Window Punch

Martin Patino from Flower Mound (TX) sent in this slick idea to ensure a window punch is always readily available on a MVA. Every one of us has probably has a traditional window (center) punch fall apart, or freeze up at just the wrong time. This simple idea is accomplished by adding a weld bead onto a pair of cable cutters. Once the bead is on the tool, a little time with a hand file will allow the bead to take shape into a point creating the window punch.

Cable cutters are a handy tool to have on MVA’s to cut battery cables, and even defeat the stubborn wiring harness when removing a door. This simple idea makes sure you always have a functional window punch handy without adding any weight or taking up any additional room in your pocket.

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Force Bag

Dave Weinman from Frederick County (MD) sent in this photo and description of their “force bag.” The bag becomes a one stop shop for both destructive combat forcible entry operations and routine through the lock and non-emergency entry operations. They routinely grab the force bag and the irons (they use the popular 8lb force axe and a tuned up pro bar) or a rotary saw, resulting in very few doors that they are not able to defeat. 


 
The kit consists of a Hydra-Ram and its standard bag with the pictured tools added to perform a number of different operations.  In addition to the Hydra-Ram and mallet, (which may or may not be necessary when carrying the irons) they have included the following tools: a modified channel lock tool with key tools in the handles for the removal of rim locks, a K tool in case the rim lock needs some extra encouragement, an additional key tool to take care of the stem hole or recessed latch like those found on Adams Rite commercial locks.  For less fortified doors they have also included: a bucket handle tool for the opening of double glass doors with push bar openers, and a shove knife for making quick work of unsecured knob locks.  A vice grip with chain is also included for lock cutting operations, or door control. The bag is finished out with wood wedges for capturing progress during one man forcible entry or for securing open a forced door.
 
The bag is fairly comprehensive and addresses the common forcible entry needs they have identified in their first due area. The strapped carry bag slung over the shoulder allows the member assigned to FE to carry the irons in one hand while maintaining.
 

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Interior Security Bars

Captain Rick Cravero from Tamarac (FL) sent in these photos of security bars on the inside of windows from a local neighborhood. When the windows are shut, the bars appear to look more like french window panes instead of security bars. One thing that may give it away is that in this particular case, is that not many jalousie windows had french panes.

These particular bars are simply held in place by some self-tapping screws into the original window frame. These bars may slow us down a little, but shouldn’t be much of a match to a determined firefighter. Depending on how the window frame is secured (how many screws were used), pulling on the bars may remove the entire window frame. If the window frame is well secured, then inserting either the fork or the adz of the halligan in between the window frame and the security bar assembly to separate the bars from the window frame would speed up the removal. Once the frame of the bar assembly is weakened and separated from the frame in a few places, the entire bar assembly should be able to be “hinged” away from the window opening. The rotary saw always remains an option, but believe it or not, the hand tools may end up being quicker.

The main thing to consider when faced with bars is to remove them early! Waiting until conditions deteriorate, or worse, when a fellow firefighter needs to bail out is not what we should be doing. Trying to minimize damage to the structure by waiting to remove them may actually cause more damage in the end. Simply open it up, and get the job done!

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MVA Tool Kit

Mike Terzo Jr. from Rush (NY) sent in this kit of tools he deploys at motor vehicle accidents. The kit includes the following: seatbelt cutter, window punch, duct tape, Ajax strip and peek tool, vice grip adjustable wrench, yellow disposal blanket, length of webbing with carabineer and a 5/16 wrench. The tools are used primarily to disconnect the battery, cut seatbelts, break windows, check under the interior trim for possible air bags or high voltage power, door control, and patient protection.

The purpose of carrying all of the tools in one bag is to ensure that each of these tools is available at every auto accident. The benefit of having all of the commonly used tools in one place allows quick access when the kit is placed on the hood or roof of the vehicle. An additional benefit is that it allows firefighters to carry less equipment in their own pockets. These kits can be made on the cheap, and can be customized based on individual preferences.

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Maybe it’s the Decking…

Here is a great video of a close call on the roof. Forest Park (OH) firefighters were performing a vertical vent on a residential fire, when the decking started to fail. The firefighter knew enough to spread out and was caught and SAVED by the trusses. Huh, imagine that, the decking is what failed, and the trusses are what saved him… Maybe those trusses aren’t so dangerous after all. Maybe the fire service should be mad at the cheap and thin OSB decking instead of the trusses… Kudos goes to Forest Park for getting the roof, and knowing what to do in case things go bad. Training made the difference!

Video from WKRC Local 12 Cincinnati

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Induction Loop Trick

There are a number of different methods to gain access to a closed gate. There are a few commercial products that property owners may have installed to make sure the fire department can easily access the property without damaging the gate. These products include: siren activation, emergency light activation, and even radio activation. However, each of these have to be installed properly and maintained regularly in order to remain operational. We have to have other options available to us to open the gates quickly when the commercial options are not present, or out of service.

Fortunately for us, there is another option that works on a majority of gates. Have you ever noticed that most gates open to let you out of the gated area simply by driving up to it? Have you ever wondered how that works? It’s called an induction loop, it is an insulated electrically conducting loop that is installed in the pavement. It can been seen as the lines cut into the ground in the area of the gate. The automatic gate opener monitors the inductance in the wire, and when it senses a change of the inductance, it opens the gate. We have the ability to easily trick the gate into thinking there is a car present, resulting in the gate opening. Any large metal object that can be placed on the inside and outside the loop at the same time will activate the gate. Typically there will be two induction loops installed near the gate. the first (or furthest from the gate) is to let the gate know that a car needs the gate opened. The second (closer to the gate) is to let the gate know that the car has cleared the gate, and the gate can close.

As seen above, the ground pad from the Truck can be slid under the gate with a hook. Once the ground pad is slid into position, the gate will open. As mentioned earlier, it has to go over the induction loop that is the furthest away from the gate.

Just so we don’t make the guys on the engine feel left out, the photo below shows a 14 foot ladder being used to accomplish the same thing.

One tip to keep in mind, is that once the gate is activated the hook or ladder need to be removed from the path of the opening gate. Quickly removing the hook (once the pad is in place) or pushing the ladder all the way under the gate takes care of the issue.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to keep the gate open for the remainder of the units responding to the alarm? A slick idea is to keep a piece of metal in place over the induction loop. Since we probably don’t want to leave the ground pad behind, or the ladder where it will get run over, we can simply use another object. A small piece of aluminum (like an old parking sign) can be placed on the rig for this exact purpose. It is much lighter and easier to put in place than the outrigger pad, and no-one will get pissed when its lost or run over.

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Four Cut Roll Up


Chris Johnson from Concord (NH) sent in this writeup on using the four cut method for opening roll up doors. There are a number of different methods that can be utilized to defeat roll up doors, and each have there pros and cons. This particular method creates a large opening while maintaining the ability to control the door. Click here to see the full write up on this technique. We made the write-up into a downloadable pdf so you can print it out for a kitchen table discussion, or for some OJT (On the John Training.)

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Six!

It’s that time of the year again, it’s hard to believe that time goes by so quickly. Today is VES’s Birthday! Six years ago this website was created as a neutral, unbiased and un-intimidating medium were we could share ideas, methods, and techniques of this great profession. We truly believe that Truck Company functions are an art, and have become The Lost Art of The Fire Service. It is imperative that we protect this art for generations to come. The fire service is changing right before our eyes, we need to take it back! The avenue to a safer fire service is by being proactive rather than reactive in both our training and our tactics. We need to bring back the aggressive yet safe attitude to the fire service, in order to continue to protect each other on the fire ground. This can only be accomplished through sharing the knowledge and educating each other.

We can honestly say this site has been much more of a success then we could have ever possibly imagined. This website was started with the intentions of sharing some information on the local level. Thanks to each of you, it quickly became so much more than that. We have gotten emails, comments, and material from people all over the world! The overwhelming success of this site would not be possible without each and every one of you. No amount of thanks could possibly be enough. It is because of you, our loyal readers, that this site is what it is!

Since VES started, there have been so many other sites that have come and gone, but we are still here! Thank you for the contined support, you all rock!

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From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat

Jimm Walsh, owner and webmaster here at vententersearch.com will be presenting From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat on Saturday, April 28th 2012 in Greenville, NC. The class is being sponsored by Pitt Community College. This extremely motivational and informative class will focus on much more than basic leadership principles. While there are some basics of leadership that are applicable for any rank, this class will cover some specific principles for each rank from the bottom to the top. Click here to download the class flier.

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FDIC 2012

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting a class titled Garden Apartment Fire Challenges at FDIC 2012. The class will on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 from 10:30 AM-12:15 in room 109-110.

Here is a short description of the class:

The focus is on the necessary command fireground functions and the roles of company officers and firefighters in mitigating a fire in a garden apartment structure. Discussions cover the unique challenges garden apartments present in a fire, apparatus placement, accessing the complex, understanding the construction type, ventilation possibilities, hoseline stretches, personnel needs, search priorities, and selecting the proper tactics.

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