Strike the door with halligan’s fork or with blunt edge of the adz. Striking the door might loosen the lock(s) or weaken the door’s integrity.
Step 2: Crush the Edge of the Door
In many cases, there may not be enough of a gap between the door and the frame to insert the adz. If this is the case, crush the edge of the door with the back side of the adz. This should “peel back” the edge of the door just enough to insert the adz. Alternatively, you can use the axe as a wedge by inserting it into the seam and driving it with the halligan.
Step 3: Insert the Halligan’s Adz
Step 4: Drive the Halligan’s Adz
With one arm, use the butt of the axe to drive the halligan as deep as possible. Alternatively, the shaft of the New York Roof Hook can be used to drive the halligan.
Once the halligan has been driven to the doorframe, continue to drive it as you pull the halligan’s fork towards you—this will cause the adz to “wrap around” the opposite side of the door. If two arms are needed to drive the halligan, a wedge can placed by the fork to create outward pressure—freeing up one of your hands.
Step 5: Deeply Set the Halligan’s Adz
To achieve maximum leverage, the adz must be driven as deep as possible. The images above show how the adz should “wrap around” the opposite side of the door.
Step 6: Force the Door
Grab the halligan with both hands. Use the leverage of your entire body to pull the halligan towards you: thus defeating the locks. Make sure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground (in the event that the door unexpectedly gives way).
Step 7: Control the Door
After the lock(s) have been defeated and the door fully opens, use the halligan to control the door, sound the interior floor, and sweep the floor for victims. After doing so, close and control the door until the engine company is ready to advance with the attack line.
Do you have any alternative methods for forcing outward-swinging doors with a single firefighter? Please post your comments below.
Photo Courtesy Jim Moss & Steve Sagehorn