Instructor Provides Firefighter Forcible Entry Training, Showing Use of Forcible Entry Tools

Fire instructor Rich Cantarella and Interstate Rescue provide firefighter forcible entry training in this fire training video. Cantarella teaches forcible entry techniques with a forcible entry door prop, while discussing the importance of training on simple tasks.


Anytime I do this, I use ‘strike’ or ‘hit’ which means one. We use ‘drive’ to tell the others that we want continuous ‘hits’ until ‘stop’. We need to practice all the time because we cannot afford mistakes on our routine tasks. It’s easy to do it here. It might even seem trivial when its 10 o’clock in the morning, and you’ve only been through one station. It is easy to think that you’re not going to get hit in the shoulder. However, if we run it at midnight after we’re many calls in, with less visibility and we’ve never worked with each other before, that is an opportunity for errors to occur.

If we go to a call and I’m on the bar, it’s going to be ‘hit’, ‘drive’, ‘stop’. When I say that, you will know what I mean and be clear every time we do it. That builds the trust, and it translates to any other opportunity you may find yourself in.

This is a tongue set. Getting into the door is important, but if this starts to go sideways, it can compromise the rest of your procedures. That is why the simple things like hoses, forcible entry and throwing ladders are important to be efficient at.

If you see that kind of a seam, for the bar’s purposes, you’re going to want to use the ax. If it’s not, you may have to go with the tips of the fork. I want you to pay attention to the angle you’re working on. If you decide you’re going to start with the ax to get your initial point, remember that little bit of curve and bevel to the ax is going to take the tip of it away from the door.

Understand the space you are working in and know the angle that you will have to approach the door with. Always remember to take care of your tool too. If you have everything filed a little bit thinner and sharper, that makes a difference.

What was your question?

Other firefighter: Do you prefer the Stryker to be down or hung up?

I’ve gone through all the different ways, and I like to be down if I can be. My only qualifier for that is to do whatever you feel like delivers a level strike. That’s where you’re going to get that force. If you’re swinging and you’re getting more of a glancing blow up, maybe you want to try another way. This is a time to kind of work around and mess with some of this stuff. We talk about that light fire layout. That may be something where you can try different methods and techniques.

Other firefighter: A lot of the time, whenever I’ve done two persons, one guy is striking down on the other guy.

I like to use down in general, but it depends on the situation.

In our best situation, where’s our starting point in relation to the lock? Above or below doesn’t make a difference as long as you are close to the lock. If the lock is intact and the door doesn’t flex, we need to find that point where we can get leverage.

If this door is tight, just put a foot on it. It is enough for us to get started, and we can just drop it in here and work towards that. That’s where that door flex could work against you. You may be able to start, but you’re starting so far away from the lock that you’re going to have to work. You might have to wedge or hold it. You have to work up towards the lock before you’re actually going to get the lock mechanism to fail.

Make sure to listen to the sounds of the tool. There are different sounds that can tell you what kind of progress you are making. When you hear that tool vibrate against the metal, that can tell you that you have made it all the way into the door. If you hear a dull thud, you have a good idea that the tool is not all the way into the door yet. You can also hit the door with the end of the tool and listen to where the lock is. When you hit closer to the lock the sound will be a solid thud. As you get further from the lock that sound will be hollower.

Do not be afraid to try the door either. You don’t want to start by forcing entry into the door. Sometimes the doors are unlocked, so be sure to try opening it first.

If we don’t have anything smooth or rigid here to pry against, that energy doesn’t go back to the door. That energy is going to get sucked in with that piece of trim. Start going down and keep that bar where it is. Take whatever that door gives you, but don’t try to get more than you can. You don’t want it to roll out or you’ll lose the trim. When you feel like you’re in, you’re going to wedge it.

Remember to communicate what you are doing. If you have daylight, you can go right to the edge and drop it in. If you don’t have that much daylight, you want to steer the forks through.

Because of your size, I would go a little bit above the lock and use that whole tool. He’s used the two-inch-wide ax. Two inches is important because a residential lock goes an inch and a half into the keeper. That means the ax will beat the inch-and-a-half lock.

Now you have the ability to use the forks. When any side of the tool you work, it’s a really good practice to go all the way to the door. The standard 30-inch bar is the width of most doors. It allows you to go all the way flush to the door and get the whole curve to work. The same goes for the ax. If you can get it all the way flush with the door, that gives you the full two-inch spread. The tool that you use should depend on what the door allows you to do. Some doors may give you more or less space depending on the around you.

The forks probably are not going to give you the full two inches. You can start with the forks, however, if you need more leverage, you can switch the ax. If you’re still not getting enough leverage with the ax, you can wedge something between the door and the ax to get even greater leverage.

Remember, on short, tougher doors, the further out on the bar you get the more leverage you’re going to have. You should be looking to increase your mechanical advantage wherever you can.

This hand in here isn’t doing a whole lot, especially if the door is tough. If you get all the way out on the forks and move the bar from there, you’re going to improve your chances. That’s why we marry bars. That’s why we use longer bars.

It takes skill to marry bars, but if you’re good at it, you can give yourself a lot of mechanical advantage. I’m not that good at it, but it takes time and practice.

You need to take the time and do all the work to get the tool set in there. People get ahead of themselves because there’s so many folks rushing. They want to do it too quick, and they outpace themselves. A lot of times, all you need on a door with an inch and a half lock, is the two inches on the tool. The two inches we’ll beat that door, but you have to take the time to do it right.

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