Archive for the 'Outside Functions' Category

Padlock Twist

Throwback Thursday post: Original posting date August 20th, 2014.

Our friend Andrew Brassard submitted this video showing the Padlock Twist. A padlocked chain is an extremely common forcible entry situation we may come across. One popular method of defeating this set-up is to try and drive the padlock off the chain by inserting the pike of the halligan into the shackle of the lock, and striking with another tool. However this method is not always the most efficient because the chain tends to act as a shock absorber and absorbs most of the force you are generating into the lock. Another and perhaps more common method is to simply use a saw or bolt cutters to cut the lock… but what if you don’t have a saw on your rig? Or you find yourself operating a long distance from the rig and don’t want to waste time going back to grab a tool?

As you can see in the video, you begin by simply twisting the chain to remove the slack. Once the slack is taken out, you place the forks of the halligan on the shackle of the padlock and keep twisting until the lock fails. The method in the video works really well for both low and medium security padlocks, which are typically the most common we come across due to their low price. The most beneficial part of this method is that it is a single person technique. One common use may be when the outside vent firefighter encounters a chain and padlock when accessing the rear yard at a private dwelling and may only have a hook and halligan to work with.

Knowing how to utilize your tools in a variety of different ways is an essential fireground skill. Simply knowing how to apply the maximum amount of mechanical advantage in different situations will make us more efficient and effective on the fireground.

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Controlling Utilities

Throwback Thursday post: Original posting date June 12th, 2006.

Controlling utilities is an important outside truck function. Regardless if your department uses inside/outside truck teams or not,(or dare I say no truck company at all) outside functions need to happen at every fire. This first picture was from a call my truck company recently ran on. It was in another department’s first due so the arrival of the truck company was delayed. En-route we hear an engine company announce “utilities secure.” Once my truck got on scene we went to work: first job 360 the structure (which should always be done!) and verify utilities. During the 360, it was noticed that the utilities were still operational! It was pretty easy to notice, most of the lights were still on. Moral of the story: When multiple breakers/shunts/switches or what ever are present… Shut them all off!

Apparently this building owner wants his structure to burn down. Try getting these utilities when the dumpsters are full and heavy. -Jimm-

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Forks and the Mortise

When learning forcible entry the discussion of where to place the forks of your Halligan will inevitably come up. Your options are above the lock, below the lock or between the locks if there’s more than one. All options have their place but there is one particular type of locking mechanism where placing the fork in between the locks won’t work. Mortise locks (as pictured below) have been around since the 1800’s.

These locks get their name from the mortise or pocket that is required to be cut into the door for installation. They’re commonly found in older buildings, commercial buildings, high end residential or any place that requires a durable lock that will hold up to thousands of operations.

Sizing up a door for a mortised lock is difficult and has made me lean towards always placing my forks either above or below the locks and never between. If you are a strong believer in placing your forks between the locks then you should know that mortise locks normally don’t have escutcheon plates that are offset from the door more than a ¼”. This is because the lock cylinders are threaded into the mortised guts of the lock and this requires the installer to be able to spin the lock into position. Bored Cylinder locks are held together with screws and can be offset from the door greater distances.

If you haven’t figured out why you can’t place your forks in between the locks from the pictures above then take a closer look at an example of a door forced by Orlando (FL) Fire Department’s Tower 11 B shift crew.

Photos by: JJ Cassetta

This door had to be forced to allow smoke to ventilate from the upper floor of a hospital. It was inward swinging and set into a metal frame with concrete walls. As you can see if the forks were placed between the locks they would end up running into the deadbolt. This would prove to be very frustrating in smoky conditions and is the reason you should stay away from placing your Halligan there. Another option is pulling the cylinder using k-tool or other lock pulling tool. The mortised lock is a durable lock but the cylinder is only held in with two small set screws.

Jeremy Rubottom is currently a Firefighter with the Orlando (FL) Fire Department, assigned to the Heavy Rescue 1. Jeremy has been in the fire service for a total of 15 years. Prior to joining OFD, he was a Firefighter for the St. Johns County (FL) Fire Department for 5 years. He is an instructor at Valencia Fire Rescue Institute, working with the Truck Company Operations and Special Operations programs. Jeremy is a Georgia Smoke Diver and has taught at the Orlando Fire Conference for several years. He is also a H.O.T. Instructor for VentEnterSearch, LLC.


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Double-Wide Addition

Joseph Dorsette, from Broward County Sheriff’s Office (FL), recently submitted his findings that were discovered during an alarm at a residence. While conducting a 360 he noticed the single-wide mobile home behind the actual alarm had been modified into a double-wide, with an extra addition.

The existing single-wide mobile home appeared modified, the car port was closed in with a lightweight wall which was constructed of half inch plywood, sprayed with knock-down and painted. Three windows were added as well as a satellite dish, this made it appear to be the original double-wide.

The second modification was an 8 x 8 metal shed possibly used as an additional bedroom or general floor space. A hole had to be created in the rear of modified car port and then the shed butted up against the home. Strips of aluminum, pieces of painted plywood, and some type of adhesive were added to make it fit against the home. Also, a hole was cut into the rear of the shed for a window shaker and a second satellite dish. It is unknown if the owner or occupants ran electric to the additions or possibly utilized extension cords for power. Also unknown is the layout of the inside, if the shed doors were left in place or removed and if an interior door was used and possibly subleased.

Another interesting observation, was the shed and the right side of the mobile home (looking at it from the pictured angle) were not connected internally but connected externally with a small piece of plywood and the aluminum panels from the ground

Joseph was not able to make contact with the occupant and all windows were boarded up from hurricane Irma. He stated that “As an officer this type of addition to an addition can hinder several aspects of our operations from interior attack to search and rescue.”

Other topic this post brings up are boarded up windows. This time of year it is common for hurricane prone areas to have a large increase in board up windows. Hurricane board ups, although typically not difficult to defeat, can present entry and egress issues if not prepared. If you work in a hurricane prone area, survey your first due during this time and build multiple plans of attack.

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Look Close

Every day is a training day, and every call is a pre-fire plan… Captain Shawn Royall from Charlotte (NC) Ladder Company 23 sent in theses photos that prove this lesson. Have you gone to a medical call or public assist at a building like this in your first due? Did you just take care of the patient and leave, or did you take advantage of the time you were there? Did you position the rig like you wouls if the building was on fire? Did you at least discuss where and why you’d position like that on a fire call? Did you take the time to walk around the structure? If you did, this is what you’d find…

From the street entrance, what do you observe from your initial size up?


Two floors, apartment building, pitched lightweight truss roof, daytime and cars in parking lot, ordinary construction, unimpeded access to the building and roof.

As you walk closer to the building down the right side, unseen from the street….


You have three floors, with one being below grade….

And then things start to really develop as you walk to the rear….


Now its 4 floors, a rear parking area with more cars, multiple units, and balcony’s with no egress and a business that could possibly have multiple occupants.

And finally….


Access problems for apparatus due to grade incline and power lines.

As you can tell, this building is much more than it originally appeared. Discovering this for the first time on the fireground is not a situation we should ever find ourselves in. Nothing will ever replace the knowledge that pre-planning and knowing your first due will provide.

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Know When to Say When

Dan Rinaldi from Providence Fire Department sent in this door he recently had the pleasure of forcing on a run. Upon initial inspection, it appears to be a normal outward swinging metal door with no external hardware. Initially the door forced easy toward the top, but met some resistance down low.


Upon closer inspection, the bottom edge of the door can be seen covered up to the hinge in asphalt. This obviously was preventing the door from swinging open. At this point, there are two main options, taking the hinge side, or finding another door. A quick peek inside made it clear which option they should choose. In this case, another door was located and forced without a problem. Like any good firefighter who is truly into the craft of firefighting, Dan had to go inspect the door closer after the call was complete. What he found inside validated that finding another entry point in this case was certainly the best option.


From the inside it became clear why it didn’t matter to the building owner that the asphalt was preventing the door from swinging open; They obviously did not want this door to be used as an entry point. They welded a frame of one-inch rebar to the building behind the door.




Sometimes the best decision we could make when forcing a door is to make the decision to stop forcing the door we are currently working on and finding a better option. This decision is extremely hard for many of us because we don’t want to let the first door “beat us.” We have to constantly keep our objective in mind. The objective is to gain entry in the fastest method possible. It is without a doubt that given enough time, we should be able to get through every door we ever come across. The truly disciplined firefighter knows when to say when, and abandon the first door and find a better option.

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Problem with that Pitch

Engineer Caleb Eiriksson from Fort Walton Beach (FL) Truck Co. 6 sent in some photos of how he and the Truck 6 crew recently spent an afternoon out in their first due. They wanted to come up with options of how they could utilize a roof ladder on a large steep pitched roof. Obviously, being able to get the truck into position would eliminate the need for these options, but they wanted to see what other options they could find.



The first thing they tried was using a 24’ extension ladder and conjunction with a 16’ roof ladder. Which is traditionally their go-to option when dealing with most residential roofs in their area. Due to the pitch and height of the roof, this option was not able to reach the peak. This roof was too steep to walk on, and there were no valleys present to aide in the assent to the peak.


The next option they tested was using the same 24′ extension and 16′ roof combo. This time they matched the angle of the roof pitch with the 24 footer and then made a transition to the 16’ roof ladder. As you can see from the photos, this option got them closer, but still came up short of the peak. This option would certainly work on a shorted height roof with this same pitch. It’s worth mentioning that the bed section of the ladder is facing out (up) and the fly section is lying flat on the roof. Using the ladder is this fashion eliminates the ladder bouncing as you ascend the ladder.


The next option they tested ended up being the winner for this particular roof: a 35’ extension and a 16’ roof ladder. By matching the angle of the roof, they essentially made the individual ladders into one long ladder. This combination proved to be a very stable working platform. Again, as mentioned earlier, the bed section of the ladder is facing in (resting on the roof) and the fly section is facing out to minimize the ladder bounce. They found the best way to get the ladder in place was to rest the beam on the roof, extend the ladder, then rotate into the bed down position on the roof. Once the 35′ is in position, simply ascend the 35′, and place the 16′ to the peak to get the job done.


While this might not be an everyday roof tactic, it got the crews out into their first due, and they worked trough a challenge together. They worked through the challenge in a non-emergency situation, and would now be better prepared to deploy it for real if the need arose.


A special thanks to Engineer Eiriksson and the Truck 6 crew (Captain Mosley, Firefighter Corrigan, Firefighter Dowd, and Firefighter Shalduha) for thinking out of the box and taking the time to share what they found.

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Emergency Roof Bail-Outs

Engineer Caleb Eiriksson from Fort Walton Beach (FL) Truck 6 sent in these photos of some recent emergency roof bail outs he and the rest of C watch trained on. The idea here is simple, if you are on a roof and cut off from your means of egress and had to get off the roof in a hurry, how would you do it? Obviously we hope to never find ourselves in this situation, but it’s something worth considering. Even if any of these techniques are not something you’d be comfortable with, you should at least have a plan of how you plan on getting off a roof in a hurry without a ladder. It’s important to point out that in these photos, they were doing a simple body wrap with the escape rope simulating that no harness or other personal escape system was available to the trapped member.


The first method pictured is a NY roof hook and a rope bag with a carabineer attached. You could pull a ridge vent and exposing the decking/trusses, tongue-and-groove boards or make a purchase point in the plywood. Next, you insert the 45 degree angle of the hook as an anchor. Then place the carabineer over the working end of the roof hook. Finally, a half hitch is placed towards the middle of the hook. The half hitch will keep the hook pulled down towards the roof decking during the decent.


The next method utilizes a roof ladder. If you had a roof ladder with the hooks deployed over the ridge, simply pull out your rope, wrap around a rung and hook the carabineer back on itself. Of course if the roof ladder was long enough, you could just lower it over the side and climb down the ladder. Let’s not over think this…


Another option uses the halligan. Simply tie a figure eight on a bight or use a carabineer. Slide your figure eight on a bight or carabineer over one of the side of the fork. Next, run the rope around the pike and back on its self. Now place a half hitch towards the middle or lower portion of the shaft towards the shoulder. Once the rope is secured to the tool, drive the halligan into the roof .


You could simplify it even further and just tie a clove hitch around the shaft of the halligan just above the shoulder of the forks.


Caleb and the crew wanted to point out they didn’t come up with these techniques, they just wanted to share their photos and highlight the training they did. There are an almost endless amount of ways to quickly egress from a roof if the situation ever arises. Take the opportunity to discuss it with your crew and come up with your company’s plan. If nothing else, take the time to talk about how you would prevent ever having to egress from the roof. A special thanks to Caleb, FF Corrigan, FF Dowd, Engineer Kempf, Captain Morgan and FF Shalduha for sharing the photos.

***The safety police just called and wanted us to remind you to always use a belay when training, the belay was not shown in these photos to simplify the visual.

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Free Prop

Lieutenant Jordan Samson from Englewood (OH) submitted this simple and cheap (ie: free) thru-the-lock prop. He and Andy Zumberger put it together in less than one hour. It was made with a scrap 2×6 and a bunch of donated locks from local hardware stores. The purpose of the prop is to demonstrate the inner workings of various locking mechanisms. Labels were created to make sure everyone knew the proper names for each style of lock.


This simple and free prop is useful when reviewing or introducing thru-the-lock techniques to new or inexperienced members.




Cancel the Engine

We are sure this video is going to make its rounds on the Internet. At this point we don’t know much about it other than it’s from Bellerose Terrace NY. Judging by the names on the coats, we are guessing it’s Floral Park FD. We already know that many people have taken exception to the lack of SCBA use during entry. We could also make an argument to leave the building sealed up until the water can was ready to go. However, we are not here to throw stones, lets use this video to discuss the effectiveness of the water can. In this instance it appears that the Truck Company (without water) arrived ahead of the Engine Company. This could happen in any city in the world. Even if your Truck Company carries water, it could have been a Chief’s buggy that arrived on scene first. For that very reason, EVERY VEHICLE THAT HAS FIRE DEPARTMENT MARKINGS SHOULD HAVE A WATER CAN! We can show up on scene and do nothing, or we can at least slow the forward progress of the fire. We are the fire department and that’s what people expect, regardless of the vehicle we show up in!

As demonstrated in the video, the water can works! Every firefighter should be Properly Trained on how to efficiently and effectively use the water can. We are professionals and should know more about this essential piece of Fire Department equipment… It’s a lot more than just P.A.S.S.

We have always been advocates of the water can. In the hands of a well trained firefighter, the can will put out a tremendous amount of fire.


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