Hawk Works– Dealing with WALLS

WHERE’D THAT COME FROM? Did you ever return from a call and think, “Man, things really “clicked” on that one.” Where’s all that click-ness come from? Who knows, for sure? But, it’s undoubtedly bits of careful observation, in-depth investigation, a couple of “war stories,” daydreaming, and luck– plus a big dose of first-hand practical experience. Sorry, it probably won’t have anything at all to do with this content. But, maybe this’ll help keep you distracted until its time for something “good” to happen.

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This post is a continuation of an earlier effort to highlight some uses of the Hawk tool system. Some of the applications listed were planned in the original design, but others were discovered via a great deal of field experience, by the designer and contributed by many others. The end results are a little like baseball cards; we’ve tried to summarize several very specific uses of the Hawk/Raptor combination in a concise, standardized way, by listing: 1) the name of the tool head being addressed, 2) the specific feature (subpart) of the tool that is being highlighted, 3) what the tool is being used on (e.g., a part of a structure), 4) a photo of the tool posed as though in use, and 5) a brief explanation. The sketch at the right provides some “anatomical” terms to aid in understanding. In this post a few videos have been included to clarify key points, especially to describe uses involving a sequence of actions.

AGGRESSIVE PROPERTY CONSERVATION. But, before continuing, this seems like as good a time as any to mention a key consideration that drove the original Hawk Tool development process–  the concept of “aggressive property conservation.” That’s the idea that fire tools need to be designed and refined so as to enable a broad spectrum of tasks. At one extreme, they have to afford firefighters aggressive, no-holds-barred methods of quickly and decisively (aggressively) finding, confining and extinguishing of fire– even at the risk of significant property damage. But, on the other hand, their fire service tools must also allow crews to make a seamless transition to the most precise and conservative methods of terminating incidents that keep damage amazingly proportional to the original threat(s).

DEALING WITH WALLS. When we hear of “overhaul,” we almost always imagine it in terms of finding fire, especially by opening up walls, ceilings, and (maybe to a little lesser extent) floors. So, it seemed like some attention should be given to walls before going much farther. And, any discussion of overhauling of walls, presents an ideal opportunity to elaborate on that spectrum of fireground activities that bridges the gulf between aggressive threat control and reasoned property conservation.

AGGRESSIVE OVERHAUL. Sometimes (frequently!) the best way of protecting property is to control or eliminate the threat– put out the fire, ASAP. The Hawk tool head’s longitudinal and transverse blades and its wedge tip are devoted to opening thing’s up, exposing the fire, without a lot of messing around. They’re hefty, unbreakable, and never need attention– always ready for immediate piercing, striking, chopping, and breaking.  The wedge tip is the tool’s primary piercing component. It can be driven effortlessly through all the normal wall surfacing materials or used to efficiently split or break other materials that stop most hooks.  Hawk’s rear-facing adze can also be an aggressive forcible entry and demolition tool.

An essential prerequisite of an “aggressive” fire operation is that it is sustainable– more of a marathon than a sprint. So, in tool use, as in other respects, operations and tactics need to be as refined, efficient, and free of redundancy as possible. The following illustrate examples or operationally efficient uses of the Hawk Tool.

One subtle tool characteristic that can have a significant impact on the time required required to complete a task is its “sequential operational logic.” For example, rather than nibbling at the surface with a series of pulls, in the sequence shown above, the desired opening is created using a series of “perforations” and relatively shallow “incisions” to weaken the perimeter of the area. The final opening is made by pulling and breaking the resulting flap. This often speeds the process and minimizes energy expenditure. The method is equally applicable to wall and ceiling openings, of a variety of sizes, large and small.

Another example is using tools in a logical, sequential way that minimizes significant changes of tools or re-orientations of a single tool. This idea is well illustrated in the bathroom video below. In sequence, the firefighter a) uses the Wedge Tip to break up some glazed ceramic tile, b) uses a combination of the Adze and the Wedge Tip to peel off some of the remaining tile, c) uses the Wedge Tip to break through the plaster backing, d) uses the Transverse Blade to enlarge the opening and e) uses the Adze to drag out big sections of insulation. All of these tasks are completed, in sequence, with virtually no interuption in the action– all of these tool functions interact logically.

AGGRESSIVE PROPERTY CONSERVATION. But, “aggressive” fire operations aren’t limited to the urgent, highly destructive, aspects of fire protection. There comes a point in every operation where concern for the immediate, dramatic, effects of a primary threat starts to be replaced by the more subtle, but sometimes equally important, focus on the effects of secondary threats, such as water damage, structural instability, or even excessive and unnecessary damage caused by on-going operations. For example, in the illustration below, knowing that the overhaul tool will fit fully into the 3-1/2″ depth of the stud space may favorably influence its use, allowing firefighters to easily pull off the front surface, on one side of a partition, avoiding the unnecessary effort and damage of having to pull both surfaces at once.

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Crews have to avoid being timid or neurotic about property damage at times when such hesitancy is likely to result in even more fire damage. However, in later-stage, “mop-up” situations where the priorities give greater emphasis to controlling property damage, the appropriate use of smaller inspection holes (as illustrated above) is often a better alternative than more destructive, energy wasting and costly wholesale removal of wall surfaces.

KNOW YOUR “TOOLS.” In conclusion, take some time to consider situations you’re likely to encounter that have something to do with walls. Think o specific tasks you may have to perform. Then, take a look at your tools. What can they do to contribute to safe, timely, and efficient completion of those tasks?


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