Tommy Ursetti from Sarasota County (FL) Station 5 sent in this photo of a different method of creating a tool wrap. This wrap simply uses cotton clothes line rope and some half hitches. The wrap is technically called a Chinese staircase, named from the spiral that is formed as the knot is tied. The wrap is started with a clove hitch at one end followed by multiple half hitches pulled tight after each knot. The wrap is finished with a another clove hitch and secured with super glue. One benefit of using this style of wrap is that it tends to be a bit more durable than wraps created with tape. Any small diameter rope works well for this wrap. One potential benefit to consider when using cotton rope is that it actually gets a little tighter when wet. Para-cord (550 cord) also works very well. It tends to create a flatter wrap if the inside stands of the cord are removed prior to wrapping the tool. Its a big pain to remove the strands, but some people prefer the flatter wrap. Tommy mentioned that he actually learned this wrap from Chris Kelly and Lt. Jerry Jensen.
Some people prefer modifying their tools with grips, others do not. There are obvious pros and cons. Whatever your preference is the key to success is to take care of your tools, and train with them regularly.11 comments
There are a number of different methods to defeat the carriage bolts that hold supplemental locks in place. The two most popular are cutting the head of the bolt with the rotary saw, or driving the bolt through the door with a halligan. Lt Christopher Parker from City of New Haven (CT) Squad Co 1 sent in this idea for a simple prop to practice either technique. The prop is a simple stand that “clamps” a scrap metal door in place horizontally to allow for a large surface to mount carriage bolts. Once the door is consumed the carriage bolts are loosened to allow the door to be removed and another slid in its place. The stands are only 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide and don’t take up much room when stored. The legs are 5ft 4×4’s with heavy-duty brackets to secure the uprights. The uprights are made from 5ft 4×4’s on one side and 5ft 2×4’s on the other. The bottom “shelf” of the uprights are 3ft 2×4’s with an additional scrap of 2×4 cut into ¼” thickness (see photo below.) The ¼ scrap is simply to make up the difference of the thickness of the door. A piece of ¼” plywood would work just as well and may even be easier to work with. Once the door is clamped in place, simply drill holes and place the sacrificial carriage bolts in place. Wing nuts can be used to prevent the need for any additional tools when clamping the door or adding the carriage bolts. Notice in the first picture that the prop is up against a curb to limit movement (sliding) during use, placing the prop against a building would work the same. This easy to assemble prop can provide some great forcible entry training on a technique that may not often be practiced.
Here is the detailed parts list that can be obtained for well under $100:
(2) 10 foot PT 4x4s
(2) 8 foot 2x4s (plus a 2ft scrap),
(2) 8 inch carriage bolts
(2) 8 inch lag bolts
(4) heavy duty 90 deg brackets
(1) 2×2 sheet of plywood
3 inch deck screws
Michael Rush from Chattanooga (TN) Squad 3 sent in this simple but effective method of storing sawzall blades. They simply took some scrap cardboard and folded in in half to make sleeves to hold the blades, these sleeves are kept in the box with the saw. The cardboard sleeves are covered in duct tape to make them last, and finished with some custom sharpie work to identity the different blades carried. They have found that the cardboard-duct tape combo fits in the sawzall box easily, takes up less space, and is more pliable then using a sleeve made from old fire hose. The nice thing about this method of storage is that the blades can be easily identified when reaching into the box to grab a specific blade. Another benefit is that the entire sleeve of blades and be slipped in the coat pocket of who ever is utilizing the saw, making a mid-cut blade replacement a breeze.
We have made no secrets around here that we are not big believers in PPV, but that discussion in itself could be an entire post. This post is more about equipment, equipment readiness, and the importance of daily equipment checks. Garret Rice from Rowlett (TX) Truck 4 sent in this information of an incident that occurred while performing multi-agency, multi-company drills. During the drill another one of the agencies involved placed a PPV fan at the front door. Once the fan was in operation, the fan suffered catastrophic failure. When the fan blade disintegrated, one of the pieces of the blade broke thru the shroud and hit one of the firefighters in the arm. Fortunately, the firefighter was wearing full PPE, so he did not suffer any injuries. You can see from the photos below the pieces of blade on the bottom of the fan shroud. Upon closer investigation it appears that a bolt got loose from the handle and got sucked into the rotating fan causing the blade to come apart at full velocity. It is worth mentioning that this fan is normally stored on the outside of the rig, secured to the tailboard. Texas undergoes significant temperature swings throughout the year, so the composite blade is constantly expanding and contracting which may (or may not) have been a contributing factor.
With that being said, the importance of equipment readiness needs to be mentioned. All equipment on the rig needs to undergo a daily check, and a comprehensive weekly check at a minimum. When we are checking the equipment we should be much more concerned about the operational readiness of the equipment, then only the simple fact that the equipment is accounted for. When issues are discovered with our equipment we should take it upon ourselves to repair (or see that it gets repaired) in a timely fashion. Leaving equipment in service on the rig that is not 100% operationally ready to go can lead to disaster. Perhaps during the check, the loose bolt would have been discovered, or maybe stress cracks in the blades would have been noticed, or perhaps neither. This could have been a total fluke, or maybe it could have been prevented, we are not trying to point a finger. Either way there is a great learning opportunity here. Equipment stored outside the rig is certainly more subject to failure due to being exposed to the elements. We need to make sure that we are throughly checking all of our equipment all of the time!29 comments
Captain Tim Meister from Charleston (IL) sent in these photos of a hidden playroom they came across on an EMS run. As you can see from the photo, the entrance of the playroom is approximately 3-4 feet off the ground behind a hinged piece of paneling. The overall dimensions of the room were 8′X12′ so even though the room has a low ceiling, it is still nearly 100 square feet in size. The room did not have permanent power but did have a lamp with an extension cord that is plugged in while the kids are playing. These hidden playrooms are much more common then you would suspect, and as you can imagine, will cause us significant issues during a search. Even slight smoke conditions would make this room impossible to find, the small handle on the door, paired with the picture hanging from it would not even make us suspect the presence of the room.
Peter Lee from Maplewood (NJ) sent in these photos of a door they ran into while out conducting some district familiarization.
This style of supplemental lock is becoming increasingly poplar for rear door protection on commercial occupancies. There are a number of different manufacturers that are producing this style lock. From the outside it is obvious that this door not only has a locking mechanism on the handle side, but also some hinge side protection. Another important observation is that it appears that all of the supplemental locks are inline with the handle, none high, none low.
The purpose of the hinge side protection is to keep the uneducated burglar from opening the door from the hinge side, not the educated firefighter. Even though for the outside it looks less substantial, the hinge side is definitely the slower option on forcing this door. Traditional forcible entry technique on the lock side of the door with a property placed halligan is more than likely the quickest and most effective way to force this door.
We have shown doors like this in the past, they are not nearly as intimidating as they look. Be sure to use the website’s search function over in the right sidebar to find some similar doors, or click on the category labeled “outside functions.” The purpose of studying different style doors is so we can better identify and visualize what we are facing when confronted with challenges on the fire ground.3 comments
Captain TJ Underwood from Goldsboro (NC) Fire Department sent in these photos of a recent find on a company inspection. This supplemental lock was found on a department store located in a strip mall. Apparently the store had recently been broken into, so the store owners had a local door company fabricate and install this lock. As you can see from the photo below, the locking mechanism is simply made from galvanized pipe and is designed to pivot into place. Fortunately the presence of the supplemental lock is obvious from the outside due to the visible carriage bolts. Simply cutting into the carriage bolts will defeat the lock, allowing the door to be opened with a simple traditional force to bypass the Mickey Mouse in-handle lock. Plunging the saw straight into the door in an attempt to defeat the supplemental lock will prove to be ineffective due to the distance between the bar and the door, and the limited depth of the blade.
Tim Anderson from Philadelphia Engine 16 sent in his method of storing a fixed blade knife. His setup uses one of the personal sized box lights with shoulder strap. His knife is mounted mid chest and is easy to get to with either hand. As you can see from the photo below, a few zip ties securely hold in knife in place.
Dan Daly from Chicago Fire Department sent in his method of carrying an easily accessible knife. His set-up utilizes a river (or dive) style of knife that is attached to his flashlight with zip ties. Dan rides this light/knife assembly on the chest of his turnout coat. This location ensures the knife is easy to get to at all times. This style knife comes with a hard plastic sheath that locks the knife in place, while still allowing it to be removed with ease. This style knife has one sharp blade, a dull edge, and a dull point that can be used as a small pry bar or even a shove knife. One nice thing about a fixed blade knife is that it is easy to operate with a gloved hand. We have shown a number of cutter ideas here on VentEenterSearch over the years but have not featured many knife set-ups. Knifes and cutters are both great tools to have, they each have a number of different uses an limitations and should both be considered in your personal tool selection.5 comments
Lieutenant Mike Brown from Baltimore City (MD) Truck 15 sent in this photo of his cable cutters. The lanyard is made of tubular webbing that is zip tied onto both handles. The webbing has enough slack to allow for the cutters to fully open. This amount of slack allows the lanyard to hang just outside of the pocket when the cutters are closed and stored.
We have shown various types of cutters and various types of lanyards in the past. The nice thing about this particular lanyard set-up is that pulling on the webbing handle actually closes the cutters. The problem with some other lanyard set-ups is that if the tool is placed head down in the pocket, the handle tends to get caught up in the pocket.
The simple addition of a pair of cutters to your pocket can really help you in a number of situations, most importantly, in an entanglement. There are pros and cons to the different types of cutters that we have shown in the past. Regardless of the style of cutters you prefer, every firefighter should have a least one pair in their pocket, and train on using them in a zero visibility environment.
There have been a few comments about the concern of the webbing handle getting snagged, so we added the photo below to show how Lt. Brown stores the webbing. Just enough to make it simple to grab, not enough to create a significant snag hazard.