THE SMITHIT CONCEPT. Back in one of the very first posts on this site, in a write-up entitled “Truck 15’s House– Baltimore, MD” (under Stations and Places of Note), it was mentioned in passing that when Baltimore City Firefighter Jerry Smith (a very good friend, now with Rescue 1) was riding as acting officer on T15, he would throw a 3# rock hammer into his coat pocket! Why? Well, Balto City truck officers often find themselves responsible for doing forcible entry single-handedly and Jerry thought that if he was going to be doing it solo, he’d rather give up a little striking weight for more precision. Wallah(!): the rock hammer! OK, maybe being a little skeptical, several of us gave it a try– on entry props, car fires (under-hood access), residential calls, etc., and for these and for 90% (or more) of the stuff we do, the results were very impressive:
- Tight quarters work is significantly enhanced.
- Low to zero visibility work is enhanced (your kinesthetic abilities let you strike on-target with amazing precision and force).**
- Reduced weight and bulk = increased agility and mobility.
NOTE** Most of the people we polled found this method preferable to being hit in the ribs by their “buddy,” flailing away in the dark with a 6-8# axe.
There is no question in my mind, but what using a 3-4 pound short-handled “hammer” for striking was a superior way for me (or any other officer?) to perform forcible entry. Several friends use the technique religiously (so to speak). The only question I have had was whether there might be a better way of transporting the striking tool?
That’s where the blog post rather casually tossed in a couple of photos of methods we use to “marry” a short striking tool to a Halligan. Unfortunately, as noted by one reader– Mitchell Sowers– there wasn’t really enough detail included to be useful. So, the following is an effort to clarify the idea. You may also want to look at photos in the original post. To implement the project shown, you’ll need some variation of the following parts:
- a) A 3# – 4# striking tool of your choice.
- b) The Halligan(s) with the thickest fork (at the crotch or bottom of the fork) that you plan to use with this method.
- c) Two fender washers (wide diameter with a much smaller hole) for a 1/4″ bolt.
- d) One nut, wing-nut, fiber lock-nut (my preference), or internally threaded handle (shown below) to fit the 1/4″ bolt you plan to use.
- e) a light-weight coil spring, approximately 1″ long x 1/2″ diameter– not requiring too much pressure, since its strength doesn’t actually come into play.
- A 1/4″ bolt long enough to thread through all of the above– with the nut in place– without compressing the spring much, if at all.
The following photos show of the many variations explored in developing this Halligan/Maul team of entry tools. Users who like Jerry’s original idea will undoubtedly find additional refinements to improve their compatibility.
Most recently, on a trip to L.A., a visit to L.A. County Fire Station 170 netted yet another variation on this theme of more efficient one-person entry. Their Truck 170 had two sets of midi-irons: each Halligan had two pins welded to its side and a hand sledge modified to attach to them. At some point the hammers were retained by hitch pins, but they were currently just retained by gravity, as shown in the top set. The screwdriver slid into a sleeve near the head of the bottom hammer and was held by its longer back peg.
CAPITAL FIRE TRAINING. If you find yourself fightin’ fire and hungry for training in the Northeastern U.S., be sure to take a look at Capital Fire Training’s web sight and schedule of class deliveries. The CFT Instructors have earned a very strong reputation for rigorous training with great attention to detail, especially in the areas of integrated engine/truck operation, up-to-date RIT and personal survival strategies, and fire officer development. Robert James (“RJ”) has been a particularly tireless supporter of our company’s efforts to get on its feet– hope you’ll help us return the favor. Contact: capitolfiretraining.com