Forcible Entry: Squared Shoulders & Tight Quarters

I know we always try to work in pairs, but I also know that for many of us that its not always a reality.  Here is a quick idea for forcing inward opening doors by yourself.  

The stock “shoulder” of the Halligan (the top of the fork, where the shaft joins) is rounded (in the photo, fork on the left).  If you try to use this rounded surface for striking, the slope tends to let the axe glance right off – losing a lot of force.  A couple minutes with a grinder will square-off the top nicely, providing a firm striking surface.  While one hand steadies the bar, you can use the other to strike the shoulder.  As the bar gets “set”, you may be able to completely release the Halligan and step back and get full swings.

This technique is also useful when you do have a partner, but are in tight quarters.  As an example, last shift we ran a mid-morning apartment fire in northwest DC.  My partner & I were forcing doors as we searched the fire floor.  In one apartment we encountered a door (what turned out to be a bedroom) locked with a knob-lock and tubular deadbolt.  The door was in a hallway about 32″ wide – just wider than the length of the Halligan.  As a result, I had no room to swing the axe onto the head of the Halligan.  As an alternative, my partner positioned the bar and I struck the “shoulders” instead.  This helped make quick work of the door.

  

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