Break and enter – fire services switch to tactical forcible entry tools
Published: 12 March, 2012
Modern buildings are designed to keep people out – making the job harder for the fire service to get in. Luckily, manufacturers are coming to the rescue by launching dedicated tool sets that open doors and break locks with accuracy.
Modern building construction is designed to keep people out which is why rescue equipment manufacturer Paratech has now come up with a modular tactical response kit that enables users to gain access to just about any type of standing or collapsed structure, with a minimum of damage.
The Tactical Forcible Entry kit comes in a backpack that contains a tactical bolt cutter, a modular battering ram with an option of three different shaped heads (cone, dome and ball), and a 24” tactical hooligan bar. In addition, users can also choose optional tools which include: the TRK sledgehammer; the Percussive Response tool and chisels or the Tactical Response Kit with up to 10 different tools. The beauty of the system is that all the TRK tools are interoperable, and allow for increased precision when gaining entry.
Francesco Rossetti, Regional Manager (Southern Europe) for Paratech, explains that the Modular Battering Ram (MBR) enables the end-user to have threepoint interoperability in a battering ram. The idea originated from conversations with Paratech’s military customers, who required portable tools that all came in one bag. Francesco explains: “Most battering rams have flat faces, the problem with that is that if you do not hit the target 100% flat and square, you are not transferring the energy. This means that most of your efforts will go to waste, especially when you are working over your head. Therefore we designed the dome head, which ensures that whenever impact is created, the target is hit somewhere on the curvature. The majority of the energy is thus transferred to the curve of the dome, meaning that you will get a lot more result out of the swing. In short: less effort equals more result.”
The MBR comes fully adaptable with the dome, the ball and the cone, which all have their own application. The dome head is suitable for delivering maximum impact energy, for instance to break down a door. The ball head is used for reinforced glass and oddly shaped objects, and the cone head is ideal for piercing metal and concrete, such as a reinforced lock. All heads have been engineered to the highest precision and maximum performance, adds Francesco, since some emergency services could be held responsible for any property or structural damage caused by their interventions.
The MBR kit contains a coupler that allows the user to connect two battering ram bodies and convert the MBR for a two-person operation. The tool becomes even more versatile due to the fact that each end can hold a different attachment, so there is the option to quickly change strategy when required. The different modules are easy to connect and disconnect with the click of a button. The handles on the MBR are fully adjustable and have been purposefully designed to be held by anybody. The integrated knuckle guards surround the foam grips to minimise operator shock and impact stress. Francesco adds that some services currently carry “homemade” battering rams on their vehicles.
“Security is a great problem, because people want to keep other people out of their property. Fire and police services get around this issue by making their own tools by welding pieces of metal together. However, that will not provide them with the right ergonomics, and can often cause rotational injuries or twisted wrists.”
Currently the MBR is extremely popular with SWAT teams and police, says Francesco, while fire services normally tend to buy the whole Tactical Forcible Entry range. SWAT teams normally require one tool that can do three jobs in a backpack. The complete range with backpack weighs up to 18kg, and fire services can store them on the fire engine. This saves space, because it eliminates the need for a designated locker for hand tools. “It means that they can grab the bag, put it in the staging area and they have all the entry tools at hand. They could even carry additional material while transporting the backpack. By placing a simple seal on the pack it eliminates daily checks.”
Francesco emphasises that the tools come with an unlimited lifetime warranty: “With these types of tools this is a challenge, because we know that they will be using them to batter, pry, and cut to destruction as much as possible, because they really have to force things to their maximum capacity. I recently visited a police service where they were forcing a fire proof safe open. It took them all of 10 minutes before the doors came off.”
The tactical entry tool kit can be carried with the full range of equipment or – for instance for USAR response – users can just carry the essential tools for that particular operation. Since it comes in a backpack it is easy to transport and users have the full complement of modular breaching and breaking, cutting and bolt cutting equipment, plus a Hooligan Bar for prying, lifting and moving. The Tactical Response Kit has 10 different tools to choose from and these can be individually selected to create an individual kit. Fire services, SWAT teams and police forces all over Europe and the US have been extremely keen to take up this system, and Francesco concludes that Paratech will keep on developing the Tactical Response Kit according to end-user requirements.