Some firefighters think that forcible entry begins and ends with brute force. That thinking goes something like this: As long as you have enough oomph behind your tool or your kick, you should be able to batter down any door. Makes sense, right?
Not so fast, says Jason Hoevelmann, deputy chief and fire marshal with the Sullivan, MO Fire Protection District. Technique and control are just as important, and probably more important, than strength when you’re forcing doors. His article over at FireRescue1 doesn’t have any new forcible entry techniques, but it does lay out four pragmatic reasons for why you should focus more on skill than muscles when forcing doors.
- Prevention of Firefighter Injuries: Kick a door, and you might break your leg, ankle or foot, Hoevelmann says. Bash it with your shoulder, and you might break your arm or dislocate your shoulder. Any of these injuries can take you out of the fight and cripple your team’s effectiveness.
- Prevention of Victim Injuries: Victims are often found right behind doors during a fire, says Hoevelmann. Smashing down a door can injure adult victims and possibly kill children on the other side.
- Greater Fire Area Safety: Crashing through a door can hurtle you into whatever’s behind the door, like a hole in the ground or fire, before you have a chance to react or regain your balance, says Hoevelmann. That’s a good way to get yourself killed.
- Ventilation Control: If you break down a door, you can create a ventilation hole in the structure that can lead to flashover, a backdraft, or the spread of fire and smoke, says Hoevelmann. On the other hand, using tools and some restraint can keep the door intact and under control, so you can close it and regulate ventilation.
Bottom line: Learn how to use your forcible entry tools, and leave your boots for walking.
FireRescue1, Jason Hoevelmann, “How firefighters can force doors with control“
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