Monday, April 5, 2010

Forcible Entry Drills

When firefighters respond to a reported fire, one of their first tasks upon arrival is to get into the building. During the day when the structure has been occupied, doors are usually unlocked. But at night or when the occupants are away, firefighters must forcibly enter the building. In some commercial buildings metal doors, heavy-duty locks and cross bars slow their entry to the fire. To ensure that firefighters have all the skills necessary to quickly make entry, they practice cutting open the metal doors, hinges and locks that can dramatically slow their fire attack.

This past week, Hillsboro Volunteer Firefighters drilled at Fire Station #3, located at 4455 NW 229th Avenue on these skills. The station has a number of training props located there. They include commercial steel man-doors that are designed to allow firefighters to practice their forcible entry techniques. The gas-powered circular rescue saw is among the most popular tools used to cut into steel doors, hinges and lock bolts. The saw can be fitted with the normal wood cutting blade, concrete cutting blades or a special blade that cuts hardened metal quickly. Firefighters recognize these doors are expensive and attempt to minimize damage to the doors and framework, but have to balance cost conservation with the need to access the building quickly to attack the fire.

The first step is to assess the type of door the firefighter faces, recognize the type of locking components, hinges and potential internal structure, and then begin to attack its most vulnerable points. Experienced firefighters can usually cut through these doors in a matter of minutes.

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