Repetitive Forcible Entry Training – Muscle Memory

One of our greatest forcible entry challenges is getting firefighters repetitions, especially on commercial doors.  We made a trip to the Attica Venice Reed (AVR) Fire District with a homemade prop that helped get some reps for the firefighters.  The AVR FD is a progressive organization that really seems to get the morale and motivation up by training.  Check them out on Facebook.  For the rest of this post we will cover a few teaching points from the class in Attica and a modification to the prop for those that have been following it.  For previous posts on the prop, click here, here, here or type in forcible entry into the search box


Haligan Design

There are numerous designs of haligans on the market and it is definitely important to know how the tools on your rig will function in the field.  Check out the two types the AVR firefighters used.  Make note of the adz design.  The tool on the left has a shorter, straighter, and thicker design.  This will sometimes make it more difficult when (1) gapping the door because of the thickness and (2) forcing the door because the short length may slip out after setting.  The tool on the right has a thinner and curved design to the adz, which helped the AVR firefighters make quicker entry on the commercial side of the prop.  Bottom line, look at the differences in design of the tools on your rigs, then train with them.

Striking Position

The way the door swings will require some positional adjustments by the entry crew.  Through training you will gain more memory on where you want to be in relation to the door and your crew member.  The picture to the left shows a firefighter on one knee in the striking position, which puts him at eye level with the target.  Also, note the hand position of the firefighter holding the haligan (minimum 6″ back from the target).  When it’s time to force the door both firefighters will be moving to the right, away from the entry/ventilation opening.  Remember to control the door.  In the picture to the right, both firefighters are standing.  This is perfectly acceptable although the degree of hand-eye coordination is greater especially in this left-handed scenario for a right-handed firefighter.

Check out the The Pig they are swinging above, HERE

Filling The Gap

Let’s review the muscle memory we are trying to gain through repetition.  (1) Gap (2) Set (3) Force.  Now, to many times when we are gaining access through a commercial door, we loose the gap when a tool slips out or the metal springs us back.  Remember to fill the gap you get so you don’t have to start over.  Use wedges or other tools as seen in the picture below.

Residential Side

The residential side of the prop is more challenging than any residential door most have ever faced.  However it is just as beneficial for gaining reps and learning technique.  The video below is of Sandusky Firefighter Ryan Brotherton demonstrating a single firefighter technique on the residential side.  When watching the video, note the importance of gaining a gap and then keeping it.


Prop Modification

Vertical rebar cut station with frame damage from the K12.

New kick out on vertical cut station. Hoping for less frame damage.

Pass it on!