Whether it’s halligans, hooks or hoses, the unfortunate truth is that too many firefighters are using inferior tools and equipment on the fireground…and this needs to stop. To most of the brothers and sisters that will take the time to read (and watch) this, this is old news; but to many of our brethren, this is the first they’re hearing of this.
For a small example of a much bigger problem, let’s talk about the halligan. There are numerous makes and designs of the halligan on the market today, and they populate nearly every truck, squad, engine and even medic throughout the world. Each of these is unique and differs from the others in design, metrics and/or materials; although in my opinion, some are much better than others. If you’ve ever brought up the idea of upgrading your halligans to others within your department, you’ve undoubtedly heard some of these retorts before:
- “This halligan has worked for years."
- “We always get inside.”
- “This one’s already paid for.”
- “We always have the saw as a back up.”
- “They’re all the same.”
- “We’ve never had complaints about them before.”
I personally don’t buy any of these arguments and feel that if there’s a better tool for the job, we owe it to the citizens to look into it. Yes, I fully understand that in many departments money is tight, but a couple hundred dollars is a small price to pay for a tool that will last for generations (when utilized properly) and will put in work on nearly every fireground…not to mention lockouts, vehicle fires, extrications, etc. For full disclosure, I should state that I (like many of you) have the luxury of riding backwards, and therefore making purchasing decisions and dealing with budgets is well above my paygrade. Although this doesn’t mean that I should just accept the status quo; it means that if I feel strongly enough about an issue, I need to do my research, vet my sources, purchase my own tools and put in the hours on the training ground before I bring any suggestions upstairs. So that’s what we did.
In the video below we compare three different “halligans” on a prop door, attempting to make this as much of an apples to apples comparison as possible - same door, same firefighters, same fork placement and positioning, same striking tool and new pins and new stock for each force.
After watching this short video hopefully it’s pretty obvious that, at least for halligans, quality matters. A well-designed tool made with high-quality materials that has the end-user in mind goes a long way in this job…it’s really not that complicated. It also goes without saying that this then needs to be followed up with excellent training.
Like I mentioned above, this problem is pervasive and unfortunately affects too many departments. If you agree that quality matters, whether it’s axes, saw blades/chains, nozzles, hosebeds, masks, props, etc., I challenge you to make a similar video to share with the brotherhood…and please no vendors/manufacturers/distributors.
* Thank you to both Korey Maves (star and producer of the video) and Evan Larson (star of the video) for their help with the video above.