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I know we’re called Firefighter Basics. I was actually wondering if this subject was TOO basic to cover. It’s not. We went on a run the other day and the officer told the 5 year guy to chock the door. The 5 year guy reaches up to his helmet and lo and behold the 2 chocks that he wears to balance out his helmet were missing. He says “My chock is missing”. The way he phrased it made it seem like it’s not his fault made my mouth drop. (He didn’t say “I don’t have one.”). The second reason I stared at him like he was and idiot was because we were in a crappy building with litter, debris and CRAP everywhere. I carry a chock block and have only used it once, to help pop a car door, I only have one chock and I know it’ll magically disappear if I use it somewhere. So here is a quick primer on “chocking” that door.
Remember; the Fire Service is goal oriented. When we do a job there is a mission to accomplish and steps that need to happen along the way. What are the goals of chocking the door?
- We can get out easily if needed, no locked doors behind us.
- Others can get to our location easily, no locked doors in front of our back-up.
- Cause no damage or as little as possible if appropriate.
- Walk out with all of our equipment.
There are 2 basic ways to chock the door, the first is so its wide open with unobstructed access, and the second is to prevent it from securing. Preventing the door from securing is usually pretty simple; obstruct the frame, wrap the latching hardware or some sort of complex remove the cylinder process (I’m not a fan). Preventing the door from securing is the most reliable, the door will usually hold these things in place, they may fall out the first time the door is used but that may be all that is needed. Propping the door wide open is actually more complicated because whatever you use has to be heavy enough or wedged in adequately to hold the door open reliably
Honestly the highest demand for propping a door open is on the routine medical calls where the apparatus arrives before the ambulance. An example is a semi-secure building with a desk guy or a buzz to enter building. The goal is to allow the door to be opened without someone there. All of these will work and I prefer to use a magazine or flyer of some type at these places.
Everyone loves to talk about chocking a door at a fire. “Door control is paramount” true, but at a legit fire I don’t give a shit about the door, put the Adz end of the halligan behind the hinges and pop the bottom ones free, the door will shift and sit on the ground. If you need to shut it the top hinge is still in place and the door can be closed if needed. Understand I’m not talking about forced entry here.
During the setup a multi-agency drill, a conversation was started after a prop that was going to be used was built. The conversation covered when to remove a firefighter from the prop that will be used as apart of an Air Management course. The statement was made a firefighter starts to lose it you remove them from the prop. My feelings of course is that you allow them to stay there and work it out. My feelings are this way because, I feel that we are giving firefighters a false sense of security. Allowing them to believe that there is going to be a hand to just reach in and grab you when your in trouble. Firefighters who have experienced being lost and disoriented, or running out air know that this is not so. It was said to me that it seems like we just want firefighters to fail this particular skill by allowing them to panic and not pulling them out. My thoughts are the failure would be to pull them out and build that falsehood that help is always going to be right there. The basics are simple and plain if and when you get jammed because if your a firefighter going into structure fires you will, its simple you panic you could very well DIE! Yes I said it! Its a harsh reality, but true. You have to have a survival attitude and training to go along with it. So I ask you the fire service where is the failure. Is failure allowing firefighters to be pulled out because they panic, or Failure not to let them panic and hammer the point home?