Chock that Door!

Recently, NIOSH released the report on the LODD of Allan Roberts (BCFD) that occurred on 10/10/06 in Greek town neighborhood of Baltimore City. FF Roberts died at a fire in the middle of the group row home in which, due to numerous factors, he and his crew became trapped inside the dwelling. The report is an excellent training document for you to review with your members because the conditions faced that day are re-created everyday all across the Country. Here is a link to the report:

Baltimore City Fire Service

The fortunate aspect of our occupation, the associated LODD’s, and subsequent comprehensive reports that follow is that they validate what we train on and why we train on these particular skills. The contributing factor and recommendations in the report that each and every firefighter should review, and is the focus of this posting, is surrounding the chocking of doors. FF Roberts and his crew became trapped inside the dwelling when they fell back into the front metal door which caused the 1 3/4″ hoseline to became jammed under the door. Aside from this obstacle that was limiting their egress, they also had to deal with the fact that the three of them were piled up behind the door in high heat / zero visibility conditions. Essentially, no one could get in or get out because the hoseline was jammed under the door. If this scenario sounded unrealistic before, now we know it is not, and can happen to anyone. So what do we learn to take this factor out of the equation? Chock every door we go through.


So, you ride an Engine with primary task of getting that line on the fire or at least getting your line between the fire and occupants (remember Truckies are occupants).

  • What do you carry in your gear to chock those doors?
  • Do you chock every door?
  • Do you assign one person this task on the line?

I operate under the premise that it is every fire fighter’s responsibility to chock the door. That means the guy on the nozzle, the officer, the back up guy taking a feed, the truck guy trying to trample over you and get an award (ha-ha-ha). If it is done by the first guy, great! Check and make sure it will stay (and don’t steal it). If is not or he has run out of chocks because it is the 10Th door he has went through with the line than it’s your turn chock it.

A good drill is to get your members together and see what everyone carries in their pockets.

  • What kind of chocks do you carry?
  • How many do you carry?
  • Any 1st due buildings with a copious amount of doors that will need to be chocked?

Below is a pix of some of the more common chocks I carry, please add to the list by sharing what you carry and why? Never know, it may save your brothers life!

Wood Chocks, Grooved Wood Chock, Cherry Bombs, Hinge Locks, and some good ol' nails.
Wood Chocks, Grooved Wood Chock, Cherry Bombs, Hinge Locks, and Nails

8 Responses

  1. Most often we operate like we train. Which can lead to issues when all out training is ‘Non-Destructive’ due to obvious concerns. What happens is though we fail to practices the actual things we need to achieve. We typically use door chocks when we hope to preserve the doors ability to be re-shut and re-locked, as opposed to making the door securely open. If the end condition of the door is not an issue, such as in a fire, the technique of disabling the top hinge will typically cause the door to hang down with the knob side lower corner on the floor, holding the door open. The door can also be completely removed and tossed aside if desired. This is very helpful when the stairway to the second floor is shut off by an inward opening door. This may not work with all types of doors and frames, but it is a technique to keep in mind when nothing is available but you and your tool.

  2. Greg,

    Thanks for posting the comments! You bring up very valuable points that are often overlooked on the fireground. How many times have we all seen the screen door on the front door swinging back and forth because no one took the time to completely remove it. In regards to interior operations, I will steal one from my brother Lt. Mitchell that you can pop the closet door off in the hallway when you are in a need of closing off that basement fire that is creeping up the stairs. This is effective when you are on the truck and trying to steal a couple more minutes to effect that rapid search and the basement does not have a door or it is burned away. Thanks again for your post.

  3. God Bless all of our Fallen Bros… The thing we MUST realize as Boss’ is that often times as the Brothers are stretching& pushing in, they don’t sweat the small sh*t. Whether we are 1st in or 4th in& we see something that needs to be done, DO IT! Chasing kinks, wedging doors, securing roll up doors/garage doors. We are our Brothers keepers. I carry several wedges, vise grips& bungies in my gear to ensure that the line doesn’t leave our Brother running the line w/o water. This is one of the assignments that anyone can do to look out for one another. Even though you may not be in charge, saving our own is our objective. Everyone Goes Home! Be Safe!

    Excellent points and thanks for the post. You are correct that regardless of rank, arrival order, or unit assignment, we all have a responsibility to fix any problem which hinders us getting the job done!

    -Dan Shaw

  4. On my Ladder Truck, I took the HydraRam out of its bag. (I hate having it in there anyway) I made about 20 of the “cherry bomb” type of chocks using screw hooks instead of nails. I put them in the Hydra Ram bag and painted “Door Chocks” on both ends of the bag. For multiple/commercial occupancies, the Ladder Co. officer is supposed to take that bag. It is in the compartment with all the other tools for the Inside Team.

  5. Dan,
    In my company, our officers do give us the the wood wedge chocks for our coat pockets. From our in-house training and our Traditions classes we have learned how important it is to chock the doors. I was in the Fire Attack Class in October and saw your Cherry Bombs on your helmet. The day after the class I made a dozen of them and gave them to the other guys.

    There is one question that I forgot to ask you back in October: Why do you have those two notches in your E9 wedge? Is that so you can put it between the frame and the door? How long are the notches?

  6. Karl,

    Thanks for taking the time to post your comments and suggestions. I am equally glad you were able to use some of the ideas we have learned from.

    The notched wedges are for the Garden apartment entry doors that open above a large step eliminating the possibility of sliding it under the lower portion of the door. It is also for the wide spaced hinged door that would normally “eat” a wedge because the gap is so wide that when the door closes back on the wedge the door ends up almost being closed.

    The application is the same for the notched wedge in either situation. With the notches in the wedge, you can slide the wedge into the space between the door and frame sideways and rotate 90 degrees so that the notches now butt against the frame and door. This allows the door to fall into the notched space securely, chocking the door wide enough for you pass through. The notches size are made by the Firehouse grinder and are based on the doors size in my first due. Hope this helps, shoot me an email it you need more info and be safe.


  7. What is the most common size of each type of chock you carry? I’m sure the exact size will depend on the buildings in your area but is there an average size for most residential and/or commerical structures?

  8. Just saw a great tip from another brother that I thought I would pass along to you guys….. it may address the situation shown in the first picture (hose under door).

    If you have a hydra ram or other forcible entry tool (a halligan would do the trick too), put it under the door next to where the hose is pinched and pry up the door in the area where the line is pinched.

    While it may not work on every door, nor may it create enough space under the door to continue the hose advance, it may allow you enough space for WATER TO RETURN TO THE LINE. This may allow your crew to safely back out (with the protection of a hoseline) or hold what you have until the backup line arrives.

    Keep passing it on brothers….Happy New Year

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