Bevel to the… door? jamb?

The debate among firefighters over the correct way to set the halligan is as common as the age old smooth-bore vs. fog nozzle debate.  Both techniques, much like the nozzles, have their time and place.  Setting the halligan with the bevel of the fork towards the door is the correct and most efficient technique in most cases.  The pictures below speak for themselves and illustrate why having the bevel towards the door is advantageous.  It's simple, more spread and a better chance of forcing the door without having to employ additional steps and techniques. 

3 inches of spread can be achieved when the halligan is set with the bevel of the fork towards the door and the tool is pushed flush to the door.

2.25 inches of spread can be achieved when the halligan is set with the bevel of the fork towards the jamb.

So why do some firefighters choose to set the tool with the bevel towards the jamb?  The biggest reasons are lack of training and because it is easier.  There is no doubt that the tool will set easier with the bevel facing the jamb.  The easiest way to do something is usually not the best.  It takes more training and practice to be able to "steer" the forks between the door and the jamb with the bevel towards the door.  When the fork is set with the bevel towards the jamb less spread cab be achieved for two reasons.  First the natural curve of the fork provided additional spread when used with the bevel towards the jamb.  Second, the halligan can not be pushed flush with the door in this orientation due to the adz coming in contact with the door. 

As stated above, using the halligan with the bevel towards the jamb does have its place – actually two places.  The first instance that may necessitate this orientation of the tool is an extremely tight door.  If the door is too tight to set the tool with the bevel towards the door, flip the tool over and get back to work.  The second instance is an odd hallway configuration.  If the adz of the halligan is obstructed by a wall, railing, or some other hindrance the tool can be flipped over to bypass the obstruction. 

Only proper practice will improve technique and effectiveness.  Practicing incorrectly doesn't help and often instills false hope and a false sense of security in tactics that will not work in the real world.  When practicing forcible entry techniques, practice with the fork both ways while keeping in mind that the bevel should be towards the door most of the time.


  • IRONSandLADDERS says:

    Right on, I always love this debate. I think Brassard said a while back on our blog that this is the truckies version of smooth v.s. fog. What’s great about making this an argument is it brings a better understanding of the tool to everyone. It seems like we have found the majority of firefighters have not been taught the difference between the two sides of the bevel. As professionals understanding the design of the tool, leverage in general, and knowing when to use what side is appropriate, is our job as tradesman.

  • IRONSandLADDERS says:

    I guess the one thing I would add is another time where bevel to the jamb is a good choice would be one person operations. I know everywhere may not use that tactic but it is reality many places. Striking a Halligan that you are also guiding should almost always be done bevel to the jamb in my opinion. It is difficult to obtain enough force from a one person strike to set the tool in a time effective manner. Here is one I wrote a while back also with just a little different spin on it if anyone is interested. There are some great comments on the bottom by a few of the Brotherhood Instructors offering up some knowledgeable advice.
    Great article and reminder. Well done guys.
    Ryan Royal

  • J Martin says:

    Bevel to the door also allows for a more natural striking position (FDNY FE Ref Guide) for the team as the tool will be more perpendicular to the door.

    J Martin
    Delmar, NY

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