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Conventional Methods for Defeating Window Bars

By: Brian Brush

In most settings window bars are more deterrent than actual fortification.  There are places where window bars and coverings can be substantially built and designed as an obstacle, for example commercial occupancies or vacant property systems.  For the most part window bars and coverings on occupied residential and multi-family dwellings are designed to intimidate criminals from an attempt.  We are not criminals and we should not be intimidated.

I hesitated with this post for two reasons; the first is that window bars have been covered in detail by several others recently.  The second is that when it comes to window bars and coverings the styles and attachment types are endless and any effort to cover it is simply the tip of the iceberg.

I am a fortunate because my first alarm resources include proactive RIT crews, truck companies and a heavy rescue with a variety of tools, saws and task/equipment familiar firefighters for forcible entry duties.  The presence of window bars on arrival is not much of a curve ball for our operations. I say I am fortunate because this is not the case in every department.

For a lightly staffed or volunteer department that only runs and equips engine companies the presence of window bars at a working fire may be seen as a significant problem. This holds especially true if training and lack of education has programmed them to believe that saws are the primary method for defeating them.

Even with a well-equipped and staffed response there is the potential that the first arriving engine finds an immediate rescue behind the window bars and no time to wait for a saw.

Gresham Oregon on November 29th 2012 – Photo: Greg Muhr

Please see the link to the downloadable PDF as an introduction to widow bar and covering types.  This is not all inclusive! The document covers some types and some methods.  Due to the variety of window bars and coverings, I highly recommend you use this document as a template for you to size up and discuss methods for your area not as the resource for your area.

As the foundational message of forcible entry is “try before you pry” I hope you take from this “try before you cut”.  When you encounter window bars and coverings it is a good idea to bring a forcible entry saw with you or call for one. In the meantime or in the absence of a saw, a quick size up may reveal to you that conventional methods and standard tools can defeat them.

Click the link below for a downloadable document:

Conventional Methods for Defeating Window Bars

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