Friday, September 30, 2011

Tactical Safety: Forcible Frustration

Forcible Frustration

By Ray McCormack

Have you ever experienced forcible frustration? You know, that special moment when the door you’re beating up punches back hitting you straight in the ego. Some doors are much better at resisting your forcible entry skills than others; some are set up to crush even the best practitioners. That’s why you should always carry “Humblers” insurance, so that when you meet your match, the secondary wallop from your coworkers should subside rather quickly. That’s only if you have minded your manners in the past and have resisted bragging over lesser opponents.

Sometimes it is the door that fights back and sometimes it is all about you and your lack of skill that gives the best fight. This occurs for several reasons: one of course is that the firefighter involved does not know what they are doing. I say firefighter singularly because the one with the Halligan is where the skill is centered. I never had a problem swinging the axe for an under experienced “Irons” because I knew that I would not waste my swings on a poorly positioned Halligan. Once you gain that understanding you will now be assisting with entry beyond just the power and accuracy of your swing.

Skill levels are best put to the test on tough doors. While formula-based entry is popular and assists many to remember what may be needed: step C, as step A can also work. I like to place my hands on the door to get its pulse and state “No ‘Shock’ Advised.” Which of course, I see as humorous and others see as step jumping and uncomfortable. When I worked as a firefighter, the irons position was not as democratic as I see today. If you were the ‘Jonnie,’ you assisted the irons firefighter until your graduation to another position. The benefit of course was that you learned by watching and developed a keen eye for spotting potential problems early while often enjoying forcible frustration as it played out on gifted firefighters.

As the swinger who delivers the force, you will see some interesting twists to gaining entry. It is not unusual to have to play along for a little while when some unorthodox or seemingly odd events take place in front of you on bended knee. Just remember to use your SA (Situational Aroundness) to evaluate whether what you’re witnessing is going to work or not. Number one on the top ten list, that the firefighter with the irons has no clue of, is when you see them spinning the Halligan around like they’re trying out for baton twirling team. “Houston, we have a problem!”

If our swinger is bad or weak, you may have to switch with the cheeseburger and manage both halves of the entry. This way at least power will be delivered to the Halligan. Do you want the door opened or not? You have to capitalize on your knowledge and that includes the realization that the firefighter with the axe stinks, and to get the door you will do the hitting while directing the Halligan’s movements, too. Don’t let your forcible frustration gab hold to such an extent that you become crippled – entry must be gained.

If the entry difficulty is manifested as a lack of skill, hydraulic entry is an option. If the problem is the door and its locks, the hydraulic ‘helper’ may work. Because you cannot always use the hydraulic entry tool due to door type your forcing, craft comes into play even more because of these limiting options. Your tactical safety is heightened when your forcible frustration is low. Knowing which tools to use and how to use them can stop a cheeseburger from giving you heartburn.

Next Tactical Safety – Demolition Derby