Growing up I played lacrosse, not the typical hockey that most Canadian kids played. I was fortunate enough to play at a very high level and had the privilege of playing for some great coaches. They taught me not only about the game of lacrosse but great lessons about life that I carried over into the fire service. I had one coach that always said “you can’t learn this game in a book; you have to get out on the floor and play the game”. I could not agree more, to truly learn this job aggressive and realistic training along with experience is required. That being said my coach would also say “you want to be great at this game, be a student of the game”, I would see my Coach constantly looking at plays, statistics, equipment, etc. and he was a true student of the game and one of the best players ever to play box lacrosse. The point is that you need the knowledge and the understanding of what you’re doing to go along with your hands on training. We would practice some days until we would literally be throwing up on the floor, we would also spend some days in the class room in front of the chalk board going over plays. This was just as important to the development as us as lacrosse players and a team as going out and throwing the ball around the floor. We are going to look at a quick drill that you can do at your firehouse, this type of drill we call “chalk talk”.
Chalk talk drills are those types of drills that are great for rainy days, these types of drills are good because they often get great discussions going and it allows some of the senior members in the company to pass along their experiences and knowledge to the younger guys. Some of the best training that I have ever done has been sitting at the kitchen table, around the tailboard of the rig, or sitting in front of a white board talking shop with a warm cup of coffee and the company of some great firemen. Not all training has to be blood, sweat, and tears, here is a good “rainy day” forcible entry drill that you can do with your crew.
Forcible Entry Size up Drill
A hard thing to practice and drill on is forcible entry size up. One thing I use to do was go out and take pictures of doors in our area, we would put them into a PowerPoint and then talk about methods for forcing entry into these buildings. It was great training and great discussions with guys. We would talk about the different locks that they were dealing with and the methods and tools that they would use for getting in. Great debates, discussions, and arguments would steam from the slideshows. The problem with this method was that it was time consuming to go out gather the photos and then put the PowerPoint together, the training had great value it was just not something that could be done at the drop of a hat if the crew says “let’s do some training”. Also it does not take long for the guys to get tired of looking at and talking about the same doors over and over again.
To try to add some variety to the training and be able to put the training on I set out to make a series of props that would allow me to do quick, realistic, and optionless forcible entry size up training. I wanted to build a series of magnetic locks that could be stuck onto any regular metal door in the firehouse, out doing building inspections, etc. These locks would look exactly (or as close to it as possible) like their real lock counterparts. I took the basic type locks that me and the crews in my fire department would encounter during a forcible entry operation, these locks included:
- Key in the Knob Locks
- Tubular Deadbolts
- Rim Locks
- Rim Cylinder Guards
- Carriage Bolts (drop bars, slide bolts, etc.)
After I narrowed down the most common type locks that I wanted to simulate I made a trip to a local machining shop and had them mill out exact likenesses of a key in the knob lock and a couple of tubular deadbolts, because of the weight associated with making these locks out of metal PVC was used instead. On the backside of the locks a counter sunk hole was drilled and then a heavy duty magnet was secured into place using epoxy. To make the cylinder guards, 10 gauge metal plates were cut to the size of a standard cylinder guard. After the cylinder guards were cut ¼ inch carriage bolt heads were welded on the corners and then magnetic stripping was added to the backside of the guards. Finally, ¼ inch carriage bolts were taken and the threaded rod was cut off the back leaving just the heads, a hole was counter sunk into the back of the carriage bolt head and a magnate was held in place with epoxy. Having these magnet props allows you to gather the crew around any metal door in the firehouse and set up any forcible entry scenario your imagination can dream up. These drills at my firehouse have been invaluable; the guys at the station love it and get very engaged in the discussion about tactics and forcible entry size up.
This will be the first article in a series of articles that will give you great training ideas that you can do at your firehouse. If you want to train you can train.