Over the course of my tenure as a firefighter I have not had to do a lot of forcible entry. This year we had 2 . Both resulted in saves with minimal fire and smoke damage to the house. Due to the type of locks --through the lock entry was not possible so we had to force the door causing about $1,000 in damage. While much less than the entire home we saved I am always looking for ways to further reduce damage.
Here is a question for more senior folks;
Is breaking the window a better option than forcing a door ?
The problem I can see is once the window is broken it's gone this can affect ventilation control,weather damage and security that unless you cover with plywood you can not easily recover from. Of course breaking the window means you have to get to a door to get others in and is certainly not as easy ingress or egress if you have to get out before you get to the door.
I would think window replacement is cheaper than door and door frame but it is easier to re-secure the structure by nailing the door closed when you leave than carrying/cutting/ and nailing up plywood. It also allow you to close the door to help ventilation control if needed.
Mark, it comes down to the situation and circumstances you encounter for each call. Yes forcing a door can be expensive to fix and I have seen some cases where the only part broken was the jam which was minimal. But breaking some windows can be extremely expensive as well. Especially with the newer energy efficient windows now days. I guess it comes down to the type of door and how it is forced. Bottom line is gaining access quickly to extinguish the fire or rescue victims. Whats a door or window cost to that response?
we had to use the big irons to force the door as the deadbolt lock in the last case was flush with the door. First time I had seen this but certainly gave me the impression that a K tool could not work
Mark, first off, we don't care how much it costs to remediate any damage done due to forcible entry IF there is a life safety hazard that we have to deal with. With that said, and as Tom Barrett wrote, the homeowners insurance will cover any needed repairs. What's worse, replacing the front door or the whole house? This is the mindset for the insurance companies. Taking the extra time to go through a window may or may not be appropriate depending on what's going on inside the house.
Now if you pull up to the structure, and note that you cannot see inside any of the windows and smoke seems to be puffing in and out from under the roof eaves... well, maybe you might want to think twice about breaking a window until you have accomplished both a hot lap around the structure to assess access points, kill the utilities and coordinate your ventilation group with your interior attack folks... just a thought...
Bottom line... read the building, and remember that life comes first, then property. Never hesitate to get into a structure fire due to cost considerations. Take the time to make the determination what course of action should be taken and don't John Wayne you way into a structure until you have appropriate resources on scene and in place. You'll do no one any good if your crew gets taken out...
Doors. I've only twice seen entry made through a window, both times where we could see that the smoke source was something over-cooking on a stove with no fire spread. If we see or suspect damaging fire it's up to the insurance to cover damage. As we request police attendance after any forcible entry we happily leave it to them to cover security after we're finished!
We do a lot of forcible entry. The old stand-by always works. The irons are the most effective set of tools we carry. If you become proficient with them, the damage is usually minimal. We even use them to open vehicle doors if the jaws are a ways off. I have never encountered a door that could stand up to the irons.
I would have my crew take the door although they would probably be way a head of me if it was a fire situation. We would either use a heavy foot or the haligan tool, I have used both with good success.
A matter of fact, we have took a door recently on a medical...i was surprised as to how easy and cheap it looked when my crew kicked it. When we need to make entry for an EMS situation we try windows and other means before we cause undo damage.