This one is probably self-explanatory, but forcible entry is the gaining of entry to an area using force. Of course, there’s also the legal definition, which puts it as the criminal act of taking possession of a house by physical force or threats. That’s not what I’m detailing here, though. Sometimes when responding to a fire, the firefighters need to get inside but can’t just open the door. They still need to find a way in, though.
There are five groups of tools used to gain entrance: striking, prying, cutting, pulling, and through the lock. Different circumstances will call for different tools. Probably any one could get you in, but the right one is the one that gets you in the quickest(Fire Training Toolbox).
A striking tool will apply enough force to break a lock or help drive another tool. However, the weight of a tool doesn’t necessarily equal its force. Too heavy of a tool won’t have enough speed to force entry. The most common of these are the flathead ax and sledge hammer. The ax can be used to strike objects or also to drive a Halligan bar(more on this Thursday). In fact, paired together, the ax and Halligan is one of the most common forcible entry tools. The sledge is used in much the same way as the ax. It can break down doors, and some of the smaller sizes can also drive the Halligan.
Embed from Getty Images
Prying tools are used to pull doors away from the jamb, lift objects, and also expose a lock. These include the Halligan bar, Kelly tool, and also crowbars and pry bars. The most common of these is the Halligan, which comes in many different lengths and weights. It has three parts: an adz, pike, and fork. The Kelly tool isn’t quite as common as the Halligan anymore, and lacks the pike.
Cutting tools, as you can imagine, are used to cut through a door or wall or open up a locking mechanism. These include the ax, bolt cutters, and saws. As well as striking, the flathead ax can be used to break through doors or walls. The pick head ax is less effective as a forcible entry tool, but can cut through doors and walls and also be used to puncture, pull, or pry. Saws come in two types: rotary or chain saw and should be handled by two firefighters. There are three different types of blades, depending on the material that needs to be cut through. Carbide-tipped blades are best used on wood, composite materials, and light-gauge metal. Metal cutting blades are typically made of aluminum oxide and are used on locks, steel doors, and roll-down gates. Masonry cutting blades are made of silicon carbide or even steel with a diamond matrix blade. These blades can be used to cut through different kinds of stone(including concrete and brick).
Embed from Getty Images
Pulling tools are actually most often used for searching for hidden fire, but they can also be used for forcible entry. The most common is the pike pole. Even though these are mostly used to pull down ceilings or walls(in searching for those hidden fires), they can also be used to break windows to gain entry or for ventilation.
Through the lock tools can be used to pull a lock apart. The K-tool(more on this next week) can pull out the lock cylinder so you can trip the lock with a key tool. Similar to this are an A-tool or Rex tool.
Some of these forced modes of entry can be avoided by the use of a Knox box. A master key can access lock boxes to various properties. Some of these even include an accounting of the date, time, and user ID for each key release to help prevent abuse of this system. It does cut down on response time, property damage, and lost keys.