On the Streets With Philly Squad 72

THE “SQUAD 72” HOOK.  All the special ops units in Philadelphia– Squads and Rescue– have a small variety of Hawk Versa-Tool combinations (Hawk head with Raptor end)– a 36″ or 42″ (generally for the officer), 60,” and 72.” Over the summer this shot appeared among Andrew Brassard’s “forcethedoor” Instagram collection.  It’s a great photo taken by Nozzle Nut Photography of Philly Squad 72’s Firefighter Al Mayor with one of the 72 inchers. It’s been suggested that we refer to the six-footer as the “Squad 72 Hook.” Seems reasonable.

MW FF Al Mayor 72'2 D Platoon

Squad 72 was the first Philly unit to start using the Hawk Tool. And, with their recent acquisition of a Hawk/Hallux “Roofman” combination, they definitely have one of largest Hawk inventories in the Northeast. Not that they were lacking hardware, to begin with. Squad 72A, the unit’s follow-up rig is packed full of special equipment, including the locally fashioned tool used for spreading the tracks of roll-up security gates to gain entry, as shown at right, above.

It looks like 2018 might have been a pretty good year for 72s. They moved back into their original quarters with Medic 24 at 12th and Loudon, after some much-needed remodeling.  During the renovation, they’d been wedged in with Engine 63 (13th & Oak Lane). And, their move back to Loudon Street corresponded pretty closely with the delivery of their much anticipated new rig, a 2018 Spartan Metro Star. Nice piece.

PHILADELPHIA: A FIRE PHOTO-RICH CITY. If you’re looking for a city covered by rich, detailed, engaging fire photography, Philadelphia is the place. The two photographers represented here are some of the best. For lots of Philly video and action photos, check out Aaron Mott Photography and Videography, who captured Squad 72s rig, above. Among other places, you’ll find him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AaronMottEmergencyResponseVideos

Nozzle Nut Photography’s Facebook page carries albums of fires from all over the Pennsylvania and Maryland area. Particularly unique are periodic photo collections of old neglected, always unique, rigs in sections called “Apparatus Found ‘Along the Way’. ”


BCFD Rescue 1 Celebrating the New Year

PARTY ANIMALS. New year’s day, 2019, had just begun when Rescue 1 commemorated the occasion with a first alarm assignment to Box 8-81: fire on the first floor of a string of row houses.  Rescueman Jerry Smith took his 5′ “Hawk Roofman” / “Monster” Halligan bar combo to the job, as shown in the left photo, below.  He’s been using this set for several months, but is still making periodic refinements to get it zeroed in.

TWEAKING THE HAWK FOR EVERYDAY CARRY. The Hawk was designed with nesting with a Halligan in mind: the forks of most popular Halligans can be notched firmly onto the adze of the Hawk head– or onto the pike of the Raptor end, if present. If the former method is used, most of the weight of the package is at the Hawk-head-forward end, which most people prefer (this is good since it results in most of the length of the set behind the firefighter, rather than projecting out in front.

But, as Jerry points out, it also leaves the Halligan in a forks-forward orientation, which many (including Jerry) would consider to be an “upside down” orientation.  He wants to be able to separate the two tools without having to reverse the direction of the Halligan in order to lead with the adze/pike end.  So, rather than sliding the fork of the Hallie onto the adze of the Hawk, he’s welded a length of chain to the Hawk’s chrome moly handle as an alternative seat for the forks, a method used by some firefighters (including on FDNY) to improve the carry of their Halligans with a New York Roof hook. It should be noted that in doing this, great skill and care is required to avoid creating a weak spot in the tubular handle at the point of attachment– especially with the Hawk’s super stiff chrome moly tubing.

But, Jerry’s done it right– not just technically, but operationally, as well. His Halligan is supported not only by the fork notched onto the welded ring, but also (as you can see in the photo), the adze/pike end is cradled in and above the notch in the front of the Hawk head. The two are firmly joined when the set is held even slightly upright, but they slide easily apart when the top end of the set is lowered. And, they reconnect easily (again, without having to reverse the Hallie), even in zero visibility.

Baltimore’s busy Rescue 1’s crew has done a lot of fine-tuning of the Hawk evolutions– they’ve been hunting fire with Hawks for years. They were the first rig to carry the tool in Baltimore and have a pretty varied inventory of them to choose from. They’re  as strong a group of veteran “falconers” as you’ll find anywhere. Good troops– and busy.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON “JAWS.” As is often the case, sincere thanks are due to “Jaws” Jaworski for keepin’ an eye on Balto and his photo-coverage of this job, in particular. If you like active metro fire photos (duh.), keep an eye on his stuff. “Stanley Jaworski’s photos” on Facebook is a good place to start; the color shots above are from his Box 8-81 post on flickr.

Smithit (Smith-Hit) Follow-Up

THE SMITHIT. Back in one of the very first posts on this site, in a write-up entitled “Truck 15’s House– Baltimore, MD” (under Stations and Places of Note), it was mentioned in passing that when Baltimore City Firefighter Jerry Smith (a very good friend, now with Rescue 1) was riding as acting officer on T15, he would throw a 3# rock hammer into his coat pocket! Why? Well, Balto City truck officers often find themselves responsible for doing forcible entry single-handedly and Jerry thought that if he was going to be doing it solo, he’d rather give up a little striking weight for more precision. Wallah(!): the rock hammer! OK, maybe being a little skeptical, several of us gave it a try– on entry props, car fires (under-hood access), residential calls, etc., and for these and for 90% (or more) of the stuff we do, the results were very impressive:

  • Tight quarters work is significantly enhanced.
  • Low to zero visibility work is enhanced (your kinesthetic abilities let you strike on-target with amazing precision and force).**
  • Reduced weight and bulk = increased agility and mobility.

NOTE** Most of the people we polled found this method preferable to being hit in the ribs by their “buddy,” flailing away in the dark with a 6-8# axe.

There is no question in my mind, but what using a 3-4 pound short-handled “hammer” for striking was a superior way for me (or any other officer?) to perform forcible entry. Several friends use the technique religiously (so to speak). The only question I have had was whether there might be a better way of transporting the striking tool?

That’s where the blog post rather casually tossed in a coupe of photos of methods we use to “marry” a short striking tool to a Halligan. Unfortunately, as noted by one reader– Mitchell Sowers– there wasn’t really enough detail included to be useful. So, the following is an effort to clarify the idea. You may also want to look at photos in the original post.  To implement the project shown, you’ll need some variation of the following parts:

  • a) A 3# – 4# striking tool of your choice.
  • b) The Halligan(s) with the thickest fork (at the crotch or bottom of the fork) that you plan to use with this method.
  • c) Two fender washers (wide diameter with a much smaller hole) for a 1/4″ bolt.
  • d) One nut, wing-nut, fiber lock-nut (my preference), or internally threaded handle (shown below) to fit the 1/4″ bolt you plan to use.
  • e) a light-weight coil spring, approximately 1″ long x 1/2″ diameter– not requiring too much pressure, since its strength doesn’t actually come into play.
  • A 1/4″ bolt long enough to thread through all of the above– with the nut in place– without compressing the spring much, if at all.
The basic approach using a rock hammer (in this case, a 3 pound Estwing, which I think is the coolest looking tool on the planet): Here (starting on the opposite side, out of sight), a) the bolt runs through one washer, b) then through the crotch of the Halligan fork, c) then through the hammer, d) then (visible, again) through the spring (“squished” between the hammer and the next washer), then e) through the washer itself (the one shown is standard, not a fender washer), then f) the wing nut is adjusted to the correct tension for gripping the Halligan fork between the far-side washer and the hammer.
The opposite side of the combination shown above.  Once you’ve adjusted the spring tension where you want it, the Halligan can be fairly easily released by tapping the tip of the forks on the ground or reinserted by pushing on the wing-nut end, sliding the Halligan under the fender washer and tapping the horn end of the Halligan on the ground. Little additional adjustment should be needed. Since all my Halligans are the same (we recommend MalvenWorks, right?), I eventually switched to a fiber lock nut instead of a wing-nut; less bulky, stays in adjustment, and less sharp to push on when spreading the washer for returning the Halligan.
A sketched schematic of the parts and assembly outlined above. Several of us prefer a 3-1/2# flat head axe on a short handle over the hammer– it provides an additional wedge and works nicely for striking the squared shoulders provided on some Halligans when working in really tight quarters.

The following photos show of the many variations explored in developing this Halligan/Maul team of entry tools. Users who like Jerry’s original idea will undoubtedly find additional refinements to improve their compatibility.

RJ Doin FE w: SmithItCAPITAL FIRE TRAINING. If you find yourself fightin’ fire and hungry for training in the Northeastern U.S., be sure to take a look at Capital Fire Training’s web sight and schedule of class deliveries. The CFT Instructors have earned a very strong reputation for rigorous training with great attention to detail, especially in the areas of integrated engine/truck operation, up-to-date RIT and personal survival strategies, and fire officer development. Robert James (“RJ”) has been a particularly tireless supporter of our company’s efforts to get on its feet– hope you’ll help us return the favor.  Contact: capitolfiretraining.com




Adam Neff, Battalion Chief, Nixa Fire Protection District, Nixa, MO

Neff CombHE’S EVERYWHERE. If you periodically survey fire service content on Facebook, you’ve probably seen some of Adam Neff’s “likes” and comments on posts by your favorite posters and bloggers. His interests are broad and deep. But, his active presence ranges well beyond the social media.  When it comes to fire service instruction, joining high profile classes, and promoting fire service causes, he seems to have his hands in just about everything, without leaving out his family– that’s some trick!

NIXA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT. Adam has grown up in the Nixa Fire Protection District (NFPD), located in Nixa, Missouri, directly south of Springfield and part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area.  The primarily rural service was organized as a fire district in 1986 with 15 volunteers. It now covers 45 square miles and a population of over 21,000 from 5 fire stations. Like many other suburban departments, NFPD has undergone remarkably rapid growth in the past 50 years. It has strong, goal-directed leadership.  Looking at photos of the department’s facilities and resources, and comparing them with the multi-station career-staffed operation of today, it is clear that the department has applied a great deal of planning, creativity, and dedication to the process.

SERVICE & GROWTH. Adam first came to our attention when he placed the first order for a Malven Hawk Tool after transfer of its production to MalvenWorks. Looking at his background, its clear that his career has closely paralleled the district’s growth, moving rapidly through the ranks to his current position of Battalion Chief. He has been a more-or-less continuous student of fire protection and public service. He is regularly enrolled in local, regional and national conferences, workshops and courses. He completed and was awarded the Commission on Professional Credentialing’s Chief Fire Officer certification. He is equally involved as a fire service instruction, himself, including his work as a member of the well-established Ozark Mountain F.O.O.L.S. group.

NFPD maintains a very active community outreach and fire prevention education program. Their definition of “community” obviously reaches far beyond its city limits and district boundaries. A good example is its work on behalf of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Adam had just joined the Nixa department when America experienced the 9/11 tragedy. Nevertheless, over a decade later, in 2014, he served as a principal coordinator for the Springfield area’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.  This event was facilitated by the Ozark Mountain F.O.O.L.S., LOCAL 152 of the International Association of Firefighters, and the Nixa Fire Protection District. It attracted 230 climbers and raised $8,000 for the foundation. 

ADAM.  Seem’s like he’s everywhere.

Johnston, IA– Two Safe After Overnight Residential Fire

TWO SAFE AFTER NIGHTTIME RESIDENTIAL FIRE. Along with mutual aid companies, firefighters from the Johnston Grimes Metropolitan Fire Department in suburban Des Moines, Iowa stopped a heavily-involved early-morning garage fire at 6116 Northwest 61st Avenue, in Johnston. Crews found flames showing well above the roof when they arrived shortly after 4:45 a.m., in April of 2018. The two occupants of the house at the time of the fire managed to escape without injury.

There was significant structural involvement in the attached garage. A well coordinated, focused attack held damage to a minimum in the remainder of the dwelling– primarily smoke and moisture penetration.  Nevertheless, an unusually heavy fuel-loading of stored materials in and above the garage, and the labor-intensive chore of breaking up those irregular bundles of combustibles from below kept crews engaged well into the morning.

A MODEL OF INNOVATIVE, SYSTEMATIC CONSOLIDATION. Johnston Grimes Metro stands as an outstanding model of far-sighted planning for future fire and emergency services in the face of rapid urban growth. They are an unusually effective integration of the two previously separate suburban fire departments of Johnston and Grimes, Iowa. Formally unified by the two cities in 2016, the resulting agency covers 30 square miles in two counties, from three stations, with a staff of over 30 full-time and 30 part-time officers and emergency responders. Their organizational vision statement calls for the timely expansion of existing services to meet the needs of their evolving communities– services based on industry best practices, research-based training and operations, and a data-driven decision-making process.

Adam Tendall, Future Assistant Chief, Nevada Community Fire Department, Nevada, IA

A CLOSER LOOK. Our own Nevada (Iowa) Community Fire Department is heavily saturated with Hawk tools. So, many, if not most, of its members are actually pretty experienced Hawk tool users. But, a note from one of our members made me aware that the department has some Hawk tool enthusiast that may be flying below our radar. One example is Adam Tendall, who’s currently a foot or two below the radar.  He’s the son of a multi-generational fire family and Adam could be headed in that direction, as well. We’ll let his dad, Brad’s nomination letter speak for itself:

Brad Tendall's Adam Action Shots
Love it when the troops choose the Hawk to equip their “action shots.” Adam’s ready for anything. In the lower right shot he’s got a good grip on one of my very favorite tools– the Ardis Tool II. I don’t go anywhere without an Ardis Tool.  Seriously, there is rarely a call that this super pocketable, versatile overhaul tool doesn’t come into play in some way or another (see video on YouTube or contact: Ardis Tool Company LLC in Newtown, CT – (203) 426-3315).  Oh, yea, and in the left shot, the future A/C rounds out his kit with a lap-full of Hawk tool.  A true veteran falconer.

ONE OF THOSE FIRE FAMILIES. Adam comes by his tool interests pretty naturally. Maybe genetically? As is obvious in the photos below, the entire family is hard-bitten fire types. Adam’s grandfather, Roger, spent several years as an Assistant Fire Chief in Nevada. His uncle, Jamie (top left in the top left photo) is an experienced fire apparatus driver-operator. His dad, Brad, is a fire captain  As they grew up, Chief Tendall’s family spent a LOT of time at the fire station. As kid’s, Jamie and Brad always knew where the newest tools were mounted and were ready to jump on a rig and go.  Similarly, today, as pictured below, when Adam’s dad and his mom, Jessica (a very active EMT), walk into the fire station, Adam and his brother Ty are already “geared up!!” In virtually every fire station in America, this long-standing tradition continues– the tools and rigs may differ from place-to-place, but the next generation is ready for action.

Here they come.


Frederick, MD– DFRS Troops Get After a Mid-Day Commercial Fire

QUICK RESPONSE BRINGS QUICK CONTROL.  Hawk tools landed with several Frederick, Maryland, fire companies at a quickly-evolving blaze in a large tire store complex, at 901 N. East Street. With reports of dark smoke issuing from the store’s service bays, first arriving units laid in and set up and rapidly implemented offensive operations.  Citizen’s Truck Company Truck 42 quickly established roof and ground support operations.  Engine crews advanced lines inside and, despite heavy smoke conditions in the offices and public spaces, quickly found and controlled the fire in a restroom.  The cause was determined to be a malfunction in the bathrooms fluorescent lighting.

Early action in the Mr. Tire fire, with supply lines on the ground and Citizens Truck 42’s elevated ops well underway. [Photo: Sam Yu, The Frederick News-Post]
A SAMPLING OF HAWK TOOL GENERATIONS. Although the fire was quickly controlled, there was already significant lateral spread, requiring extended and tedious overhaul, both inside and out.  Frederick fire companies are pretty well equipped. As captured by the ever-present, ever-alert fire photographer Trevor James, the hand tools were out in force at Mr. Tire.  And, since the Malven Hawk tool was under active development while its designer was spending 6 months living in Truck 4’s house, whenever they’re on the scene, you’re likely to see any and every version of the tool on hand and at work.

Hawk Tools & Mr. Tire
Operations winding down at Frederick’s Mr. Tire fire, March 14, 2017.  In this shot, the photographer captured both a 6th generation, current production tool (leaning against the step ladder) and a 2nd generation prototype (being carried down the ladder). [Photo: Trevor James, TrevorJamesStudio.Com]
That was the case here.  In Trevor’s photo, the current (6th generation) version of the Hawk tool is the blue tool seen roosting on the stepladder.  The newest version of the Hawk is pretty common in Frederick area fire stations so this one could have been anyone’s.  However, it’s blue-all-over paint color leaves little doubt that it was off of Squad 3’s rig.  Far less common, anywhere, is the hook coming down the ladder with the roofies.  It’s a 2nd generation Hawk tool prototype– probably part of Citizens’ Truck 42’s collection.  Early in the Hawk Tool’s development, a short run of virtually every revision was produced for field evaluation.  These were intended to be purely research and development models.  However, at the time, there wasn’t much variety in the fire tool marketplace and Martin Vitali, then owner/president of now-defunct Iowa-American Firefighting Equipment (first manufacturers of the tool) liked to capitalize on every subtle refinement, as though it was a new product.  So, virtually every experimental change in the product found its way–via a flyer, catalog, or word-of-mouth into the hands of customers for day-to-day use.

In the very near future, this blog will introduce the first installment on the history of the Malven Hawk tool.  It will discuss influences on the original development of the tool and separate discussion of each of its six generations of evolution.  Later installments will also look at specialized variations along the way.  Keep your eyes open, collectors– as noted above, many of these early prototypes found their way into the field and are still in use.  If you find one, take an extra photo for us– send that, along with any background you might have, and we’ll post it here and send you a MalvenWorks shirt of your choice for your trouble.

Prying– Pulling Tight-Fitting Hardware & Trim with the “Adze” (Hawk Head)

THE ADZE of the Hawk’s head is its primary pulling element. But, it also contributes to the Hawk’s prying versatility.  It easily pries apart routine wood trim and assemblies of all types. But, its thin, sharp rear-facing surface fits into the more awkward kinds of tight spaces presented by architectural fittings, such as metal grilles, cover panels, mounting brackets, etc. It is also useful for dealing with floor hardware such as metal thresholds, edging, carpet tack strips, etc.  Strike the adze’s flat back surface with an axe to drive its chisel edge behind exceptionally tight-fitting components,

Check the following for a concise printable summary:

Hawk Prying– Tight Hardware & Trim

Dean Tope, former Assistant Chief, Nevada Community Fire Department, Nevada, IA

“VETERAN ‘FALCONERS’?” “Falconry” is the ‘hunting of wild quarry, in its natural state, by means of a specially conditioned bird of prey’– generally a hawk, falcon or eagle. Since fire in a structure is pretty “wild quarry in its natural state,” we couldn’t resist the temptation to extend the falconer label to those who are hunting fire with a Hawk [tool], as well.

DEAN TOPE is certainly one of the longest-term MW Dean at Pump Panelusers of the Hawk Tool on the Nevada (IA) Community Fire Department (NCFD), where it was developed. Dean has been a volunteer with the department for over twenty years, including service, until recently, as the Assistant Chief responsible for EMS delivery.

He became a member of NCFD at a time when applicants frequently joined in clusters. These young, enthusiastic, firefighters tended to be exceptionally active in emergency responses and generally took all the training they could find.  They advanced quickly.  They regularly helped with preparations for local training. Dean set the pace for this pattern and was soon helping teach some of the field courses he had taken, and became one of the most active instructors in his Nevada department.

Dean was also one of the first members of the department to acquire and regularly carry his own personal fire tool, in his case one of the early Hawk tools like those carried on departmental apparatus (they were originally manufactured by Iowa American Fire Equipment, located in nearby Osceola, Iowa).

Dean Tope (center) with his ever-present 36″ Hawk/Raptor combination on a fiberglass handle.  Fellow Lieutenants were Brett Hambly (left) and Chris Bardsley (right).

FIREGROUND SUPPORT OPERATIONS. Fireground Support Operations (FSO) is a regionally and nationally delivered course focused on “truck company operations for fire departments without a ladder truck.” Background on the course is summarized in the “LOVERS PLUS” blog on the Hook and Ladder University website: hookandladderuniversity.com. As some of the original instructors of that course, moved on to other ventures, members of the Nevada department gradually took over the majority its course deliveries.  Dean quickly specialized in vertical ventilation and made significant refinements in that section of the course.

A significant objective of the course is to introduce students to new truckwork-related tools and equipment; it offers them the opportunity for hands-on experience working with virtually every hand tool and small power tool on the market.  The last segment of the course is generally a real-time emergency scenario involving the entire class in simulated truck company assignments– the above photo of students laddering shows the roof operations segment of one of Dean’s roof ops classes.

PUBLIC FIRE EDUCATION. Much of Dean’s time as an Assistant Chief was spent directing the EMS arm of the department.  Keeping departmental and individual EMS training, protocols, and other documents records up-to-date is a never-ending job.  It requires a person with administrative skills, dedication, and responsibility– a chore that is seldom fully appreciated.  Dean did a good job with EMS but his original, day-to-day passion has long been fire prevention and safety education.  He has led his department’s school fire safety program, tirelessly, for over twenty years.  In that regard, he continues a tradition of department excellence in public fire education established by Gerald Mills, Nevada’s first career fire chief.  And, like Mills, Dean earned a Governor’s Award from Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (left photo, below– later U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) for the consistent excellence of his programming.

DIVERSIFIED E.M.S.  Recently Dean stepped out of the Assistant Chief role and transitioned into a new, more diversified involvement in EMS– employment in the field.  He has become an unusually active EMS Instructor/Educator, joined a hospital-based ambulance service, is pursuing advanced professional EMS certification, and (in his “spare time”) works EMS with Mary Greeley Medical Center at Iowa State University sporting events.

Dean w: MGMC Crew
Dean and his wife, Tracy, along with other members of the Mary Greeley Medical Center crew, prepare for a game at Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium

“VACATIONING” IN THE BACK SEAT.  While hospital-based EMS now takes a big bite out of Dean’s emergency service schedule, he still manages to squeeze in a little fun every once in a while– it’s always a pleasure to see him riding backward in a BRT, with a Hawk tool.

KNOW A VETERAN FALCONER? This series of posts recognizes firefighters who: 1) have had a good deal of firefighting and/or rescue experience, and 2) have lots of experience with, and at least a slight partiality to, the Malven Hawk tool.  If you know a person who fits our description of a veteran falconer, please email us photos and background information.  We’ll spotlight them in a future blog.  Contact Fred Malven:  malven@malvenworks.com.


Des Moines (IA)– Quick Stop, but Tedious Clean-Up, at DSM Apartment Job

REALLY LATE BREAKING NEWS.  This posting is REALLY late.  Well over a year ago, Des Moines Fire Captain Randy Jones called our attention to a KCCI-TV video (see except in bottom photo) that included a segment showing a Hawk-equipped firefighter working his way into an apartment fire on Fleur Drive in Des Moines.  The troops had been called out around 12:30 in the morning for smoke in the hallway of a 3-story, occupied building. On arrival, evacuation was in progress and smoke was pushing from the roof.


The fire (started by electrical arching) spread undetected in the attic for some time before it was detected, by which time it also involved parts of four apartments.  Tight quarters and extension into numerous void spaces kept overhaul crews engaged for several hours.

Des Moines Apt. Fire (Hawk Tool)
The Raptor end of Hawk Tool marks the progress of a DSM firefighter back into a smoldering, early morning apartment fire and an extended round of mop-up work.

Des Moines Fire Department was an early user of the original Hawk Tool.  Malven designed it in the ’80s for manufacture by Iowa American Fire Equipment, located in nearby Osceola, Iowa.  Even though Iowa-American has been out of business for well over a decade, it’s not unusual to see older Hawks popping up at working jobs from time-to-time. And, as shown above, current versions are also starting to appear.