Take This Door And Shove It

We all know that the shove knife can be a very useful tool during non-emergent runs, like automatic fire alarms (AFA) . They are commonly used to gain entry into rooms that have an outward swinging door with a simple “slam latch”.

How many times have you responded to an AFA and found the Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) locked inside a room with no key to be found? How about an elevator equipment room or an electrical room, all locked and missing keys? A majority of the time these rooms will have an outward swinging door with a “slam latch”. A perfect way to defeat this type of door, with zero damage, is the use of a shove knife. Like any tool, shove knives have their limitations and knowing ways to overcome them will set us up for success. One drawback is not being able to “shove” a door when a latch guard is present. The latch guard is installed to keep intruders from using the shove knife concept and defeating the lock. Unfortunately for us, this eliminates the potential to utilize a shove knife as well… Until now.

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An easy way to shove this type of door and overcome the latch guard is the use a 24 inch piece of weed-eater cord. Start by fishing the cord down from above the guard and behind the latch. The nice thing about weed eater cord is that is maintains a bit of a “memory” when unrolled it will still have a natural arc that helps get it into place behind the latch.

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Next, pull the cord out from the bottom of the guard, you should now have the cord wrapped behind the latch.

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Finally, pull both top and bottom ends of the cord towards you while doing an up and down sawing motion til the door pops open. Hint: Placing a little pressure on the door with your foot makes fishing the line in place easier because it allows the latch to sit properly in its keeper.

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This technique is surprisingly simple, but of course we recommend practicing on doors at the firehouse. The technique works just as well on doors without latch guards. Keep in mind that some doors are placed so tight into the frame that you may not have the room to fish the cord into place or defeat a tamper pin. Most slam latches are accompanied with a tamper pin. The tamper pin is the small semi-circle pin located adjacent to the slam latch (see photo above). The tamper pin works by staying outside the latch keeper causing it to be depressed when the door is closed. When the tamper pin is engaged it is intended to prevent the ability to manipulated the lock with items like shove knives and weed-eater cords. Confused? Find a door with a slam latch and tamper pin, open the door and press the tamper pin towards the door and you’ll find that the slam latch will not move inward. Now let the pin extend back out and notice the slam latch operates properly. When you place inward pressure on the door with your foot we are trying to push the tamper pin into the keeper (allowing it to fully extend) thus defeating the pin.

One benefit about weed-eater cord is that it’s cheap and light. It can be easily carried rolled up in your coat pocket without taking up any room or adding noticeable weight. While this technique might not work on every latch guard installation you come across, it is a simple and effective way to defeat most of them.

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Homebrewed Scuttle

John Douglass sent in something he found while detailed over to DC Truck 15. This scuttle has a homebrewed method of being secured with 2×4’s. Regardless if you are opening this from the roof, or the interior, almost any hand tool should be able to defeat it. If this was a ghetto fabulous plywood skylight replacement that you were removing from the roof, it might give some unexpected resistance. But the nails or screws that are holding it together would more than likely be the weak point, and pull right through the plywood. When removing from below, a quick strike from a hook or halligan should do the trick. Even when operating on a “nothing call” like a fire alarm, it is essential to be ready for anything and be prepared with tools in hand. It would certainly be embarrassing to encounter this and have to head back out to the rig to retrieve a tool to defeat it.

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Corrugated Surprise

Derek Brown from Madison (WI) Firehouse 7 sent in these photos of new style of roof construction he and the crew ran into in their first due. The building in the photo is a two-story day care facility that features an interesting style of roof construction.

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The building has steel trusses with corrugated metal sheet decking directly over the truss system.

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On top of the corrugated decking there are fire rated 2×4’s acting as a purling.  Over the purling is fire rated 3/4’” plywood. The roof will be finished off with traditional tab shingles. Once completed the roof will look no different than an ordinary shingle roof.

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Accomplishing a vertical vent on this building would be interesting if the style of construction was not know ahead of time. A good carbide tip on the chain saw should get right through the entire assembly, but will certainly take a bit longer than traditional plywood or OSB decking.

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Man In Machine Kit

Every truck company should be prepared to handle those obscure rescues like: machinery entrapments (fingers, hands, arms) Child stuck in a swing seat, and even simple ring removals. These calls can easily be handled by a well-trained and properly equipped crew and a little ingenuity. Included below are some photos and inventory list of the Man in Machine (MIM) Kit carried on Winter Park (FL) Truck 61. The kit is carried in a Pelican Box with shelves made from ½” HDPE plastic, and tools are secured in place with Velcro straps. The box is a little on the heavy side, but meets the need. We’ll point out a few of the more oddball items included in the kit with a quick explanation of how it’s utilized.

Many of the newer style of wedding rings are made from more exotic materials than previously found like tungsten carbide and titanium. These modern ring materials are to strong for the traditional ring removal tools often found in medical bags. This kit contains a ring cracker specifically made for tungsten carbide rings and a dremel tool and spoon handles for cutting titanium rings. The spoon handle is placed under the ring in between the ring and patients finger so the dremel blade does not come in contact with skin.

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The snap ring pliers is a great tool to carry since many machine components like rollers are held in place by snap rings on the ends. The snap rings are present to allow of the machine to be taken apart for maintenance. When dealing with a MIM type rescue, sometimes the simplest way to remove the entrapment is to take the effected portion of the machine apart instead of just trying to pry or defeat it in a destructive and often more time consuming method.

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Having simple lubricants handy like soapy water and vegetable oil work well in instances when less traumatic injuries are present and the effected body part is simply “stuck.” The water can be used as a cooling agent when any of the grinding tools are being utilized. Simply poking a few holes in the cap of the water bottle allows for the water to be squeezed out or dripped into the area of need.

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This kit is by no means the best kit out there; it has been assembled to handle the most common types of MIM incidents Truck 61 has encountered. Depending on the type of entrapment other items found on the truck are also utilized such as simple mechanics tools.

TOP

(2) SNAP RING PLIERS

(1) RING CRACKER w/ (2) SPOON HANDLES

(1) WIRE CUTTERS and (1) HEAVY DUTY END NIPPER

(1) SMALL HACK SAW w/ SPARE BLADES

(1) TIN SNIP

(1) SMALL FLAT HEAD SCREW DRIVER and (1) MULTI-HEAD SCREW DRIVER

(1) 9” PRY BAR and (1) 11” PRY BAR

(1) LONG REACH NEEDLE NOSE PLIERS and (1) LONG REACH 90 degree NEEDLE NOSE PLIERS

REMOVABLE TRAY

(3) COMPOSITE GRIND WHEELS

(1) 2” PUTTY KNIFE

(1) 3” PUTTY KNIFE

(1) 4” PUTTY KNIFE

(1) PLASTIC MOLDING REMOVER

(1) 18“ PRY BAR

(1) LARGE HACK SAW (stored on back side of tray)

BOTTOM

(1) STEEL WEDGE

(1) ANGLE GRINDER w/ DIAMOND BLADE

(1) DREMEL TOOL

(1) 2.5lb DEAD BLOW HAMMER

(2) DREMEL TOOL ACCESSORY KITS

(1) 1000ml VEGETABLE OIL

(1) 1000ml WATER

(1) 1000ml SOAPY WATER

(1) LARGE HACK SAW BLADE PACK

There are some tremendous resources available to learn more about MIM type Rescues, the guys over at www.plvulcanfiretrainingconcepts.com have some great resources. Also www.countyfiretactics.com has been featuring a bunch of MIM props that Andrew Brassard from www.brotherhoodinstructors.com has been submitting. It doesn’t take much to assemble a kit to increase your capabilities for the often challenging calls. So what other items have you found a need for in your MIM kit?

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Pin It

Andy Golz from Duluth (MN) Engine 1 sent in this simple and effective way to pin the Water Can. This tip works for replacing a missing pin, or to simply ensure the pin remains in place. They found a 2 ½” cotter pin and secured it in place with some paracord. The pin is tight enough that it remains in place without a zip tie, yet is still loose enough so that it is easy to pull when needed. The paracord also makes it easier to pull the pin with a gloved hand.

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Artistc Board Up Revisited

Lieutenant Joseph Minehan from Boston Engine 28 sent in some recent photos of an artistic board up project in Boston. We first posted about Artistic Board Up (click here for the post) projects found in New York back in August of 2009, and followed up with photos from a fire involving and Artistic Board Up building in Baltimore City (click here for the post).

We wanted to re-post information about these so everyone stays on their toes about them. As you can see in the ones Lt. Minehan sent in, they are getting a bit more creative with the artwork.

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Interior Roll Down

Technician Jeff Billingsley from Denver (CO) Tower 1 sent in these photos of something they recently ran into on a fire alarm. The building was an old church that had a recent addition of an office and classroom building with modern construction techniques.

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In order to separate the old portion of the building form the new building, they utilized roll down fire doors to achieve building separation from a fire code point of view.

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As you can see in the photos both doors have a fusible link on either side to allow the doors to roll down into place in the event of a heat condition on either side of the door. The crew was able to manually pull the door down to inspect and take a photo. These style doors typically have a counter weight or spring mechanism that allows them to automatically roll into the down position when the fusible link lets go.

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Below is a photo of the smaller door that was found in place of an average 33”-36” door way.

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Below is a photo of the larger door that spanned about a 12’ wide hallway.

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Because of the potential issues these could create on the fireground, we should try to be aware of this type of door in any of our buildings. These doors could operate behind us potentially cutting off our primary means of egress. It could also come down on the engine company’s umbilical cord and compromise their water flow.

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It’s All About the Wheelbase

Everyone should agree that knowing the ins and outs of your assigned rig is extremely important. We must know all capabilities and limitations, but then again it doesn’t look like this rig has many limitations…

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Poor Fox

Kirk Candan and the crew from FDNY Ladder Co. 129 came across this door while checking the surrounding properties at a manhole fire in Flushing, Queens. As you can see from the outside, you have a metal outward swinging door with the hinges exposed and a Fox Police Lock in its usual middle of the door position. There are no other bolts or locks visible from the street.

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Once inside you can see that the Fox Police Lock is poorly mounted on two pieces of plywood.

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Additionally four large slide-bolts, two on each side of the door, extend past the frame when locked.

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In the above photo it appears there is a decent gap between the door and the frame, but when the door is properly closed and locked the gap tightens up. The crew from Ladder Co. 129 decided that using the forcible entry saw to cut through the slide bolts would be their approach after attempting conventional forcible entry.

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Expect the Unexpected

Senior Captain Tod A. Paget from Houston (TX) Ladder 46 sent in this photo of something they encountered while doing tactical evaluation/assessment plans in their area. When walking through a partially occupied warehouse they found this unique method of reinforcing a sheet rock wall.

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Performing a wall breach for rapid egress of this particular room (or surrounding rooms) would be problematic at best. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way of identifying this ahead of time. The only indication of finding something this unique might be through noticing some other home-brewed ways to secure doors and windows as well. Unfortunately, we might not find out about this until its too late, and someone is trapped inside. The two best options would be the door (obvious) or simply attempting another wall in the same room. Often times fortification like this may be found on exterior wall or a wall that is shared with an adjoining occupancy. If you find fortification like this in one wall, don’t waste your time, try another wall.

Now take a look at this scenario from the eyes of the RIT team. If that door was not present, and you knew your brother was trapped in that room what would you do? Do you normally carry a rotary saw? Would it have the proper blade to defeat this? What is your “Plan B?” We’ll never be able to predict and plan for every single thing we could encounter on the fireground, but we must make sure we take every opportunity possible to discuss crazy finds like this. Remember to always expect the unexpected.

 

 

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