mechanism, we want to ensure that we can remove the
PIPE WRENCH AND HALLIGAN
lock from the gate without having to turn it, which the
heel and toe system prevents. By creating enough sepa-
ration of the shackle, or by driving the hasp completely
off, the lock can be easily removed from the staple on
the gate (photo 5).
Another tool we can use to force a case-hardened
padlock is a 24-inch pipe wrench fitted with a
breaker bar. The breaker bar is simply a piece
of pipe two inches in diameter placed over the
handle of the wrench to increase leverage. What
is nice about this operation is that it can be
performed by one firefighter, and it is relatively
easy to do so multiple locks can be forced with
The first thing we must do is pull the lock
away from the gate to grasp the body of the lock (photo
6). Next, we want to place the teeth of the wrench
firmly and squarely on the body of the lock with the
handle and breaker bar at a 90-degree angle to the hasp
(photo 7). Once the wrench is set, we want to exert
pressure on the handle, rotating it 180 degrees (photo
8). This rotation will exert a tremendous amount of
torque on the shackles (photo 9), causing them to fail
(photo 10). As was the case with the duckbill, we may
have to reset the wrench and spin the lock again to
defeat the heel and toe mechanism.
Another option, in lieu of the pipe wrench, is to use
the halligan to twist the lock off the gate. Simply place
the forks over the hasp, grabbing both legs of the lock
(photo 11). Once the forks are securely set, rotate the
tool to generate torsion and snap the hasp (photo 12).
Continue rotating the tool to separate the hasp from the
lock body to remove it from the gate.
TRIED AND TRUE
These are but a few options when conditions on the
fireground present us with a situation where we need
two saws for initial operations but only have one. The
duckbill and the pipe wrench have survived the test of
time and have been successfully used countless times by
seasoned firefighters in lieu of the power saw. With
proper training and a little technique, you will be well
on your way to forcing these locks the old fashion way,
and it sure beats cutting the roof with the ax!
Paul DeBartolomeo has been a member of the fire service for more
than 20 years in both the career and volunteer ranks. He is an 18-year
veteran of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), where he is
assigned to Ladder Company 28 in Harlem. DeBartolomeo is a nationally certified Pro-Board instructor and an adjunct instructor for the
Connecticut Fire Academy and provides lectures and hands-on training
nationwide. He was a lead instructor for an FDIC H.O. T. evolution as
well as a classroom presenter.
9: The rotation will exert a tremendous amount of torque on the shackles.
10: Torque on the shackles causes them to fail.
11: Place the forks over
the hasp, grabbing both
legs of the lock.
12: Rotate the tool
to generate torsion
and snap the hasp.