Oftentimes, we spend a great deal of time talking about and training for forcible entry through doors while familiarizing ourselves with the common challenges we encounter when forcing entry in our first due areas.
A great deal of attention is placed upon responsibilties of entry team members with an emphasis upon proper tool selection for the task, and achieving proficiency in the evolution given priority.
Less shrift is often given to the topic of controlling the door during forcible entry to the fire occupancy although it is of central importance to keeping our crews safe and confining the fire whenever possible to the occupancy of origin.
Ideally, we would like to wait for the charged handline to be in place prior to attempting any forcible entry into an occupancy of suspected fire. This provides us with the assurance that should we encounter a large amount of fire upon entry, or should catastrophic loss of control of the door occur during entry, that we have the means to push the fire back into the occupancy of origin (ideally), and/or provide protection to our team members. Another reason we would want to have the protection of a handline is to preclude any fire from being driven into the hallway allowing the potential for both vertical and horizontal extension of fire.
Realizing that this may not always be possible, especially when attempting a push to reach trapped victims, it is important to understand the importance of controlling the door and be proficient in the operation.
Some thoughts to keep in mind would be to ask yourself to whom do we assign the task of controlling the "swing" of the door once we "pop" it open in order to achieve the goal of entry for search or extinguishment, and what method are we going to use to achieve control of the door?
Dependent upon your manpower, this task may be assigned to a separate team member, or may be the sole responsibility of the team forcing the entry.
Whatever your reality, it is essential that control of the door to the fire occupancy be achieved irrespective whether forcing the door to achieve knockdown and//or extinguishment of the fire or to allow entry for conduction of primary search ahead of the hoseline.
An initial consideration should involve the assessment of present conditions with an eye toward projection of what conditions may devolve into once we force the door. Our situaltional awareness must be attuned and based upon a constant and ongoing size-up in order to assure that when pressing ahead that we are not over-extending ourselves and endangering us or our team members.
Some strategies to use once you have assessed the door for heat and signs of deteriorating interior conditions in the occupancy, such as smoke pushing from around the door or door frame, and peeling or discoloration (if visible) of paint upon finished surfaces.
1) Place a length of personal utility rope around or through the door handle and at such a length to allow safe positioning of the "anchor person" once forcible entry is achieved. Remember to keep this rope taut enough to avoid the big swing into the occupancy.
2) Utilize the can man or other team members' hook (Pike Pole, Boston Rake, NY Roof Hook, etc.) to achieve a hold upon the knob or handle to achieve the same outcome as described above. The can may be of great value should a loss of water supply or door control occur.
Remember to also assess the possibility of a victim being down in the occupancy against the door
I have used a 10' section of tubular webbing with two (2) figure eights tied into the ends to achieve door control. I can either place the webbing around the knob directly or cinch the webbing around the handle and back through itself to control any potential door swing. I have found this to be a durable, lightweight addition to my gear that has found many uses beyond this task. When manpower has been a determining factor, I have found that I can kneel or step on one end of the anchor strap as I assist in making the forced entry. In this way, I achieve the goal of access, without losing control of the door.