Gap-Set-Force with a Twist

   Many times, forcible entry drills involve firefighters using a flathead axe and halligan to force a door. This is a basic skill that all firefighters must be proficient at performing. For this month’s forcible entry drill however, I want to share an unconventional forcible entry drill I conducted with my crew a few weeks ago. The objective is to get hands-on, practical knowledge about leverage and mechanical advantage. 

   In preparation, gather a deck of cards, select a diverse range of hand tools from the apparatus, set-up the forcible entry door prop, and, of course, wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). By selecting a diverse range of tools, this drill encourages firefighters to use tools creatively in order to apply force and mechanical advantage to successfully force entry.

Rules to the game:

   1. Draw a card 

   2. The suit will determine the type of door 

   3. Whether the card is odd or even will determine which parts of the halligan the first firefighter can use

   4. The number on the card will determine the tool used by the second firefighter. 

   *Note: Only use cards assigned to a tool and remove all other cards from the deck. For the example provided, only use cards Ace through 9. 

   5. Working together, the two firefighters get 60 seconds to force the door.

   6. If unable to force the door in 60 seconds, revert back to using the conventional married pair to force the door.

   This was a fun, quick company level drill that forced participants to think outside the box when given an unconventional pair of tools. For an additional challenge, consider constructing a wall adjacent to the door prop, thus limiting the space available for firefighters to work within. You can see in the pictures we used a pallet to achieve this added difficulty.

Training Objectives

   Upon completion the firefighter should be able to….

   • Apply force and mechanical advantage to successfully force a door. 

   Cole Kleinwolterink is a member of the Waukee Fire Department, Granger Fire Department, and Fire Science instructor at Des Moines Area Community College. View the Training Article Archives at






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