By FD Hacks
Garage doors play a significant role in firefighting operations. They may function as a primary entry/egress point for interior operations. They could serve as our secondary building access. Given the nature of their use, the garage itself is often the location of the fire or hazard we’re responding to. In any case, however, the garage door can also become a major hazard.
Heat from fire can damage and melt the springs, causing the door to roll down without warning. Garage doors can be extremely heavy and this release can cause life threatening injuries or trap firefighters engaged in fire suppression operations. The video above is a scary example of this happening to firefighters in North Carolina. In hindsight (of course), we can see that this was a harrowing, yet avoidable circumstance.
Be sure to secure the garage door if you need it open, even if the springs are completely intact. Here are a few ways to secure the door:
1) Pike Pole or Hook
Consider the size you’ll need to secure the garage door. Place the pike pole or hook against the door track. Try to secure it by jamming it in place. The concern when using a pike pole or hook is that it can be knocked loose. If you have the personnel, assign someone to protect the pole and maintain garage door access.
2) Vice Grips/Spring Clamp
Place two vice grips (or the appropriate spring clamps) just under the garage door on the the door track. This will block the door from coming down its rails.
3) Crimp the track
Crimp the garage door track by crushing or twisting it just below the door opening, on each side of the door. You can use clamps or pliers to make the pinch. In the video below, Chief Joe Alvarez also shows how you can use a set of irons to do this. Note that this will likely render the door open for the rest of your operation.
In this video from Fire Engineering, Chief Joe Alvarez reviews the tips above, as well as a few extras, in a training setting.
Remember to stay calm and view the whole picture in front of you. Avoid tunnel vision. Assign someone to maintain garage door access, if possible. And be sure to consider the hazard at hand, there is no need to do unnecessary damage to someone’s property.
Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. You must always consider your own personal safety, as well as department policies and procedures. Always wear full PPE.