of pressure. That is usually enough pressure
to at least expose the locking bolts. A rescue
saw or a Sawzall with a metal cutting blade
can be inserted into the gap to cut the bolts.
The same evolution would be applied to
doors with multiple locks. The W-Tool can
spread the door jamb, exposing the locking bolts. It can be left in place without losing the applied hydraulic pressure so it is
hands-free. Again, you can insert a rescue
saw or Sawzall with a metal cutting blade
into the space to cut through the bolts, freeing the door.
The Destructive Evolution
Drawbacks to the Irons
Traditional forcible entry techniques
with the irons are effective but require
training and practice to be good at them.
We all know the merits of an experienced
forcible entry team, but let’s look at some of
the drawbacks and hazards associated with
the irons. First, it’s a two-person operation.
The firefighter with the halligan needs to
place the tool in the right spot; otherwise, if
the door can’t be forced, the bar needs to be
repositioned. It’s possible to get the curve of
the fork backward—limiting your leverage.
The firefighter using the flathead ax will
need to forcefully strike the halligan numerous times to drive the tool into the door
frame. If he misses, he runs the risk of striking his partner in the hand or in the head.
Visualize a narrow exterior stairway
down to a basement door that needs to be
breached. Good luck trying to fit two plan-et-size firefighters with bunker gear and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) at the
base of the stairs, much less having the clearance to swing a flathead ax onto a halligan.
That becomes a saw operation. This scenario
is challenging enough—now add smoke with
limited or zero visibility, and the evolution
becomes downright dangerous.
Once the halligan is properly set, the
firefighter has to use brute strength to
leverage and force the door. This action
requires pushing, pulling, and twisting of
the upper torso. There have been numerous
back and muscle injuries associated with
this job hazard. The fulcrum of the halligan
increases the leverage and force a firefighter can apply to a door, but it won’t be 6,000
The W-Tool can overcome all of these
challenges. It’s a self-contained, one-per-
son, door-breaching forcible entry tool that
requires very little training and practice
to become an expert. The tool does all the
work so personal injury is greatly reduced.
There’s even a mounted LED light to illumi-
nate the target area.
In addition to the horizontal uses, the
W-Tool is fully functional in the vertical
position so it has other tactical applications.
For example, it can be used like a jack in
vehicle stabilization, a rescue strut, a structural support of collapsed or compromised
buildings, and confined space and trench
rescues. There’s also a kit with straps so it
can be placed high in the doorway to hang a
smoke ejector or a fan. The applications are
really subject to the imagination.
The W-Tool has numerous interchangeable heads for various applications but
comes with the flat breaching head. The
accessory Quick-Change Tip Kit is extra and
comes with a “V” block rescue head, a multipurpose head, a joint and joist support head,
a chisel point, a spear point, a 45-degree
cutting point, and a chain purchase point.
The W-Tool is an excellent tool for emergency medical services companies as well.
When we go on “check the welfare” calls and
the automatic medical alert calls where the
patient has fallen and just needs help getting off the floor, we don’t need to cause
unnecessary damage to their residence.
I wish I could have had the W-Tool the
night of the Masonic Temple fire; they’d
still have a door. Since then, they’ve made
the A-tool, the K-tool, the halligan, and the
Rabbit tool. I guess I just had to wait until
they got to the Ws!
RAUL A. ANGULO, a veteran of the Seattle
( WA) Fire Department and captain of Ladder
Company 6, has more than 30 years in the fire
service. He is a member of the Fire Apparatus &
Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board.
He lectures on fire service leadership, company
officer development, and fireground strategy
and accountability throughout the United States,
Canada, and Mexico.