Forcible Entry: Conducting The Size-Up

Robert Morris sizes up the most effective methods of forcible entry at secured buildings in emergency and non-emergency situations.


Providing entry at secured buildings is one of the most important operations that firefighters must perform. A high level of security is common in most urban areas, and is becoming more routinely encountered in the suburban areas as well. Although primarily considered a truck operation...


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Steel doors. Steel doors are usually hollow or have wood-core interiors covered with metal. These doors vary in weight and strength. They are usually hung in steel frames. When they are set in masonry walls, they may be very strong, and can be challenging to force.

Locks and security devices. The types of locks, the number of locks, and their location is a major factor in forcible entry. Different locks will fail in a different manner. Knowledge of the characteristics of the locks you may encounter will increase your ability to gain entry. Some common locks widely used include the Mortise lock, knob and key lock, tubular deadbolts, rimlocks, slide bolts, and bars.

Survey

A visual and hands-on observation of the door is the final step of size-up and the first step of forcing the door. The survey consists of the following pages:

  1. Feel for heat.
  2. Try the door. Is it locked?
  3. Which way does the door swing?
  4. Check for resistance by pushing the door at the top, bottom and center.
  5. Force by best method.
  6. Maintain control of the door.

Knowledge, experience and the ability to keep cool under pressure are some of the traits the "irons man" must have. At many operations the forcible entry firefighter is the most important member and must perform well under all conditions.


Captain Robert Morris, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 25-year member of the FDNY and the commander of Ladder Company 28.