Trics of the Trade: Window Gates, Bars and Barred Windows

The installation of security devices throughout the country has been on the increase for many years, and no matter where you live, it should be a concern for any firefighter that is going to be engaged during an interior attack.Slideshow Images:Trics of...


Storm Doors Constructed with Steel Bars

As stated earlier, these doors are constructed of steel and Lexan glass. They can be difficult to get through if you have not planned ahead for this type of encounter.

In photo 16 the steel door here was installed after they built a wood frame to fit the door into. It just may be easier to attack the wooden frame than to force entry through the door. In photo 17 the steel door here has a protective cover over the latch. Conventional forcible entry will still work on this door. It may take a little more sweat, but you can get through this.

And in photo 18 this steel door to the basement entrance will make entry more difficult because of the limited space you have to work in. If you're thinking you can just reach through the bars and turn the handle, give it a try, but chances are the double side key lock in engaged. Besides conventional forcible entry, don't forget the rotary saw with the aluminum oxide abrasive disc. It is still a viable option, especially in photo 19. Look how this door is attached. On the hinged side there are two metal bars recessed in to the concrete wall. Perhaps if we cut them we will be able to pry the whole door out of the way.

Steel Enclosures

In some cases you may find what seems to be a steel fortress. They are no more difficult to get in to than any other building; we just have to use our ingenuity. Photos 20 and 21 show homes surrounded by gates that may or may not be locked. Once again they could have double key locks and we may have to use the saw to get through these.

In photo 21, this person has caged himself in and made a pretty secure area to sit outside and watch what's going on in the neighborhood. Once again, take the saw to this and make steel toothpicks out of it! We need to have as much area to work as possible.

The down side of this is the roof. It is made of aluminum and will not support a fully geared up firefighter. In photo 22 you can see the aluminum cover and light weight aluminum roof beams. They are spaced about 25 inches apart and it gives you plenty of room to fall through without an obstruction. Also take notice of how the ledger is attached. It is shot in to the brick and mortar and I would not recommend using this as a platform for our type of work. Once again, this is where you may want to get a tower ladder on the scene for second floor work from the outside.

In photo 23 we have a nice Caribbean theme going on here. The concrete walls and steel entry door keep out the undesirables...and us. Go for the steel door just like any other steel door, the concrete is not going to yield easily.

Steel Gates Found around the Exterior

The exterior steel gates in photo 24 have a double key lock and to get through it you can use the rotary saw with the abrasive disc, as mentioned earlier. The main point of this particular gate is the hinges. Many times when these are constructed the gates are just dropped on to the hinges and that's that. Notice the technique being used in photo 25. It is just so easy and you can move the whole gate out of the way to access the rear occupancy in the photo. Just pry upward and lift the gate right off the hinge pin.

Child Gates

Last but not least, the final photo, number 26, is a child gate. Terminology is so important on the fireground. The chief officers are painting a picture of the operations based on the information we are giving them. DO NOT tell a chief officer that you have window bars when, in fact, you merely have child gates. They are easily removed and if you told the Chief you have window bars when they were child gates, well, I guess you get the picture, and it's not pretty.

In conclusion, operations at these types of buildings can be life threatening to us and to the occupants. The best way to protect all involved is by early identification of the hazard, pre-planning, proper communication and coordinated operations. This is how we will assure a safe and successful operation. These are just some Trics of the Trade.