Archive for the 'Tips' Category

Homemade J-Tool

“Ferg” from Sacramento City (CA) Truck 2 sent in this awesome idea on how to create a simple J-tool for non-destructive forcible entry. It even gets some bonus points for being “green” since it almost counts as recycling or reusing. This idea utilizes the leftover political signs that can be found in every dumpster this time of year. The two most common types of signs have an “H” shape, and a “U” shaped galvanized wire frame. The easiest to use for this purpose are the U shape since it already has one of the required bends, but an H shaped one can also be utilized with some additional work.

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Rather than throwing that “U” shaped one in the trash, tear the sign off, and take that frame over to the workbench. Place the frame in the vice, and begin bending it into shape. Before you commit to the exact size, you may want to consider what will fit in your bunker pant pocket. Use a hacksaw or saws-all to cut the excess material off. You may even want to file the edges down to make it real pro, your gear quartermaster will thank you….

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The completed tool will look like the photo below. For the discussion, we will consider the side with the extra bend the “working end.” This tool is designed for use on a double door with panic hardware. For the traditional panic bar style, you use the working end to “hook” the bar of the locking device. It simply opens by pulling the bar toward you.

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Rotating the tool into place and placing the working end on the locking mechanism can also be used to manipulate the push pad style of panic hardware. Again, once the tool is in place, pulling on the tool will simulate someone pushing the pad from the inside and open the door.

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A wood wedge makes a nice companion for the tool to widen the gap between some doors, or even just to keep the weather striping out of your way. While you’re out hunting for signs, keep the rest of the crew in mind. Make enough for everyone, and throw a few extras on the rig for good measure.

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Like with many other non-destructive methods of forcible entry, this probably won’t be your go-to method on a working fire. However, options like this can simplify your life when chasing down sell-of-smoke type calls, and automatic fire alarm activations. With some practice, you’d be surprised how many different types of locking mechanisms can be manipulated and defeated with this tool. You simply need to take the time to Identify and Visualize what you are trying to defeat, and outsmart the locking mechanism.

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Gas Leak: Grab n’ Goes

Every community is different in regards to their natural gas line infrastructure. Some departments have a large number of gas leaks and as a result have become very capable of handling the leaks prior to the arrival of the gas company.

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Here is a quick and easy way of organizing your gas leak equipment. Its makes sizing up and grabbing the appropriate sized equipment a breeze. As you know from previous post here on VES we are all about organizing and carrying your equipment in the most efficient manner possible. Reducing the number of times we have to run back to the rig for more equipment during incidents has become somewhat of an art.

These Grab n’ Goes are made up of small sections of poly gas pipe. The diameter of the pipe is written on the pipe for easy identification. This helps make sure that everyone is communicating the correct size pipe when calling for additional equipment. The pipe section simply has wooden wedges inserted into the end, and a band clamp around the circumference. Besides just making the wedges and band clamps easier to carry, the Grab n’ Go can also be used to “size-up” the pipe size as shown in the photo below.

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The information included in this post is only applicable to departments that are adequately trained and operate aggressively on natural gas leaks. The information contained in this post is purely supplemental, and should not be applied without appropriate training for responding to natural gas emergencies.

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Outboard Saw Conversion

The rotary saw equipped with a metal cutting blade is an extremely important tool for us to have in our forcible entry cache. There are a handful of modifications and conversions that we can apply to the saw to make it preform more efficient. The outboard saw conversion is one of the simplest and most effective modifications to make the saw a more versatile forcible entry tool. The outboard saw conversion involves moving the saw blade assembly to the right (or outboard) side of the saw body.

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Have you ever tried cutting hinges on a outward opening metal door? Have you ever encountered a frameless glass door with a mortise lock that secures into the floor? The rotary saw is certainly a viable option for both of these situations. When utilizing a non-modified (stock) saw, it is difficult to line the saw blade perfectly perpendicular to a hinge or floor lock that is being defeated. As a result, the blade ends up cutting at an angle and tends to more likely bind up. The outboard saw conversion puts the blade flush with the saw’s body, allowing it to cut easy in tight places saving time and energy. Another situation where it may be beneficial to have an outboard saw is when cutting locks in recessed doorways.

If you have more then one metal cutting rotary saw on the rig, you should consider applying the outboard conversion to one of them. The conversion is still a viable option even if you only carry one metal cutting saw on your rig. The outboard saw gives us versatility while not compromising any other functions. The outboard saw still operates the same as a stock saw. There is however a noticeable change in how the saw “feels” to the operator since changing the location of the blade effects the gyroscopic effect on the saw. It is important to make sure everyone has operated the saw in a training setting before using it on an actual emergency run.

The photos below show the benefit when cutting a hinge with an outboard saw. The first photo shows an unmodified saw, and the second shows the outboard saw. You can clearly see how the outboard saw cuts the hinge at a better, more perpendicular angle.

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The next photos show how the outboard saw cuts the floor lock. The first photo shows an unmodified saw, and the second shows the outboard saw. Again, you can clearly see how the outboard saw cuts the lock at a better, more perpendicular angle.

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The outboard conversion can be accomplished with just a few quick and easy steps. All you need is the scrench that came with your saw, or a flat-head screwdriver and ratchet. Click here to download a complete step-by-step guide to perform the outboard saw conversion in PDF format.

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Padlock Twist

Our friend Andrew Brassard from Brotherhood Instructors LLC 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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Color-Coded Cribbing

Assist Chief. Dennis Baker Jr. from Baden (PA) sent in these pictures of how they set up their cribbing. He made sure to point out that Lt. Tim Firich was actually the one who should get the credit for the idea. They color-coded their cribbing based on length. The ones pictured happen to be 18” 6×6’s. As you can see in the picture below the paint color actually goes about an inch onto the side of the cribbing as well. This little addition makes it easy to visually see from a distance that the cribbing tower is square.

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The handles are 1 inch webbing cut at 16 inches long and secured with a fender washer and 1 1/4″ wood screw. They overlapped the webbing and used a soldering pencil to burn the whole for the screw. This will prevent the webbing from unraveling near the screw hole.

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The idea of color-coding could be implemented a few different ways: either length or lumber size. Even wedges could be coded with different color paint, or even a different color of webbing. For example if you painted your 4×4’s red, the 4×4 wedges could also be red, but with a different color webbing. The important thing is not of over think it. Come up with a standardized marking system that works for you and your agency.

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A Welcomed Butt

In today’s fire service we continually have to do more with less. As firefighters we have the mindset to improvise, adapt, and overcome problems we encounter. Unfortunately, we are now forced to accomplish this with fewer personnel on scene. To overcome this we need to look for clever ways to accomplish certain routine tasks. We often find ourselves having to throw ladders on concrete or similar slick surfaces and work off of them. How many videos have you seen where the ladder slips out from under a firefighter as they climb? Has it even happen to you? We all know no one wants to be the guy butting a ladder during a fire, and we certainly can’t afford to take someone away from performing more important tasks on the fireground. How about using the doormat found at the front door of a home? Yes the one that says “Welcome”! The doormat can be placed under the butt of your ladder allowing the ladder to grip the concrete better. These mats are commonly found at most doors leading into a home or commercial properties. Look for anything that may add some friction between the butts and the concrete. With less personnel on scene we need to be on the look out for things that will make us more efficient and finding a way to butt your own ladder is just one of them.

The nice thing about these types of options is that they still allow the ladder to be moved in a hurry when needed. There would be nothing worse then to see a brother or sister in trouble at a window and to be delayed by untying the ladder. Anything that can get the ladder raised quicker or moved quicker is a good thing!

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Induction Loop Video

A few years ago we published a post titled Induction Loop Trick. In the post we wrote about how and why induction loops worked. We thought it would be appropriate to post a video demonstrating the trick in action. We even introduce a few options not mentioned in the original post. Depending on how the gate in installed, this trick may not work in every instance, however it’s good to keep in mind when trying to gain access to a gated building. It’s tricks like this that set the Truck Company apart from the rest!

 

 

 

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Locate and Confine

After the Governor’s Island project conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Underwriters Laboratories(UL), and FDNY, the internet seems to be flooded with great information on flow paths and the importance of confining fire. Most importantly, confining fire is “buying” possible victims’ time from heat and toxic smoke, as well as reducing rapid fire spread. It is extremely important for the interior search teams to find the fire quickly and if possible, confine it. Even if no door is present, i.e. kitchens, find any interior door that can be forced off its hinges and place in the open doorway.

Closing the door while performing vent enter search (VES) operations is a key task. This confines the room being searched from fire and smoke, increasing the survivability of that room. That same tactic needs to be implemented for the fire room, locate and confine so we slow the spread of fire and smoke.

As you can see in the photos, even hollow core wooden doors will hold back fire.

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These photos were taken after a recent fire in a single family residence. This door separated the fire room and kitchen, which then led to the remainder of the house. The door was closed before fire was able to spread into the kitchen, saving the home from further fire and smoke damage. The door also provided interior search crews with lighter smoke conditions while searching the uninvolved portion of the home.

Locating and confining fire will save lives and property!

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Can Mount

The Water Can is one of the most useful, yet underutilized pieces of equipment on the fireground. A Water Can can put out a fair amount of fire in the hands of a well trained fireman. But before it can be effective, it actually needs to be removed from the rig.

How is the Can stored on your rig? Is is easily accessible, or is it stored behind other equipment. If is not easy to grab, is that one of the reasons it is not used more? Below is easy method to give you the ability to quickly grab the Can off the rig. Another benefit of this mounting solution is it frees up some room in a compartment, allowing for other equipment to be stored in its place.

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The mount is simply a piece of 8 inch diameter PVC pipe bolted on the running board of the rig. The pipe was obtained from the local water utility company for free. They even placed a chamfer on the edge to give it a more finished look. (They use the chamfer when placing the pipe into a coupling.) A quick coat of paint and you’re good to go.

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Carriage bolts are the hardware of choice since they have a low profile head. They are a little tricky to secure, but work best for this application.

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One drawback to this style of mount is it doesn’t lend itself to being utilized with a Can strap. Most of the commercial Can straps would take up too much room in the pipe, and prevent the Can from fitting. The Can in the picture below has a simple strap that has both ends snapped on the the Can’s wall hanging bracket. It’s not the best way to secure a strap, but it’s better than not having a strap at all.

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If it’s easier to grab, it may just get used more often…

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Maxximus Tool Package

Engineer TJ Riggs from Federal Fire San Diego (CA) Truck 11 sent in photos of his homemade strap, bundling together a Maxximus Rexx halligan, aluminum wedge, and a small sledgehammer.

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Elastic secures an aluminum wedge on the pike, while allowing it to be easily removed when deploying the wedge. Two Velcro straps secure the head of the sledgehammer into a ring. There is a support rope, protected with heat shrink tubing, sewn in on each end to keep the halligan from sliding in the harness. This also holds acts as a backup in case the harness opens up accidentally.

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This is well put together forcible entry package, especially for thru-the-lock. If your not familiar with the Maxximus Rexx halligan it is a newly released halligan from Fire Hooks Unlimited with some nice modifications. One being the adz has been modified into it’s own version of an “A tool” making it a great thru-the-lock halligan. The aluminum wedge works well for gaining a gap or purchase in tightly sealed doors, this wedge obviously holds up better than a conventional wooded wedge. The small sledgehammer is used as a striking tool for pulling lock cylinders with the modified adz/A tool of the Maxximus Rexx halligan.

It is important to come off the rig with whatever tool(s) you are going to need to accomplish the task at hand, no one wants to run back to the rig multiple times. So we want to know, is there any unique “tool packages” you like to carry?

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