Years ago we had a house fire. The crew on the roof couldn't get the saws to start so I handed them an axe. They young FF asked whats this for, I said to open the roof. Today's firefighters have it so so easy. In a discussion about responding someone said the tool isn't in good shape in the engine so we can't stop for MVC's. 

I'm thinking of putting together a class on using only certain tools, halligan bars, rapid tools, hack saws etc. As anyone else ever done this? If so what did you do. 

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Our local high school just finished its 15 year cycle and was being torn down. We approached the district board and they agreed to allow us the honor of interior demolition. We did a lot of work to this place. The "789" asphault/flat roof vent. Cement wall breach both hollow and unhollow. We had just about every type of door and lock normally available on school grounds. A lot of rit activities and even live fire evolutions. I wish I made some interactive videos but was without my video equipment during my crews tour of duty.

Knowing how, and being able, to operate on a scene and function with "Hand tools - only" is an imperative part of being a first responder. Whether you are fire, EMS or on a rescue; power tools (including pneumatic and hydraulic tools) will inevitably go out of service. You need to be able to function with the tools you have.

Just as in your example of the power tools not starting, the hand tools are there to serve a purpose. Running a MVC extrication using a chain, come-along, hack-saw and a pry bar should be a skill taught in fire academy and basic extrication classes. The same training elements involved can be applied as part of a self-rescue class or RIT training. Examples include: egress - when you need to go through a wall with your axe or halligan bar, rescue/RIT - what if you had to gain entry to a basement for a fellow firefighter that fell through the floor, or extrication - rolling a dash with hand tools. The experience of venting a roof with an axe is not soon forgotten.

In my opinion, having the knowledge and skill set to utilize hand tools in any type of operation that you would use power tools is a critical component to that operation. What is your back up when your power tools go down? Hand tools.

Many seasoned veterans can give great incite and lessons learned points on training development and practical deployment. You should definitely develop a program for hand tool training. It will only expand the knowledge and skills of your personnel.



My department attempted to conduct similar training where our Hydraulic Tools were out of service or what I referred to as "Plan B" extrication.  Most of the members did not like it as they were only in the mindset of the Hurst Tools.  

We had them remove the door by using a Halligan to access the hinges and use a socket set to remove the bolts - Took a little more time but was successful.  Another drill used a reciprocating saw to cut the posts to remove the roof.  For the vehicle on the side the saw could be used to open the roof as well with the Halligan to punch a hole for the saw blade - we also used an air chisel to cut the skin of the Roof.  We also discussed the use of the two port-a-power spreaders to work together to pop open the doors (this is what I was taught when I first joined the Fire Service). Another useful tool is the Cable or Chain come-a-long to pull open the door or to raise the rear of the vehicle. Ok they are not "Hand Tools" but do require hand operations to operate.

Some of the cable work could also be utilized with a tow truck cable but you need to work with the wrecker operator.  These were a few "Plan B" options we worked through as sometimes the Hydraulic Tools will be too difficult due to the location of the vehicle or the tool is just too big to get into a position to work safely.  Having other options might allow you to be active in extricating trapped victims. 

As far as one hand tool we have not had the chance to use is the one cutting pry bar that looks like a giant can opener, which was discussed for cutting sheet metal on car roofs as well.

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