How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

To save lives and goods, firefighters should guarantee their safety first so that they can limit the risks and face more and more challenges. Personal hand firefighters’ tools should be meticulously selected to support them in their noble missions perfectly. A firefighter using efficient and trusted equipment will definitely feel more confident and motivated to give his best during the most complicated missions.

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

This article gives recommendations to optimize your firefighters’ hand tools choice.

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Three relevant criteria to consider before choosing any personal hand tool for firefighters:

1. Safe tools for safe interventions

Personal hand tools for firefighters should be safe to support them to better accomplish their missions. These specific tools should be manufactured with safe and durable materials that resist extreme conditions (fire, water, ice, chemicals…). In addition,   the design should certainly limit all injuries risks for the firefighter as well as for the rescued persons. However, it shouldn’t limit the mobility, the vision or the comfort of the firefighter. In addition, all the necessary protections for blades or any sharp tools or parts should be taken into consideration.

2. Handy tools to focus on your target

Personal hand firefighters’ tools’ major role is to facilitate their challenging missions. Accordingly, we should opt for ergonomic designs that guarantee free mobility, excellent gloved hands grip, access to pockets or other tools, convenient size and perfect fit, and adequate weight to maintain ideal balance for the body.

3. Efficient tools to succeed in your missions

In addition to being safe and handy, firefighters’ tools should also be efficient. Operating in critical and stressful conditions doesn’t usually give them enough time to think or to try different options. Firefighters should rely on the most efficient tools to accomplish their operations in less time and limit the risks as much as possible.

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Specific features for specific personal hand firefighters’ tools

Unmissable rules to optimize your hand firefighters’ tools still: safe, handy and efficient. However, there are a few other specific criteria related to the kind of tool.

Flashlights (Personal, Helmet, Right-Angle)

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters
e flashlight with strap isolated on white background

Flashlights are one of the vital firefighters’ tools. In fact, they are usually forced to operate in the lowest vision conditions. Whether, we are considering personal, helmet or right-angle flashlights, selecting these devices usually obeys to the same standards, they all should be:

-Fire and explosion resistant: to support the firefighter even during extremely hazardous conditions

-Waterproof: to defeat any unexpected climate conditions or accidental disasters

-Long lifetime for LED’s of light bulbs: Some missions could take much more time than expected

-Shock resistant: to resist to extreme operating conditions

-Responsive controls: adjusting and setting the light should be easy with an excellent response time

-Adjustable light brightness and intensity: to guarantee the perfect vision

Extrication/Safety Work Gloves

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

It has never been easy or comfy for firefighters to operate with safety work gloves. This essential accessory limits their hand mobility, dexterity and their movements seem slower and less precise. However, safety remains a major priority so that they just need to optimize their choices and to take a few points into consideration:

-Fire resistant: to be able to operate safely

-Waterproof: wet gloves makes movements slower less fluent and less precise

-A wide range of fit sizes: you have to try different sizes and forms till you find your perfect fit

-Rubbing and friction resistant: to minimize damagement and injuries risk during operations

-Thermal comfort: to minimize freezing or sweating risks

-Flexible and stretchable: for enhanced dexterity and mobility

Safety Glasses

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Safety glasses are another essential firefighters’ tool, since it protects your eyes from ejected, hot or dangerous liquids as well as from fire rubbles and sparks. To better accomplish their rescue missions, limit the risks and optimize your vision within extreme conditions, this accessory should respect some standards:

-Resistant to high temperatures

-Resistant to dust

-Resistant to gas and chemical splashes

-Anti scratch


In addition to these points, some safety glasses could be equipped with ventilation which helps to resist fogging caused by gas, heat or sweat.

Rescue Knife

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

A rescue knife is one of the most decisive firefighters’ tools highly required in critical emergency cases. It could cut seat belts or break windows to save lives. To choose your perfect firefighter rescue knife, there are some key features to take into consideration:

-Resistant and durable: high-temperature resistance and manufactured with solid materials for the handle as well as for the blade

-Suitable size and weight: for a perfect gloved hands grip

-Easy locking and folding mechanism: for an easy safe use

-The blade design: suitable for firefighters use

-Multifunctional usage: glass breaker, plier, cutter ….


How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Firefighters usually try to carry a variety of handy tools to be able to enhance their dexterity and to act in a timely and efficient manner. Multitools offers numerous options so that you can rely on fewer tools with more features. Still, they need to find the perfect compromise between size, weight and features. The are also a few other points to be considered:

-Easily carryable and foldable

-Durable and Resistant to fire

-Protected sharp parts and blades

-Easy grip and simple manipulation even with gloved hands

Wire Cutters

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

To accomplish their rescue operations, firefighters usually need to reach inaccessible places in damaged buildings. To move easily and fastly they have to cut different kinds of wire. Effective wire cutters are vital tools for firefighters so that they should be carefully selected to support them during their challenging missions:

Resistant materials: for handles as well as for blades to guaranty effectiveness and resist to fire and extreme conditions

One hand use: usable and effective even with one hand

Gloved hand use: easy to grip and use with gloves

Guarded blades: to limit any injuries risk, blades should be protected and equipped with a practical locking mechanism.

Personal Escape/Bailout Rope and Descent Control Device

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

One of the expected scenarios a firefighter should be perfectly prepared for is to escape from high hazardous buildings. These operations require rigor, carefulness and effective personal escape tools. Bailout ropes and descent control devices should be:

Highly resistant: made out of durable, waterproof and fire resistant materials

Simply auto locked and deployed: able to be quickly operational for emergency situations

Effortlessly controlled: smooth descent to be able to successfully manage stressful situations

Easily carried: this escape equipment should be lightweight and comfortably fixed to the turnout.

Heavy-duty Webbing

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Heavy_duty webbing is another imperative for firefighters. To escape at the last minute alone or carrying injured rescued persons you need to rely on a trustful heavy-duty webbing.  The choice of this equipment obeys to numerous strict standards because they are used in very hazardous conditions and critical situations:

Chemical resistance: low damages risk in contact with solvents and chemicals

Highly solid and durable: to be perfectly safe during buildings scaling

Abrasion and cut resistance: to ensure injuries protection and safety during rescue operations

Melting resistance: to resist to fire and high temperatures

Excellent elongation break: having the exact amount of elasticity to prevent break risk.

Shove Knife

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

To be able to rescue any person trapped by fire or any other disaster, firefighters usually need easy, fast and non destructive methods to open doors. Shove knives are the perfect tool for this kind of operations, especially if we consider the following features:

Versatile: works for inward or toward doors

Easy use: to be able to operate smoothly and fastly

Protected blade: to limit injuries risks

Lightweight: to avoid overburdened firefighters

Easy folding and carrying: to operate efficiently

Hose Management Tool

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Hose management tools are one of the most decisive tools at firefighting operations. There is a wide range of models and techniques from the manual to the automatic systems, but the most important is that you opt for durable, high quality materials and that you perfectly master their use. We can also take into account a few other pertinent characteristics:

Easy  and fast deployment and folding: to operate in a timely manner

Flexible: Ideally with possible clockwise rotation

High quality and durable materials: chemicals resistant, abrasion resistant and fire resistant

Quick response time: no draining, dragging or stacking

High volume attack: to be more efficient on fire extinction

How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters


How to Choose and Use Portable Personal Hand Tools For Firefighters

Firefighting is a versatile multitasker job which needs a wide range of skills. One of the key firefighter tools is the screwdriver which allows him to have much more options to get access to any place he needs to be in to rescue lives and extinguish fire. To better support your firefighters’ crucial missions, they have to keep in mind these options before choosing their screwdriver:

-Durable and resistant to extreme conditions

-Easily usable with gloved hands

-Protected to avoid injuries

-Ideally foldable and multifunctional to be easily carriable

How To Choose And Use The Forcible Entry Tools Correctly?

In light of the alarmingly high number of break-ins that have recently taken place, doors and windows are gaining access to more sophisticated locking devices. The number of instruments that firefighters use in order to gain entrance by force should be increased. IFSTA defines forcible entry as the processes that are utilized to gain access to buildings or other restraint areas when the typical means of entry are closed or impeded. These processes may include breaking down doors or using tools to force entry. Everyone in the group has to be familiar with the different strategies.

An expert in the forced entrance is someone who has knowledge, talents, and experience all under their belt at the same time. It is vital to have a working knowledge of the many types of doors, hardware, and locks. A level of understanding is required in order to properly evaluate even the simplest of entrance points. Firefighters are able to undertake forced entry with a high level of proficiency because of their extensive knowledge of the many kinds of doors and locks, tool types, architectural features, and construction techniques.

In addition, the skill of forcing one’s way inside a building requires a great deal of practice before it can be perfected. Learning from both your achievements and your mistakes is the only way to advance your career as a firefighter. Today, we are going to discuss a variety of forced entry tools in order to help you understand more, as well as a full guide to selecting the appropriate forcible entry equipment and then using them in the appropriate manner.

Regular Forcible Entry Tools.

The tools that firemen employ may be grouped into a few broad categories, including those meant for striking, prying, cutting, as well as pulling, in addition to those suited for specific operations such as breaking locks or taking down whole walls.

Striking Tools.

An instrument for striking that has a flat head, such as an axe or sledgehammer (occasionally called a maul), can be employed to break a lock, smash a wedge, or impact another tool. Sledgehammers may have handles that are either short or long, can weigh anywhere from 2 to 20 pounds, and are designed to increase hitting force.


Prying Tools.

In order to acquire a mechanical advantage as well as leverage throughout entry attempts, prying tools such as the crow-bar, Halligan, the pry-bar, and perhaps even hydraulic spreaders may be employed. These tools may be used to extend a door, move an object, or expose a lock. The irons is a slang term for Halligan as well as the flat-headed axe that is often used in conjunction with the Halligan tool. This is the basic formula that fire crews use when attempting to enter a building by force.


Cutting Tools.

Tools like cutting torches, axes, trimmers & saws, and bolt cutters are only a few examples of the kinds of implements that may be used to pick or bypass locks. The K&A tool as well as the bam-bam tool, along with several other keys and picks designed to unlock certain security systems are all examples of instruments that are expressly used for forcible entry.


Pulling Tools.

The come-along is a device that, similar to the goldenrod fencing stretcher, utilizes chains & hooks to bring items closer together. When power tools are in short supply on a big stage, the come-along’s ability to ratchet gates, dashes, and seating rails may be quite helpful. It is possible to widen secured apertures or metal frameworks with the use of power saws, hydrodynamic wedges, pneumatic equipment, and battery-powered rams and spreaders.


How to Choose the Forcible Entry Tools?

Even while it is conceivable to make the case that forcible entry is one of the less well-known techniques used by rescue services, there is no denying that it is, without a doubt, one of the most important strategies.

In order to gain admittance by using force, you will need to do more than just break the doors or windows. For firefighters to be competent in putting out flames, they need to be able to undertake forcible entry operations in a way that is not only secure but also productive and effective.

When your company is looking to acquire new forcible entry equipment or expand its existing stock, there are four factors that should be taken into account before making any selections. These factors are as follows:

  • Forcible entry requirements.
  • Training requirements.
  • Room for storing equipment.
  • Staffing as well as maintenance.

Additionally, the demographics of those who enter forcibly vary substantially from department to department.

For instance, does your dept provide services to neighborhoods that are mostly comprised of bedroom houses and where the majority of the buildings that make up the area are of the residential sort that have wood-framed construction? If this is the scenario, your needs won’t be the same as a fire station in a heavily commercialized region, where most buildings are of conventional construction and feature inward-opening metal gates and windows secured by security bars.

How to Use the Forcible Entry Tools Correctly?

In the following, we will take a very careful look at the three most important aspects to keep in mind to make effective use of the tools used for forcible entry:

Recognize the Mechanics of Applying Force.

The bulk of the devices that are used in the process of forcefully entering a place operates in accordance with the principle of leverage. The force of a firefighter’s arm is an example of an input force, while the force of the work that has to be completed is an example of an output force. Both of these forces are components of a tool.

The utilization of a fulcrum, also known as the point where two opposing forces meet, allows for the creation of a mechanical advantage. This advantage causes an object to tilt to one side while it is in motion. It is vital for firemen to have a thorough grasp of how force is applied in order to leverage a Halligan tool and pry bar in a doorframe. This understanding is critical for effective tool use as well as safety.

How To Choose And Use The Forcible Entry Tools Correctly?

Carry Forcible Entry Tools Carefully.

Firefighters using forceful entrance equipment, such as a pick-head axe or Halligan, should be conscious of their immediate surroundings and take precautions to prevent slashing themselves on any sharp edges or points.

On the other hand, you should also hold the tip down while working with pike poles or pry bars, which are likewise long-pointed equipment. Focus on keeping a sledgehammer as well as other heavy equipment tight to the handle, and don’t swing it as you go to your destination.

How To Choose And Use The Forcible Entry Tools Correctly?

Protect Not Just Your Tools but Also Yourself.

When attempting to forcibly enter a building, the necessary tools must be in a useable condition and must be put to use in accordance with their intended function at all times. When using forceful entry tools, firemen are required to wear the full complement of personal protective equipment (PPE), and they are not permitted to handle the tools on their own.

The majority of the equipment that is used is bulky and difficult to manipulate because of its construction. Firefighters need to work together in order to move large support items and equipment, such as deployable lighting assemblies and various hydraulic tools. In addition, they need to work together in order to move instruments like power supplies.

Final Thoughts!

Fire departments need to take notice of the equipment they already have and consider how they may profit from investing in alternative solutions. Before acquiring new equipment, fire departments should consult with the firefighters who will be using it to determine which tools will be used the most often and which will be utilized the least. If a tool is used regularly, it is possible that it has reached the point where it should be retired to create a place for more recent tools.

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly

Fire axes are used by first responders for demolition, to clear trails during searches, and many other emergency operations. They can be valuable tools for splitting wood and felling trees. How do you choose the right fire axe for your needs?  

When choosing a fire axe, you must consider the handle length and type. You will need a fire axe that is the correct weight and comfortable for you to swing. It would help to consider the head type and how you intend to use your fire axe. 

Below we will look at the different types of fire axes and help you choose the correct one. We will also look at how to swing the axe in a safe and controlled manner. 

4 Criteria to Choose the Right Fire Axe

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly

· Length

You will need to find the correct length handle for your fire axe to be able to swing it correctly and accurately. It should feel comfortable to you without being too short or too long. When the axe head is on the ground and your arms are relaxed next to your body, the length of the handle should reach halfway up your middle finger. 

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly

· Weight

The weight of the axe is a big concern when picking out an axe. The most common weight of a fire axe is 3lbs to 8lbs(1.5-4kgs), but they can weigh as much as seven pounds. Heavier-weighted axes are better suited for demolition. The lighter axes are better for splitting logs and tree felling. 

· Axe Head Type

The next consideration is the head type. Fire axes can be single-headed or double-headed, meaning they have a blade on both sides. Some may come with a sledgehammer or spike opposite the blade. Double-headed axes can be sharpened differently giving you two tools in one. Carefully weigh how you will most use the fire axe and buy one that will best fit those needs. 

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly

· Material of the Axe

Fire axe handles can come in different materials. The hardwood handles are preferred by most professionals, but composite ones can be just as strong and only have a fraction of the weight. Both options are quite durable and will rely on what you prefer. If you haven’t purchased a fire axe before, stick with the wooden handle options until you become more familiar with the tool. 

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly

How to Use a Fire Axe


To use a fire axe you will need to have plenty of room to swing your axe. You should have at least an axe length of clearance around you to avoid the axe deflecting and possibly causing you serious harm.

An axe length consists of your arm fully extended with the axe following your arm out fully extended. This should include the front, the sides, and behind you when you are swinging the axe. 

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly

Grip and Swing

Having and maintaining a proper grip is essential when swinging an axe. If you are right-handed, the fire axe handle should be placed so your left hand is just above the knob or end of the axe. Your right hand should be further up the handle just below the head of the fire axe.

When you swing the fire axe, your right hand will slide down the handle, meeting your left hand as the fire axe travels forward.  

How to Choose the Right Fire Axe & Use it Correctly


Your main focus when swinging an axe should be accuracy. Harder swings that do not hit the same spot will be very inefficient. You have a higher risk of missing your target and injuring yourself the harder you swing. Lighter more accurate swings will be more beneficial in the long run allowing you to do more work quickly. You can increase your speed and power when you can swing accurately. 


The main criteria for choosing a fire axe will be the head type, handle type, weight, and overall length of the axe. Matching all of these together with the main intended use of the axe will give you the most comfortable fire axe for you to use. 

Clearing your area before you begin using the fire axe, and focusing on accuracy over speed and power. This will give you the most efficiency and keep you safe when you swing your fire axe. 

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