Archive for the 'Props' Category

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.




Storefront Simulator

In our last post we demonstrated how to maximize the training potential in an acquired structure with a metal door. Click here To see that post. Keeping with the acquired structure topic, in this video we’ll cover how to convert a glass storefront into a realistic and reusable training prop. This glass storefront prop is a great way to rotate a large amount of crews through a scenario involving cutting the throw of an Adams-Rite style lock. The scenario involves creating a gap with a Halligan and a rotary saw to force entry into the building. You can also demonstrate and practice creating a gap with other methods using a simple wedge or axe. This prop is quick and easy to reset and utilizes cheap and readily available consumables.

One of the most important benefits of this drill is that is gives crews the opportunity to build their confidence and understand the pros and cons of this style of forcible entry. It also provides you the opportunity to have the discussion on the importance of maintaining control of the flow path by keeping the glass storefront intact.


Cut and Force Post

Captain Chris Garniewicz from Bluffton Township (SC) Truck 375 sent in this cut and force prop that they recently put together. The idea was to create a compact prop that could be kept in the bay to used on rainy days and still be easily transported to be used at the burn building. The post is made from 6” x 6” x 6’ lumber and attached to a 4’ x 4’ base. The post can easily be removed to facilitate moving and storing the prop. Each side of the post contains a different skill station. Side one is a rebar cut tree: Side two for padlocks and chains; Side three is for cylinder pulling; and Side four is for hinge pulling.




The lock pulling side (side three) contains custom milled bronze cylinders. Bronze was chosen to prevent damaging the lock pulling tools. The hinge pulling side (side four) contains homemade hinges made from flat steel and rebar. As you can see both the lock pulling and the hinge pulling props use wooden dowels for frangible resistance. In addition, both sides also have plate steel to protect the post.





Building Construction Prop


Bud Henkels from the Montgomery County (PA) Fire Academy sent in this amazing building construction prop that he built for his Firefighter Awareness to Wood Frame Construction class. The focal point of the presentation is this scale model (1 ” = 1′) that shows the students wood frame construction from foundation to ridgepole.


On one side it incorporates modern day platform framing and on the other side, later day balloon framing. Having both different construction types present make it easy to show the differences with each style. The prop includes the ability to add a real time smoke conditions that demonstrate how differently smoke and fire can travel through each type of construction. While the prop is certainly a major part of it, the program also includes a 3-hour power point program that focuses on building terminology and other building constriction methods.



Bud’s previous experience as a carpenter and contractor certainly shows through with this quality craftsmanship. Wile making a quality prop like this will certainly take some time; it doesn’t have to cost much money. There is a good chance that someone around your firehouse has the talent and ability to make something similar. This prop, sitting on a table in the firehouse or training room can be referred to during many formal classes, and even more importantly those informal kitchen table classes. Instead of doing some third grade quality drawing on the dry erase board; pointing something out on a prop like this would certainly enhance the learning opportunity.


Multi-Function Prop


Christopher Benson from Greeley (CO) Engine 4 sent in this low cost multi-function prop. The prop is made mostly from 4×4 and 2×4 lumber that was scavenged from around the station. The prop features a forcible entry door, window bar props, a window sash, and a wall section.


The door can be forced as an inward or outward facing door. It also features a padlock and hasp to practice defeating them as well. One of the window door props is just for observation and discussion of bars and their attachment methods, and the other can actually be forced by defeating pieces of furring strips. (Chris wanted to be sure to thank Brian Brush from West Metro (CO) for the window prop idea.) The window sash has a replaceable piece of wood as the sash so it can be defeated prior to the entering the window.


Below that, the wall studs are placed 16 inch on center to practice SCBA low profile maneuvers. The rope simulates an entanglement from electrical wires and adds to learning opportunities. Real segments of electrical wire can also be strung through the prop to allow for cutting of the wire as an option to free from the entanglement. Since most of the materials were scavenged, this low cost prop can provide a number of different quick drills without even leaving the firehouse.



Door Stand

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


Roll Down and Padlock Prop

Jerry Smith from Baltimore City Truck Company 15 sent in these photos of a new training prop being used by Truck 15. Jerry points out that they got the idea for this prop from the members of FDNY Tower Ladder 58. They prop is intended to allow members to review different styles of roll down gates, and the different locks that secure them. The prop not only allows members to discuss how to attack these locks and but also to get their hands on the locks to see how the locking mechanisms work.

The prop has two working sides. The front side is mainly for show and tell. The members can manually work the locks to see how they operate. This side is also used to allow members to manually force locks with the duckbill lock breaker. The front side contains a total of eight different styles of locks, all of which are commonly found throughout Truck 15’s area.

In addition to the locks, the prop also contains the two most common styles of roll down gates. The first style is the newer flat surface style roll down, and the second is the older style curved slat roll down. Toward the bottom of the prop, the slats are pre-cut the slats so members can slide the slats apart to see how the roll down is held together. Obviously a better understanding of how something is constructed provides useful knowledge on how it can be defeated. There is also a hole in the slats so members can practice the extremely effective method of pulling the slats out with the halligan.

The rear side of the prop is designed to be the cutting or working side of the prop. They attached excess roll-down gate material so members can practice cutting the slats with the saw. In addition, there are three lock cutting stations: the first is for hockey puck locks, and the other two are simple padlock hasp assemblies. Finally, the prop has metal cutting station that utilizes pipe to allow practice of both horizontal and vertical cutting. This simply addition to the prop allows members to practice and prefect operating the saw at different angles.
This prop is a simple yet effective way to provide valuable training to members. The prop is easy to build and at a relativity low cost. The beauty of this prop is that it can simply sit against the wall in the apparatus bay for those impromptu company level training sessions. Just being able to pull the prop out and review techniques with members provides an worth while training session, even during days when weather would limit other training options.


Triple Roof Prop

Aaron Foster from DCFD sent in these photos of three different roof props they have at the DCFD training facility. The first is flat roof, the second is a 6/12 pitch, and the third is a 12/12 pitch. The frames of the props are made with doubled up 2×10’s. The joists are made with 2×6’s (with 2×4’s on top) attached to the 2×10 frame with joist hangers. The 2×4’s are on top as sacrificial pieces that can be easily (and cheaply) replaced after someone runs the saw too deep. The props are mounted to telephone poles that are buried into the ground. The cut surfaces are simply sheets of plywood that can quickly and easily be removed and replaced after each training exercise. The painted areas of the prop show the “do not cut” areas, and ladder placement on the pitched roofs. These props are an extremely simple and effective way to teach (and perfect) saw technique. It allows for a large group of people to observe the cutting operation to maximize on the learning opportunity.

The photo below shows the entire frame without the sheeting, you can see that the sacrificial 2x4s are not yet in place.

The picture below was taken with the prop upside down on the bay floor. Its just a closeup of how the 2×6 fits in the joist hanger with the 2×4 on top (actually on bottom in this case since the prop is upside down)


Buffalo MAYDAY Training

Lieutenant Ronald K Bourgeois from Buffalo (NY) Engine 1 sent in this video of a MAYDAY prop they are using in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the motivation for the prop and annual training came from the tragic loss of two of Buffalo’s Bravest on August 24, 2009. Lt. Chip McCarthy and FF Jonathon Croom both fell from the first floor into the basement while searching for a reported person trapped in the structure. (We recently received some additional information from BFD about this training. The training was in the works well before the tragic LODD. The planning and development of this training actually began in January of 2009, before the LODD incident, not as a reaction to the incident.)

The purpose of this prop and training evolution is to build confidence and promote self rescue techniques. The portion of the prop shown in the video is part of a confined space maze that ends with the blindfolded firefighter falling through the floor. The collapsible floor section is activated by an instructor pulling on a rope, removing the hinged floor section’s support. Once the floor section collapses, the firefighter falls into a pit filled with foam. The pads end up surrounding the firefighter making movement a bit more difficult, similar to having debris from the collapse. The prop also contains a window at the end of the foam pit so the firefighter can practice self rescue form a high window. The prop cost was roughly $450, and was constructed with 2×4’s and ½” plywood. The trap doors were hinged with three heavy duty hinges, with a lip underneath for support. A hinged 2×4 holds the doors up and a rope is the trip mechanism.

Unfortunately, we cannot take back any of the LODD that occur in our line of work, but we can learn from them and try to prevent them from occurring again. Training evolutions like this are an important component to learning from them.



Window Prop

Captain Dale Pekel from Wauwatosa Fire (WI) and Elm Grove Fire (WI) sent in this informative video of a simple but effective training prop he has developed. The prop is simple to build, easy to set-up and break down, and doesn’t cost more than $200. The prop has a number of different configurations that allow it to be changed up to make some of the drills more challenging. Take a look at the video to see the various different techniques that can be practiced on this prop. This prop would be useful for performing quick drills around the firehouse that can be incorporated into more full scale drills at a later date. It would also be handy to have set-up at the firehouse during inclement weather that makes training outside a challenge.


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