SIGNATURE TOOLS. Obviously, when you’re thinking and talking about fires and firefighting, you’re likely to cover a wide swath of topics before you trickle down to hand tools. That’s fair. To paraphrase a common (but unfortunate) declaration, “fire hand tools don’t put out fires– people do.” But, if the discussion does get around to tools, it’s interesting to think about how some particular tools have come to be preferred by certain fire stations or departments. I’ve always been particularly fascinated by that narrow range of tools have come to be emblematic of some high visibility fire department– and vise versa. It’s hard to think about the LAFD, for example, without imagining their roof operations littered with signature “Rubbish” hooks and Collins Seagrave-inspired Fire Axe Inc. pick head axes– in fairness, I think I’d also have to include a couple of Stihl chainsaws to that image.
For years, Chicago has been well-known for teaming up its unique hooks and unusually deep-bladed pick-head axes (top left photo, above, and a more typical axe in the center photo by popular photographer Tim Olk). And, it’s hard to see a Boston “Rake” (bottom photo, above) without immediately picturing a haystack of ground ladders and a generous array of aerials. You wouldn’t be alone if you did; their quirky hook has developed a strong, enthusiastic following throughout the U.S. (right photo, above). Still, few tools are more popular or more strongly associated with their home department than the “New York Roof Hook,” not to mention the “NY Pike,” and, of course, the hallowed Halligan bar, itself.
WE HAVE NEVADA. On the other hand, there are literally thousands of fire service tools that are sprinkled throughout the fire service, but without any place, in particular, to call “home.” Some designs may still be waiting for their first sale. Bummer. As illustrated by a set of older generation of tools (in the photo below), MalvenWorks can at least lay claim to Nevada as a longtime, heavy user and patron of our tools.
DID I MENTION THAT’S NEVADA, IOWA. Perhaps I should have noted that; the above photos are from MalvenWorks’ local volunteer fire department, in Nevada, Iowa? Yeh, I know. But, we’re continuing to set our sights high.
SO, WE’RE HAPPY FOR EVEN AN OCCASIONAL “NICK” OF BALTO. Much as we’d like to be the “signature tool” of a widely recognized fire department, we’re committed to earning that distinction in the long haul. For now, we’re happy to get an occasional glance from one of the metros. So, its very satisfying when we get photos such as the ones immediately above– a salty, heavily used MalvenWorks Raptor/Hallux hook on busy Baltimore City Truck 16, especially when its so conspicuously attached to their first-off ground ladder. That hardly establishes our hooks as a symbol of the Baltimore Fire Department. But, for now, even a “nick” of Balto is sufficient.