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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.

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Replies to This Discussion

I think the 10' piece of rope is a great idea. If the door is being forced conventionally with a set of irons, a 3rd FF or the Capt/Lt can maintain control of the door with the rope. If using a hydraulic/rabbit tool, a 2nd FF can be assigned to control it. I will definitely put this to work with my crew. We are normally staffed with 3 FFs and a Captain so it shouldn't be a big adjustment either way. Thanks for the tip...
You're welcome. This is something that I have found works well while adding value and verstaility without adding weight when carried in a pocket of your PPE.

Be Safe,

When short handed the member setting the Halligan with the flathead or maul can step on the end of the rope or webbing holding it securely with his boot.

You're experience mirrors my own as I alluded to in the discussion thread. Glad to hear someone else has used this tip with success also. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Be Safe,

I like the webbing idea. It sounds efficient although maybe a little cumbersome and time consuming. We have found the best way to control the door is to have one member of the FE team using the roof hook or Halligan to control the door. These are tools that an entry member has in his hands already.
As to a victim being located behind the door being forced, the vast majority of fire victims are located within direct proximity of the main door to the occupancy. In the event the victim is blocking the door, after attempting to force the door there will be a slight opening on the hinge side. Simply place the forks of the Halligan into the gap near each hinge and shock load the tool which will pull the door free of the hinges. Pull the now dislodged door, out of the occupancy and out of the way of the companies entering the structure.
The area behind and in direct proximity to the main door to the occupancy should be a high target area of focus for the searchers.

Thanks for taking the time to respond thoughtfully to the post. The tubular webbing solution for door control is only one option for controlling the door. Clearly, if you're more comfortable utilizing a tool to control the door you should use it. I offer it as a suggestion as I have found it to work well for me, is simple to deploy, is lightweight, and gives me great utility while adding little to no weight to my PPE. As I indicated, I keep two (2) figure eights on a bight in either end to aid me in this application so that I do not lose time securing it to the door handle.

If your gear does not contain the Drag Rescue Device, this same piece of webbing can be used to secure a victim also.

Consider it just another tool for your toolbox.

Thanks, and Be Safe,

I've been taught and currently teach my Truck Company Operations students that they can hook the bottom of the door with the adz/pike end of the Halligan. They can then pull the door back closed until entry is to be made. The only problem that I have with this technique is that they are not controlling the door until after it is forced from the latch side of the frame. But, if you have limited manpower and you forgot your rope/webbing, this is an option to at least to be able to secure the door in a closed position. I like the rope/webbing idea. I usually carry a short piece of webbing in my pocket anyway.
Hi Dave. When I say shock loading the tool I mean that you find that sweet spot after the tool is in place and when you begin to pull on the halligan it stops when it meets resistance. Right there is the place you need to be. Now, as fast and as hard as you can you execute the pull. This hard and fast moves magnifies the strength of the forcible entry tool/technique. Because it is a hard and fast move, the actual amount of "distance" that the tool moves is a lot less than if you perform the forcible entry technique by slowly applying force. Hope this helps.
Hi Chris. I hope you didn't misunderstand my post. Given the many differences within the American Fire Service I was only trying to explain how we do business here. I have seen and tried the technique that you mention. I think it works well and with some practice I'm sure it would become comfortable enough. Presently, we use the technique outlined above since we have the available manpower. Actually though, I carry several pieces of webbing in my pockets and could probably use any one of them for this job.
Unfortunately, many of our Brothers in the Fire Service are operating without proper, safe or adequate staffing levels and there are times that other techniques must be utilized to augment the absence of an extra pair of hands. That is not to say that the strap technique is a lesser or secondary idea. In fact it just means that I am blessed to work in a system where there is a lot of firemen on scene and I usually have at least one fireman standing by with a hook in his hands looking for a place to use it. Stay safe.
Not at all! Thanks for taking the time to post. I definitely believe this group works better with the give and take, and I want your input. Sharing what works well helps all of us do our jobs better and safer-so keep the commentary coming-thanks.

Be Safe,

I agree that using a tool to hold the door is an accepted and viable option. However, we should all carry a short piece of rope or webbing as part of our pocket hardware. Using a short rope with a simple clip attahed to one end actually works better with limited personnel, as one of the members forcing the door can step or kneel on the end of the rope holding it tight. If the knob has come off the door you can use your vise grips to hold the remnants of the locking hardware and attach the clip end of your rope to a threaded eye hook screwed into the adjustment side of the tool. These methods have worked with my company, but I'm sure there are many more out there we can try.
Wether I am using a hydraram/rabbit tool or conventinal methods I always once the door is poped drop to my knees and grab the door whit either a hook or the halligan bar and pull it shut with the bar or hook between the door and the jamb. This mantains control of the door and you don't need anything extra to do it with. It also ensures that you con't re lock the door. It has worked great for me. I tried the vice grips method and the weebing/rope method and I just wasn't a fan they worked but I thought it was just another step that I could take out since I already had the bar or hook with me. Great topic!


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