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Most of our fires occur in residential structures. The primary access door to most single family dwellings and multi-family units are inward swinging doors, secured with a key in knob lock and a dead bolt above. This is not an absolute, this is a majority. If we think about theses locking mechanisms and the fact that they are centered at the jamb this point is going to be very tight, but as we work away from these mechanisms we may see an opportunity.

If the only locking mechanisms are near the center point of the jamb you may be able get door flex at points high and low on the door. In the picture to the left you can see the light from inside an apartment door due to the gap which was created simply by pressing a boot against the bottom of the door.  This door is locked by the key in knob and deadbolt above seen in the picture above. If we learn to create a gap by using door flex and we practice working our halligan by starting low and working up a single firefighter can quickly defeat these doors without ever needing a strike.

If you have a forcible entry prop which uses a full door and allows for forcing the full length of the door like the ones used by Irons and Ladders or made by Brass Eagle Fabrication this method can be replicated. Too many commercially made door props do not provide a full door and only allow for attacking a small area on the door.

In the first video I present a simple demonstration of the door flex and gap created by pressing with the toe of your boot. If you do not have a full door prop get out in your district and test the theory. On your next medical call at that apartment complex down the street, press your boot in the corner of a few doors and see if they move in and create that gap.

The second video the adze of the halligan is inserted into this gap at a low point and the bar is pressed towards the door away from the pick of the halligan to get full throw. This will be up on one side or down on the other depending on the lock side of the door.

The third video is a more full view of the technique. And the final video is a full speed video where the prop was set with additional resistance material. The added resistance fails my initial force and causes me to use my flat head in the gap to capture my progress and reset my halligan.


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My final two notes are to preemptively address a few questions. Yes wedges are nice but they are also small and typically located in a pocket or helmet strap. If I have the halligan an 8lb flathead should be close by if not in contact with me. The axe blade is an excellent wedge that is easy to grab and has a large surface on the flat head which I can strike with the halligan driving it in between the jamb and door to create an even greater gap.

The second most common question is what happens if you fail the jamb by prying on it? If you pop the furring strip off the jamb simply clear it out and now you exposed the door gap and any locking mechanisms directly in line with you allowing for a quick force.

Once again the halligan is more than a set of forks.  The adze end is a force multiplier and with training you may find that a little pressure from you boot might be your partner on the door you force at your next fire. 


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Comment by Nick Ledin on October 16, 2013 at 11:19pm

Great stuff as always Brian...clean, simple, efficient, effective.

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