Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Forcible Entry is of one of the key areas in which truck companies must achieve proficiency. What strategies and tactics do you use to force entry? What challenges have you encountered? Share your knowledge!

Views: 2655

Replies to This Discussion

Dude, Great write up. Thanks. I'm using this one for a district school. I appriciate you taking the time to write all that out.
Thanks for taking the time to respond with the comment. I am truly glad that you're able to take away some quality points you can use where it matters most.

Be Safe,

Here's a photo of our modified vise grips for forcible entry with rotary saw:

Residential style roll-down garage doors are found in every community in America. Sometimes so often that we do not pay very much attention to them; that is until we find ourselves faced with a situation when we must force entry through one.

Our complaceny may be rooted in the fact that we are not required to force entry through residential style garage doors with great frequency, and like any little-used skill, we may require a refresher in how to approach forcible entry through the most frequently encountered types of garage doors.

First, let's take a moment to notice that I have referred to these doors as "residential style" garage doors. I do this intentionally to bring attention to the fact that we don't always prepare to encounter theses types of doors outside of the residential setting. I want to try to challenge our thinking here, and remind ourselves that it is growing increasingly common to encounter these types of doors on commercial occupancies of all varieties, and even on schools. So, with this in mind, we must plan to encounter this type of door outside of our expected environment.

As with any forcible entry evolution, the decision to force this type of door begins after a careful size-up of not only the door itself, but of the structure on the whole. Ask yourself, "Does this door have to be forced and why?" This question is asked to make sure we have accounted for all other possible means of access to the building. Remember that it is often easier to force entry through another type of door-usually the entryway door most commonly used by the occupants. This question also causes us to assess the advantage or disadvantage commencing forcible entry through this door may have upon the plan of action currently being executed on the fireground.

Once the decision has been made to force the garage door, size up the type of door to determine the best means to defeat the door.

Here's a photo of two (2) typical garage doors:

What is your plan for forcing entry?
How about this door?

Or this door?

A good place to begin would be by sizing up the material with which the door is made. This information will prove useful should a cutting operation need to be undertaken. Will your choice of saw be as effective on wood as on a composite material?

The side by side doors in the initial photo share the same composite material with the door in the second photo. The last photo depicts a wooden door with plywood decking attached to the interior over the section where we would expect to find glass windows. For good measure, the owner has also taken the liberty of attaching wire mesh over the front surface of the door "windows."

After determining the type of door, and the material with which it is constructed, determine to the best of your abilities how the door is secured in the down position. Does the door appear to be equipped with an electric garage door opener?

Does the door have this feature?

This keyed release feature in blank face door will indicate that the door is electric and is equipped with a keyed released feature in the event of a door motor failure or power outtage. This information may also provide a hint that this door's release may be actuated with a commercially available tool that is inserted through the weather gasket at the top of the door.

The overall condition of the door should also be taken into account. Does the door appear to be in good repair? Poorly maintained doors will be easier to defeat, and may also be indicators of other potential structural defects that we may need to be aware in the building itself.

Extra precautions will need to be taken to assure that the door, once forced open, will remain in the upright positon. Whenever possible, disable the rail and assign a firefighter to monitor the door position to avoid the door coming down behind firefighters operating inside the garage, thereby cutting off their means of escape.

Strategies that may be employed to force garage doors include removal of panels or windows to achieve access to the locking mechanism on manual doors or the release on electrically operated doors, prying up from the bottom of the door at two (2) points, and cutting through the door material and locking mechanism with a saw.

As we have seen from the photo above where the occupant had taken measures to reinforce the door by removing the glass windows, and adding wire mesh to the outside and plywood on the interior, you should have a plan "B" should your initial plan of attack need to be altered by conditions similar to those described here.

What tactics have you employed successfully to force garage doors?

By the way, here's an overall shot of the occupancy where I shot these "residential style" garage doors.

Be Safe,

How much time do you think it takes to cut American Series 700 Locks with a Partner saw? The rule of 4's is ridiculous. You can cut multiple locks quickly if you have any experience. Cutting the gate and removing the slats is a much more time consuming operations. If you are going to cut the gate, CUT IT. Dont waste time with a small triangle, I have never seen it done on the fireground, and I've been to several of these operations
The second set of locks pictured, are case hardened heavy duty short shackle pad locks. I would use the 100% rule. If the saw starts you can get through these locks quickly. Its not uncommon for roll down gates to have two locking points per side. PS You don't need to hold the locks in place -start the saw slowly and hold it in place, make sure you cut through both sides of the shackle as thses locks have toe and heel locking.
Hey Ray what about the 4 lock rule LOL?
As far as the window gates go, there are several methods of attack. First of all, what are the bars anchored into. It may be a wooden frame if it is a dwelling. If it is block or brick, what about the back of the axe or maul. Another nice tool is the rebar cutter. We know the saw will definatley work... How do we want to remove these bars? From the top and hinge down or from one side and hinge out of the way?
What do you think of these. They are VPS Windows and are replacing Traditional HUD Windows throughout the country. Any thoughts.....


Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service