igh-security padlocks have been in existence
since the early 1900s and have been presenting
firefighters with forcible entry challenges for
more than 100 years. Long before power tools
became readily available and fire departments were blessed
with dedicated forcible entry saws, firefighters were gaining
entry into commercial occupancies using conventional entry
techniques. In this article, I am going to revisit traditional
lock breakers, explain conventional lock breaking techniques,
and discuss the merits of carrying them as part of your
forcible entry cache.
The earliest lock breakers date back to the 1900s and
the Kelly tool and at one time were considered an integral
component of the forcible entry arsenal. With the advent of
the power saw and the aluminum oxide blade, the traditional
lock breaker gave way to the forcible entry power saw, but in
my opinion there is still a place for traditional lock breakers
in modern day forcible entry.
There is no doubt that a power saw with a metal cutting
blade is a formidable weapon when you are faced with
multiple case-hardened locks at a commercial building fire.
Unfortunately, because of simple economics, it is rare for
many fire departments to run with more than one power
saw on a frontline apparatus. Most departments must
weigh the odds and outfit their apparatus based on the
laws of probability. When carrying only one saw on the
first-due apparatus, we must decide which type of blade
we are going to keep on our saw. The laws of probability in
most response areas would indicate that we are more likely
to respond to a residential dwelling fire than a commercial
building fire. Therefore, we equip our saw with a wood
cutting blade to perform vertical ventilation. This thought
process makes perfect sense and is exactly how we do it in
Conventional methods for taking padlocks
BY PAUL DEBARTOLOMEO
1: A duckbill lock breaker.
(Photos by author.)
2: A pipe wrench
with a breaker bar.