Archive for May, 2010

Residential Security Door

Lieutenant Nate Quartier from Ormond Beach (FL) Engine 94 sent in these photos of something the crew was discussing around the firehouse. One of the brothers, Jim Peter was telling the crew about a new residential security door he saw at the local home improvement store. So after a short discussion, the crew loaded up and headed to the store for some impromptu in-service training. (Which is a great idea, an amazing amount of training opportunities await us there.) At first glance the door appears to look like any other residential door, but the price tag alone should let you know it has something a little extra. (Of course the price won’t be known when we come across it on a structure.) The door is an outward swinging door with an extra lip over the jamb to cover the traditional gap, and the hinges are more substantial, more like hinges found on some commercial doors. Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious what sets this door apart from the others. It basically has six deadbolts (4 in the middle, and one top and one bottom) that are all controlled by a single lock mechanism.

Below is a video for the product. Don’t mind the fact that it is a promotional video, it still has some good information about the construction of the door. We certainly question their forcible entry demonstration, but it seems that through-the-lock would be the simplest way to go on this one. Speaking of their forcible entry techniques… That is why it is important to train, study different doors, and lock mechanisms, and to identify and visualize when forcing a door. No one who ever wears our uniform should look that ridiculous when faced with a challenging door.



Rex Hook


Sgt. Pullen from DCFD Truck 4 sent in his idea of “making it work” with another rex tool modification. The tool was created by removing the collar from a mini rex tool and adding it to a shortened halligan (NY roof) hook. Once the collar was removed from the mini rex, a hole was drilled through the head, and a 2” piece of round stock was added. The round stock was then sleeved (and welded) into the hollow end of the shortened hook. The round stock gives the tool the strength required when prying with the rex head. The welding was performed by FF Wipprecht from Truck 4.

Sgt Pullen points out that the tool has proven to be useful for a number of different situations: going through-the-lock on investigations, lock-out’s/lock-in’s, forcing into the “charlie” side with nothing evident, into exposures, and to the floor above in apartment houses. All with minimal damage to the door and sometimes even quicker than conventional methods.

Obviously the shortened four foot hook has some advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages are that it’s nice to have the rex tool handy without the weight of it in the pocket, the tool has the strength and stability required for the lateral movement of working the rex head behind the lock, and it provides the user with a hook once entry has been made. Some disadvantages are that the tool is too long to be used in some hallways, and is too short for extended use pulling ceiling over head.

It’s just another great example of firehouse ingenuity and working smarter, not harder.


Make It Work For You

We have said it before, ingenuity is an important part of our job. We should always be thinking of ways to make ourselves more effective on the fireground. One of the ways of doing that is by evaluating ways to modify our tools to increase their usage on the job. Many of the tools currently found on every fire apparatus in the world have their original roots as firehouse creations. Fortunately for us there are a few reputable tool companies that have taken these creations and made them available to everyone.

Firefighter Plunkett from a New York suburb fire department sent in a picture of his modified rex tool. The main benefit to this modification is that it makes the tool pocket size so it’s one less thing to carry. This particular modification allows for the tool to be utilized with a halligan and has both a slot for the adz and a collar for the pike. There are pros and cons to using the adz or pike depending on the situation. The nice thing about having the adz slot on the tool is having the ability to apply lateral force (side to side motion) when working the tool behind the lock. Rex tool modifications are nothing new, in fact, there is now a commercially made “lil rex” that is very similar to the homebrew version here but with just the pike collar. Regardless if this particular modification is right for you or your company, the idea is to think outside the box. There are many great tools already available for our profession, but with some simple modifications, you may be able to make the suit your own needs.

Modifying tools to suit company or personal preferences is a good thing. however, don’t forget the most important step, TRAIN WITH IT!


Vent Grills

We have shown many photos in the past of deceptive buildings. We truly believe they all hold a valuable teaching point regardless if they are located in your area or not. The idea is to spark your curiosity to evaluate all of the buildings in your response area. Perhaps more importantly when evaluating buildings and building construction, you should always suspect that what you are looking at my not be the case. Engineer Steven Negedly from Orlando Engine 9 sent in some more photos that prove this point. These pictures are taken at the headquarters building for a local mass-transit bus company. The business type alone should have you on the look-out for something out of the ordinary, and the vent grills in place of some of the windows should be the dead giveaway. Well the backside of that “structure” reveals the truth, it’s simply a facade that contains the fuel tanks (biodiesel, diesel, and gasoline.) Keep your eyes open, know your area, and always expect the unexpected.