Without gaining entry into a structure where a suspected or confirmed fire is, the fire cannot be located and extinguished, searches cannot be made, and extension of fire cannot be checked. There may be one or more firefighters assigned to forcing entry (commercial property), or the first firefighter to the door (residence) is expected to have the tool or tools to accomplish the task. Once upon a time the pick head axe was used on the majority of forcible entries. Today there are an assortment of tools and techniques that assist in forcing entry and the list continues to grow.
Firefighters should be proficient in the basic forcible entry skills for at least three reasons:
The firefighters efficiency in forcing entry depends on two factors:
– Choosing the proper tool(s) for the job and
– Using the proper technique to the component.
The need to gain access is determined by several factors.
When the first unit arrives on scene an assessment should be made as to the need for forcible entry. Many times the front door is open already. If it is closed, is it wood or metal, is there a screen or storm door in front of it, does it swing in or out, is there a window in the door, and of course if it is closed, is it unlocked already. This assessment should be made during the size up. Once entry is made, there should be some method to ensure the door doesn’t close. I have used a smoke fan, porch chair, sprinkler wedge, or a brick from the flower bed to prop the door open.
When we leave the scene the best case scenario is that we didn’t damage the door or lock and the door can be closed and secured for the citizen. If the door had to be removed or is damaged beyond use, we should make every effort to secure the opening in some manner so the owner/occupant can feel safe inside. It also helps with our image which we cannot get enough of.
Forcible entry should not be any more of a challenge than pulling a line from the engine. Training is the first step and goes hand in hand with pre-planning, especially on the commercial buildings. When we pull up on a commercial building we should already know what we need to force entry.
Forcible entry – easy when you are ready, harder when you are not. The secret to success is to be ready.
Be safe – Everyone Goes Home…