Door control is probably the least fun part of forcible entry, but one of the most important. Lets be honest, most doors we force do not have fire directly behind them. When forcing a door for a utility emergency, medical run, alarm investigation and the such is door control really that important? I think so. If you get in the habit of doing it every time you force a door it will be second nature when it really matters.
We know that each step of our systematic forcible entry process builds upon the previous step to increase the spread between the door and the jamb. It is imperative to be prepared to control the door at any time during the forcible entry process since any one of the steps could cause the door to release depending on how it is secured.
Many firefighters are taught to control the door with a piece of rope or webbing tied around the door knob. This does work but is not my preferred method. Most firefighters put a little thought into the equipment in their pockets and carry things for a specific purpose. Many of us carry things like rope and webbing for important functions such as bailing out or unconscious firefighter removal. If you use your webbing for door control are you really going to wrap it back up and put it back in your pocket before you go in or are you just going to leave it hanging on the knob? I personally carry a piece of utility rope as well for venting top floor windows from the roof or raising equipment. Why not use that? There are a few reasons such as it possibly getting in the way and in the case of a two person forcible entry team not having a person to hold the rope. The biggest disadvantage to this method is the natural tendency of the firefighter holding the rope to immediately pull the door shut when it forces. Deadbolts, vertical deadbolts, and slide bolts usually break or the receiver breaks when a door is forced. In most cases a latch will pull out of its keeper but not break. If the door is equipped with spring loaded latch as most are, it may re-lock. In the case of a magnetic lock, re-locking is an even greater possibility. Again, this method does work but I prefer to use the tools already in my hands rather than add this extra step.
The halligan is an excellent tool to control the door with. Hook the adz end around the leading edge of the door and pull it shut. Pretty simple right? If there is fire directly behind the door the firefighter with the halligan can direct the striking firefighter to put down the axe and grab a 6′ hook when the door is almost ready to release. When the door opens the door can easily be pulled closed with the hook. This method allows both firefighters to stay low and be protected by the door. Another advantage of using a tool to control the door is that it cannot close completely. The tool will keep the door open about 1″ which will prevent any locking devices from reengaging.
In many departments manpower is not as plentiful as we would like it to be. In some places those two firefighters that just forced the door may now have to go stretch a line. If you use a tool to control the door the tool can be layed on the ground and it will still hold the door closed but not allow any locks to reengage while the line is being stretched.
Practice makes perfect. Practice it the right way and you will do it the right way when it counts. Be safe!