We’ve Got Nevada

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.

MW LAFD Claw San Pedro Apt. Fire w Rescue 02:23:20-2

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.

Wichita (KS)– Shift Change

“ARMED” AND READY. Long-time supporter Isaac Frazier sent along a couple of shots taken at a recent Wichita job, a 2nd alarm, strongly wind-driven fire in a dwelling. The city’s two rescue squads were well represented (and well-armed!), as can be seen in these photos, taken at what almost looks like “shift-change.” The crew stayed busy, opening up both the roof and the interior at different points during the operation.

A team comprised of Rescue 1 and Rescue 2 squadmen, rotating out after a round of interior overhaul work. Obviously, nobody arrived or departed empty-handed.

GOING ARMED. Apparently, the fire department itself has also been busy. Not the least of their efforts has been nailing-down a pair of the nicest rescue rigs of the year. First Rescue 2, then, more recently, Rescue 1 took delivery of well-matched Pierce Velocity heavy-duty walk-ins. Although seemingly identical externally, under the skin, each has been innovatively tailored to meet its unique operational priorities– hazardous materials in R-2’s case and technical rescue for R-1. But, nothing’s been overlooked in preparing both units to handle their “bread-and-butter” assignments– structure fires.

In the photo at right, below, is what Isaac Frazier describes as the “Stairway to Heaven.” It’s a pretty persuasive label; below the squad bench are 28′ extension and 16′ roof ladders. On top are a narrow Duo-Safety “Fresno” attic extension ladder and (behind the narrow lip) a tray for frequently used tools and equipment. The rear riding positions are further forward. (photos of the “heavenly” rigs are by Tyler Silvest).

Admittedly, riding into battle in style is nothing new. The Vikings were doing it in the late 8th century. But, it’s doubtful that the Vikings arrived trained and equipped to do as much damage.

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?


A “Ringer” for the Iowa-American “Stinger”

LIEUTENANT MICHAEL SKIDMORE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY (MD). A couple of months ago, a friend sent this shot of a day-to-day “worker” tool used by Lieutenant Michael K. Skidmore, Junior of the Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue Services. At the time of the photo, Lt. Skidmore was a fairly recent promotion and was rotating among several different stations. That definitely keeps a new officer hopping. Nevertheless, his tool looks as bright and ready-to-go as the day it was assembled.

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Lt. Michael Skidmore’s “Stinger” tool. Photo courtesy of Robert “RJ” James.

HAWK TOOLS– OLD AND NEW. But, it’s actually been around awhile. For people who are only familiar with the latest MalvenWorks version of this hook, it probably looks like just another well-personalized example of the Hawk/Raptor combination. But, those who know a little more about its history will recognize right away that this is an earlier example of the tool when it was produced by forerunner Iowa-American Firefighting Equipment (IA-AM). The tip-off is the handle; the yellow solid fiberglass handle stock, orange silicone grip (under a more recent spiral wrap), and the long stainless steel sleeve where the fiberglass connects to the Hawk head, are telltale signs of early IA-AM production. Currently, the most commonly specified handle material is tubular steel (1″ O.D. chrome-molybdenum), normally dark gray in color.

There are also several, more subtle differences between the original Hawk Tool (the Iowa-American “Phase V,” as its been called) and the current MalvenWorks model. Most notably, the actual shape of the Hawk head has undergone some refinement. On the new version: a) the width of the tip and “wedge” is a little larger, b) the curved lower edge, the “longitudinal blade” has a more pronounced curve or “belly,” and c) the steel used is investment cast 17-4 stainless, versus the more malleable, sand-cast 316 stainless used in the originals (see photo comparison, below).

Side-by-side comparison of two 36″ Hawks. The top version is the original “Stinger” tool– both end pieces were silicone-cast stainless, joined by a solid fiberglass handle. The lower tool is the current MalvenWorks version with a tubular chrome-molybdenum handle.

THE “STINGER” TOOL. Lt. Skidmore’s version of the Hawk also has the distinction of being the first model to introduce the “Raptor” tool end (the end that strongly resembles the shape of the Boston Rake tool).  Surprisingly, though, despite their tendency to give seemingly every single prototype step in the development a new tool its own unique name and entry in the catalog, Iowa-American never gave this one any name, at all. Instead, it was simply described, anonymously, as part of the tool they called the “Stinger.”

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The new unnamed tool end introduced as part of IA-AM’s “Stinger” tool in the late ’80s. The tool didn’t get its own name, “Raptor,” until its reintroduction by Aazel, MalvenWorks’ predecessor, in 2011.

The new part was intended to be an alternative to the D-handle– a sort of “half-D”– that would add prying utility to any of the hooks in IA-AM’s line. At the time, the popularity of the Halligan bar and New York Roof hook (both double-ended tools) was well established. But, this was many months before the avalanche of other double-ended tool combinations started to show up. So, to demonstrate the potential safety, functionality, and appeal of such an option, a mock-up of the newly designed end was assembled with a Hawk Tool head on the other end of a 36″ fiberglass handle.

This complete package was presented, fairly informally, to IA-AM’s owner, Marty Vitale (even though only the new hook end was under consideration). Marty said it reminded him of a scorpion’s tail and suggested calling it the “Stinger.” The resemblance was pretty obvious, so the label seemed like a good fit. When this end option was under development, it was always envisioned as a handle option for all of IA-AM’s hooks (although nobody actually asked). So, it was assumed that Marty’s “Stinger” label applied specifically to the new part. Surprise! The new catalog came out and the Stinger label was applied to the whole tool, describing it vaguely as a combination of a Hawk hook on one end and some anonymous, unnamed thing on the other.

With no part name or number to refer to, it’s no surprise that the new component wasn’t ordered in combination with any hook other than the Hawk. Similarly, even though it was said to be available in “alternate handle lengths to suit your specific needs,” the catalog introduced it as a 36″ tool. With no provision made for specifying another length, virtually all of the Stingers were produced as 36-inchers. It was over 20 years before this “Jake Rake”-like end got its own unique identity (the “Raptor” end), combined use with a variety of other components, and fans of its own.

MW Stinger 2

A RINGER” FOR THE “STINGER.” I’m always happy to see photos of predecessor Iowa-American’s tools, especially my own designs, and particularly those that are still out there in the field, “working.”

But, this one was also a reminder of a funny story related to the introduction of the Stinger. As you can probably imagine, the fire equipment industry has its own share of camaraderie and rivalries amongst its members. Of course, one regular subject of interaction between manufacturers of fire tools is intellectual property– who designed that (is it a copy of something we did?), where did they get the idea (from us?), is it protected by patent or copyright (who owns the rights to it?), is it public domain (can we do something with it?), etc.? Naturally, Iowa-American came in for its share of this kind of scrutiny. One such skirmish occurred shortly after IA-AM’s introduction of the “Stinger.” A short time later, a witty competitor answered with a new product of their own, the “Ringer.”

MW Ringer
Both the Stinger and the Ringer proved to be fairly popular combinations. We’ll leave the Stinger/Ringer comparison to readers. But, a quick check in the dictionary suggests that there’s some interesting karma in play, here.

CONCLUSION. This was an interesting “tipping point” in fire tool design. Before the Stinger, most overhaul tools stuck with a pretty narrow range of end options: a) some of the longer hooks had only their primary tool on one end, with nothing on the other, b) other long-handled tools had ram caps, gas and/or water shut-offs, c) a few– most notably the New York Roof hook– had a prying appendage of some type on the bottom end, and d) a variety of long and short tools could be secured with a D-handle. However, the Stinger and the Ringer, which it inspired, called attention to the potential value of multi-ended tools. The floodgates have opened, greatly expanding the range of multi-functional tools available, and energizing a fresh generation of creative tool designers and innovative new tools.

Hawk Works– Dealing with DOORS

AREN’T THERE ANY APPLICATIONS? If some of you have tried to use this site as to get tips on how to use MalvenWorks tools, you’ve noted that there haven’t been any. That was one of our very first goals for the site. But, except for a few very brief notes on application of the tools (all of which seemed to come up short and came down fairly quickly), We’re going to take another stab at it.

Firefighters tend to have a mechanical sixth sense and figure out things to do with tools that the developers never imagined. So, having to provide instructions for the use of a hand tool almost seems like a sure sign that the tool isn’t working right. Nevertheless, a friend, Andy Levy from the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, convinced me, long ago, that it doesn’t hurt to stimulate discussion of tool use and uses. So, a quick (but, eventually, very thorough) guide to applications of the tools is underway. And, we’ll be posting installments of these segments as they develop.

The goal is to give just enough information to “jump-start” user experimentation with their tools. So, the format will be very simple. Almost like baseball cards– we’ll try to summarize each application in a concise, standardized way with: 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. Initially, we’ll concentrate on the Hawk Tool system of parts. Entry tools at a later date/

USING HAWK TOOLS ON DOORS. Although the Hawk Tool was intended to be a versatile overhaul tool, a number of people have mentioned using their tool for light to medium duty forcible entry. So, to kick the project off with a note of irony, the first cluster of Use-Its will focus on applications involving doors.

KNOW YOUR “TOOLS.” In conclusion, make a mental (or even physical) list of situations you’re likely to encounter that have something to do with doors. Envision specific tasks you may have to perform. Then, with your tools in front of you, start inventorying characteristics that allow those tools to contribute to safe, timely, and efficient completion to tasks.

GOT APPLICATIONS OF YOUR OWN? Submit photo(s) of your applications (with either positive, negative, or uncertain(?) outcomes), along with brief explanation(s) and contact info. We’ll convert it to our format, give you credit for the contribution, and post it, ASAP. And, of course, if you’ve got recommendations for how to improve our efforts in this area, send those along to: malven@malvenworks.com.

Iowa-American “Chauffeur’s” Pike Axe, Hampden Township (PA)

SEAGRAVE RESCUE WITH A PRIZE INSIDE. One of the interesting things about fire tool cultural anthropology is that you never know what you’re going to stumble across or where. When looking at an exhibition of new fire apparatus, you get lulled into thinking that all the tools and equipment on board will be new, too. Not so. I found a case in point at a Lancaster Fire Expo, a couple of years ago. As I was browsing in their massive exhibit area, I noticed a nice Seagrave-based heavy rescue being displayed by the Hampden Township Fire Company 30, Mechanicsburg, PA. I was actually on my way to see another unit so, after a quick inspection, I turned around and walked back by the open rear door of the squad body and continued on. But, suddenly it dawned on me that I’d almost missed a real gem, mounted unobtrusively inside the back door.


ABOUT AS ICONIC AS YOU CAN GET (WHILE BEING ALMOST TOTALLY UNIQUE). There, on the left sidewall, within reach from outside the back door, was a well-cared-for example of the [by then defunct] Iowa-American Firefighting Equipment Company’s unique 8-pound “pike” axe (as they consistently referred to it). Other than using them and dragging them along to classes, I hadn’t had a thing to do with these axes during the time that I worked with Iowa-American (IA-AM), but the pick-heads were still among my very favorite tools. How could you avoid it; its appearance says “pure firefighting classic.” And, in its catalog description, IA-AM stated that it “continued their innovative tradition by reintroducing the old-style 8-pound Pike Axe, the traditional tool of [FDNY] truck company chauffeurs.” Lovely. But, the axe was hardly a typical fire service pick-head.

This one is an almost total departure from other axes of its era. Most standard FD axes have a rapidly tapering blade that terminates in a fairly thin, sharp lower cutting edge. By contrast, the IA-AM pick-head shared the blade of its older-model, flat-head sister by employing a broad, deep blade. That flat-head had a slowly narrowing blade that terminated somewhat abruptly in a rather blunt, deep-bellied edge. This was more of a “bashing” edge than a typical cutting edge. In some respects, it seemed to anticipate the breaking (versus cutting) approach to design and usage employed by (in order of blunt severity) various modern offerings such as the Fire Mauls, Iron Fox axes, and Pig/Piglet tools.

Product description of Iowa-American’s 8-pound “Pike” Axe from their 5th catalog, 1995/1996. It clearly shows the pick-head’s evolution from the flat-head version which preceded it by several years.

By far, though, this axe’s most distinctive characteristic was the shape of its pick. In profile it had a vertical front edge that curved backward toward the top to intersect with a perfectly vertical back edge. However, the IA-AM’s was more vertical in front and its rearward curve was unusually abrupt. The pick itself was rather short in proportion to the overall height of the axe. And, then there was its shape– while the pick on virtually every other pick-head fire axe is rectangular or square in cross-section, this one’s was triangular. It tapered uniformly from front to back leaving a fairly sharp rear-facing edge. So, all-in-all, the weight, huge, broad blade, cast stainless steel (in most cases) material, and unique pick came together to form a perfect symbol of truck work, even though it wasn’t much at all like the vast majority of axes actually in use. That happens.

Iowa-American Phase III Hawk Prototype, Newton (IA) Fire Department

LADDER 56, NEWTON (IA) FD. Tanner Owen (bottom photo, with a new Hawk Tool he got for graduating from his paramedic program) was, for several years, a member of the Nevada Community Fire Department, my long-time affiliation. He is one of a long string of gung-ho Nevada firefighters who have found their way into the career fire service. Soon after his arrival at Newton, he sent several photos of the small, working museum of Iowa-American tools carried on the department’s Ladder 56 (photo below). I’ll address some of the tools at a later time. I’ve written about the beauteous “Chauffeur’s Pike Axe” elsewhere (https://wordpress.com/post/malvenworks.com/4434) and will expand on that topic and others in the future. For now, Ladder 56’s toolbox provides a platform for writing about Iowa-American’s terrific impact on the fire equipment industry. I’ll start here with some attention to the phase III Hawk prototype that’s shown in the top and left bottom photos.

The focus here will be on Newton’s phase III Hawk tool prototype. Judging from the small, raised “IAF” (Iowa-American Foundry) cast into the body of the tool, this would appear to have been produced in the late 1980s or early ’90s. This is also around the time that Iowa-American (IA-AM) introduced its Multi-Length Hook System (MLHS)– parts of which are shown in the photo at the top of the tool compartment.

Among the parts of Newton’s MLHS is their Hawk, phase III prototype. It’s also shown separately. Here, the Hawk Tool design process was at a significant transition point. In one piece, you could clearly see both the initial influences of the Halligan hook and, for the first time, hints of the future Hawk Tool’s own distinct identity. With discovery of the idea of joining a downwardly-curved longitudinal blade with a second, transverse (“cross-cut”) blade, the design of the tool really took off and became its own unique tool.

But, phase III was also a frustrating time for me. I would have liked all the various design steps to stay under wraps, shared only with Iowa-American and the guys that I taught with. Instead, virtually everything that was actually developed to a test-bed prototype was immediately added to the catalog for sale, warts and all. The phase II prototype was named the Multi-Function Hook (Model MHF-1) and entered in the catalog. Virtually overnight, the phase III prototype was also given a name– “Falcon”– and added to the catalog, Model FT-1. Inexplicably, despite their numerous imperfections and functional shortcomings, both remained in the catalog as separate, and distinct offerings until the company’s dissolution in the early 2000s. Frustrating. Yet, all whining aside, it has left behind a terrific physical trail of the Hawk Tool’s history that is fun to talk and write about.

Thanks to the Newton firefighters and Tanner Owen, in particular (who got a Hawk tool for graduating from his paramedic class) for these photos and their long-term commitment to the tools.

Iowa-American “Stinger,” Montgomery Co. (MD)

MICHAEL SKIDMORE, LIEUTENANT, MONTGOMERY CO. (MD) FIRE & RESCUE SERVICES. Robert “RJ” James, a good friend and accomplished spotter of fire antiquities sent in this shot of an apparently long-time “worker” on one of Montgomery Counties rigs, where Lt. Skidmore rides the seat. It looks as bright and ready-to-go as the day it was assembled– if not far more so. Visible are its yellow fiberglass handle and what could be the original orange silicone grip. In any case, it’s finished off with the currently popular spiral wrap. At the time, almost all of Iowa-American’s hooks had fiberglass handles– most of them were solid 1″ round stock. But, a narrower, taller oval-shaped version and the classic (beefy!) Nupla “I-beam” handle were also options.

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When he first saw the end design now referred to as the Raptor, Iowa-American’s owner Marty Vitale said it reminded him of a scorpion’s tail and wanted to call it the “Stinger.” Seemed OK to me. I expected it to be an additional end option for all of IA-AM’s hooks (the two existing end options being D-handles of two different sizes). But, when it showed up in the catalog, the Stinger designation referred only to the combination of a Hawk head on one end and Stinger on the other– i.e., the whole tool (such as Lt. Skidmore’s, in the photo) was a Stinger, not just the new end part.  As far as I know, IA-AM didn’t end up producing any of their other hooks with what has become the Raptor end.

Hawk Works– Dealing With FENCES (CHAIN-LINK)

EXPANDING THE BOUNDARIES. The goal of these periodic tool application segments is to provide some food for thought, specifically to focus attention on considerations that will help users maximize the functional potential of the tools they carry. And, if one of those tools of choice happens to be a Hawk Tool, we hope the concepts presented here will trigger the user’s own creativity and further expand its day-to-day utility.

DEALING WITH CHAIN-LINK. One mischievous feature that shows up commonly at structure fires is chain-link fencing. Its significance can range anywhere from being a minor nuisance to forming a critical, life-threatening barrier to access and escape. Clearly, there’s no better defense than knowing our district (including known and likely barriers), weighing options, and arriving with a solution in hand before encountering a problem. But, things are seldom as simple as that. Ultimately, when you encounter the unexpected– or the unimaginable– you may have to couple your experience, your ingenuity, and the “tools” at hand to formulate a solution. Here’s some food-for-thought with regard to chain-link fence:

Raptor-- Fence, Bend Side Ties

These last two illustrations are best thought of as two steps in the same process. Collectively, they involve using the talon (curved point) of the Raptor tool end to disconnect chain-link fence mesh from its supportive metal tube framework. After using the talon as a wedge to spread and disconnect fasteners from the mesh (illustrated above), the mesh can be rolled to the side to create a fairly quick duck-under passage through the fence. But, for greater convenience, you might as well go ahead and shorten the top tube– by kinking it, as shown in the lower illustration– and sliding it out of the way or removing it all-together.

Raptor-- Fence, Bend Top Pole

SO?… The point of these illustrations is not to suggest these as instructions for using the tools. It’s more to encourage a process of listing some of the tasks you’re potentially going to encounter, then trying to come up with as many ways as possible to use the tools that you actually carry to deal with them. So, the goal is to cultivate and promote creative use of tools in general.

Nashville (TN)– The Hawk’s First Dance in Nashville

C.F.T. RAIDS THE EXPO. In mid-October, 2019, our good friend Robert James, RJ, and members of Capital Fire Training’s (CFT) travelin’ roadshow, took Nashville by storm,  delivering an ambitious array of lectures and HOT classes at the 2019 Firehouse Expo. Among their collaborators were Edwin Feagins and other members of Nashville’s Rescue 13.MW RJ & Rescue 13 Expo

HAWK TOOL FINDS A NEW HOME. From time-to-time, RJ takes along a few of our tools on teaching assignments. A couple of “Monster” Halligans and Hawk Tools went with him to Nashville. As things turn out, one of the Hawks stayed behind. Apparently, the NFD troops have been takin’ the tool out at night, showing it a good time. In any event, it looks like it’s been adopted by Rescue 13 and will be making the NFD its new home.

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