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Let's Talk Fire: Try Before You Pry and Twist Before You Kick

Updated on March 1, 2011

I know it's fun but....

As a certified firefighter with two separate departments I can honestly say few things carry the thrill factor of smashing out a window or kicking a door clean off it's hinges. Most firefighters would agree with that statement fully, in fact the most popular training classes for firefighters are ones that involve forced entry. To many of us in the field forced entry is the Stanley Cup of fire ground operations. The only real problem is that breaking a window or splintering a door is in many ways a violation of our second priority, property protection. In some cases there is no other option but to bring down that door or take out the window. Maybe the room attached to the window is nearing flashover and you need to cool it ASAP. If that's the case and there is no time to check to see if you can just open it than by all means take it out in a safe way. Perhaps a child is left home alone and the building is involved in fire, if the door is locked by all means kick that sucker down. But, for God's sake check the handle first.


What about those unrushed moments?

Let's assume you need to bring a hoseline into the structure through a living room window. The urge to bust that badboy out will be there but common sense should override that decision! Check to see if the window can be opened first. Alright, let's say the fire is in a side room and you need to stretch a line into the back door in case of fire spread. Oddly many firefighters would dart to that back door and Dane Cook it to the ground. The only problem there is they failed to check and see if it was opened before they kicked it like a punt at the Super Bowl. When kicking a door in or breaking out a window you create several unnecessary problems. The first is in the event the fire in question is arson you now have to explain to an arson investigator why you did what you did without checking to see if the window or door could have simply been open. Let me tell you this is not a pleasant situation to find yourself in. I had to explain to an arson investigator why a fellow firefighter felt the need to kick in a door to a part of the building that was not on fire, after the fire was out and during overhaul. Not a good thing to do. There is no justification in it.

The second problem is in the event you save the house you have cost the owner more money for repairs by destroying something that may not have needed to be destroyed. The damage caused by the flame is enough, there is no need for us to add to that unless we absolutely have to. I have seen firefighters way to eager to take down a door that it drives them more the need to help people. So remember, try that window before you pry that window, and before you kick that door in like a madman give the handle a little twist. Stay safe!



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