2nd Alarm Fire, Frederick City, MD

2ND ALARM, WARREN WAY.  On July 28, 2019, Frederick City and some adjacent companies caught a job involving a series of modern, wood-frame row houses. As is commonplace, these included the attendant challenges of interconnected void spaces, combustible chimney enclosures, irregular roof configurations and tight juxtaposition of units. Add heat and humidity and you start to get the picture.

Having lived in Frederick and Frederick County for a short time (during the early stages of Hawk Tool development), the area has long held a special personal attraction and affection.  There is probably no place on earth where the probability of seeing a Hawk Tool at a structure fire is higher than in Frederick, Maryland.  As evidence of this, you could look to a recent array of photos by fire photographer Trevor James (Facebook, posted 07-28-19). It is riddled with shots of firefighters and their Hawks.

SEASONED “FALCONERS.” In common usage, a falconer is a person who hunts wild game with a falcon or hawk. We’ve expanded the idea to identify individuals who hunt fire with a Hawk Tool. Trevor’s collection of photos of the Warren Way fire (from which the photos above and below were drawn) includes four such hunters. Firefighter James McCartin III, second from the left was using one of Citizen Truck Company’s early Hawk prototypes. Regrettably, we weren’t able to identify the others by name.

FREDERICK CITY AND COUNTY, MARYLAND– HAWK TOOL INCUBATOR. The proliferation of Hawk Tools in the Frederick and Frederick County area is no accident.  Fred served with the Vigilant Hose Company No.6 from 1984 to 1986 while working as a contract course developer for the National Fire Academy– both in Emmitsburg (northern Frederick County). He later lived in and ran with Frederick’s Citizens Truck Company No.4 for six months while on sabbatical leave from Iowa State University– again, while doing work for NFA. Most of the final refinement of the [Iowa-American’s version of] the Hawk Tool (phases IV and V) was completed during his stay at Citizens. And, of course, the crew at Citizens made introductions at surrounding stations, with the result that prototype tools ended up on many of the Frederick units.

More recent return visits to Emmitsburg and Frederick led to new introductions to– and personal and departmental acquisitions of– the Hawk Tool. Without the input and support of those folks, the current refined tool would never have been realized.  And, without Trevor James’ friendship, and frequent inclusion of the tools in his images, its resurrection would have gone largely unnoticed.

Thanks, folks.

Philly Units Battle the Heat Inside & Out

THIS WAS NO SUMMER VACATION.  While some of us were trying to find a cool, shaded spot to spend the week-end, Philadelphia Firefighters spent their Sunday afternoon battling hoarding conditions in a front bedroom fire and a heat index of 106 outside.  Given the crazy heat, it was obviously no walk-in-the-park.  Among the participants was Squad 72 that came in on the SOC assignment, parking next to the 2nd Alarmers.  As can be seen, both crews were well-armed. The Squaddies kept a Halligan, a maul and a couple of medium hooks handy.  The 2nd Alarmers fought the heat with a generous inventory of bottled water, energy drinks and cold towels (which, before the day was over were probably among everyone’s tools of choice).

All photos from the Philadelphia Second Alarm Association’s Facebook site.

Philadelphia (PA)– 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’. “

Baltimore (MD)– 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.

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.

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.

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.

Baltimore (MD)– Rescue 1 Works A 14 Box

IRREGULARS.  The Hawk Tools in the photos below are oddities.  Tim Brozoskie (at the right in the top photo– at the far left, in the middle shot) may use this rare Hawk/Halligan-forks combination fairly frequently, but this is a rare photo of him with it.  Jerry Smith (at the left below; far right in the bottom) always seems to lean a bit toward the unorthodox, so in his hands, the equally rare Raptor/Hallux combo seems…ordinary.  The uniqueness of their two tools is more evident in the team photo at the bottom.  Thanks to Tim, Jerry, and the rest of the crew for getting Hawks to so many of their jobs.

MW Jerry & Tim R1
Firefighters Jerry Smith and Tim Brozoskie of BCFD Rescue 1– Jerry’s tool is a 5′ Raptor/Hallux combination; Tim’s an equally unusual Hawk/Halligan Claw combination. Photo By Stanley Jaworski– part of an album posted on Flickr.

GOOD SHOTS OF A GOOD TEAM.  All of the photos in this post are by well-known Atlantic Seaboard fire photographer Stanley Jaworski.   BCFD Rescue 1 pilot Tim “Brozo” Brozoskie posted the shot below on his Facebook page.  Its another of an ongoing string of good team photos of the lads from R1.  Stanley caught them at the completion of a working box (BCFD 1 Alarm Fire (Box 14-31) 33 S Carey St 7/17/17).  Rescue 1 is typically among the first crews to test Hawk prototypes and refinements– the photo below shows the details of the two unusual Hawks that rode along on this trip.

Rescue 1’s wagon forms a jazzy, glow-in-the-dark background for this 14 Box post-mortem.  Jerry Smith (at the right– the inspiration for the Smithit) has a Halligan and a Hawk “Roofman,” with one of the first prototypes of the “Hallux” pry end, which is now a regular option.  Tim Brozoskie, at the other end, often carries this prototype of the Hawk “Claw” tool, which will be a regular part of the line-up starting in August 2018. Photographer Stanley “Jaws” Jaworki works for DC Fire and EMS– see more of his stuff on Facebook.
MW R1 Group Dec.15.jpg
For comparison purposes, another shot of the R1 troops from Stanley Jaworski’s Facebook pictures.  This one shows a couple of the more common Hawk/Raptor “Versa-Tool” configurations.  The Rescue Squaddies never seem to show up empty-handed.

As busy as they are, and with a variety of Hawk tools on board, it would be pretty easy to devote these Hawk-spotting posts exclusively to BCFD’ Rescue 1.  No fair– we’ll try to resist the temptation.  But, be sure to do some periodic spotting of your own on the BCFD Rescue 1 Facebook page (and, of course, Stanley’s for rich coverage of the upper Eastern Seaboard fire scene.

Thai FFs Find Fire! (CloseUp)
Good friends Noah & Jade left some Hawk shirts in Thailand this summer.

“BIRD” WATCHING is a place where we’ll be calling attention to a few sightings of Malven Hawk Tools in the media.  If you photograph a Hawk Tool in action on one of your jobs, we’d appreciate your sending us one– malven@malvenworks.com.  Include your contact information– if we use yours, we’ll send you one of our FIND FIRE! T-shirts (good for painting, changing oil in your Jeep, or giving away to fire stations you visit– very useful).

Baltimore (MD)– Tight Quarters for Truck 5

TRUCK 5’s NATURAL HABITAT– TIGHT QUARTERS.  Truck 5 is one of Baltimore City’s busier trucks– often the BUSIEST.  They catch some calls! Even a quick look at the Facebook page they share with former station-mate Engine 33, would suggest that T5 sees lots of fire in row houses.  And, they’re apparently used to working in pretty tight quarters, inside and out.

Obviously, tight quarters aren’t limited to streets or the interiors.  Randy Jones of the Des Moines (IA) Fire Department saw the two photos below on Balto Engine 33/Truck 5’s Facebook page– a fire on the 1300 block of East Biddle Street, which apparently involved a sneak-attack advance down an alley and past some chainlink fence.  In one of the photos, Hawkeye Jones spotted a Hawk Tool in an array of equipment.  It was apparently Truck 5’s stuff.  Their equipment is marked with distinctive “I wish it was still St. Patty’s Day(!),” Irish national flag-inspired orange, white and green bands.

BALTIMORE HOOD ORNAMENTS.  Baltimore’s a long way from home (i.e.. Iowa) for the Hawk Tool.  But, in fact, there are probably more of the current version of the tool riding Balto rigs than in all of Iowa put together (no big surprise; BCFD Rescue 1 EVD Tim Brozoskie’s The RAGE Company is the top seller of Hawks in the US).  One of them lives on Truck 5.  Their previous Seagrave TTA had a compact array of tools on the extended front bumper (I call ’em “hood ornaments”).  Theirs was somewhat unique in that a few of the tools rotated, depending (we assume) on the preferences of the day’s crew.  The Halligan bar was a staple; a TNT seemed to put in an appearance from time-to-time, and the rotating spot was filled by a “hook of the day.”  There seems to be a closely fought, department-wide battle for fire hook supremacy between the New York Roofman’s hook and the bare-knuckled Boston Rake.  Apparently, this skirmish extends to T5, as well.  One day it’s the Roofman, another its the Rake.  But, occasionally their Malven Hawk Tool gets into the fight and ride out a tour on the point.

Truck 5’s new wagon, see BCFD Engine 33 & Truck 5 on Facebook.

POSTSCRIPT– NEW TRUCK 5.  As this was going together, Truck 5 took delivery of a new Pierce TTA.  Nice looking piece.  So far, we haven’t heard whether the “hood ornament” tradition of carrying tools on the front bumper will continue on the new rig.

CAPTAIN RANDY JONES.  Congratulations(!) to Des Moines Fire Department’s Randy Jones on his recent promotion to Captain.  Several years ago, Des Moines made a substantial investment in tools from Iowa American Firefighting Equipment when they were still in business, including a fair number of Hawk Tools.  Randy has a couple of his own, that have followed his career, from station to station.  Thanks for helping us keep track of our Hawks, Randy.

Philadelphia (PA)– Cast Lands at Squad 72

THREE MORE LAND IN PHILLY.  For reasons that we have not yet sorted out, a group of hawks is referred to as a “cast.” Generally, individual Malven Hawk Tools arrive solo.  However, for our first installment of Bird Watching, we just got word from Philadelphia Firefighter Tim Anderson, Squad 72, that a cast of three Hawks recently arrived at their quarters.  It was comprised of two 72-inchers and a compact 30-incher.  As shown in the first photo, all of them were the versa-tool Hawk/Raptor configuration and they’re already decked out in Squad 72’s red white and blue regalia.  Those three are in addition to Tim’s original 42-incher.  He’s had that at work for about a year.  As can be seen from busy Philly photographer Aaron Mott’s shot of Squad 72 workin’, they’re pretty well decked out, ready to get it, whatever it is.

Squad 72s New Hawks
Recent additions to Squaddie Tim Anderson’s cast of Malven Hawk Tools, at Squad 72’s quarters.  Tim advised that one of them quickly flew the coop to Rescue 1.

Tim said one of the 6 footers is going to Rescue 1– may already be there.  These are busy units.  The Hawks will be keeping some pretty rough company.  It will be interesting to see how they fare.

A NOTE FOR “DANGLERS.” Philadelphia is also habitat for some other wild stuff.  If you’re into RIT and/or ropes and rigging, look up ARS– Anderson Rescue Solutions, LLC.  Tim is the owner and designer of several innovative, but highly practical, technical rescue products, including his unique Multi-Loop Rescue Strap, MLRS Rapid Deployment Bag, Rope Bags, and Static Ropes.  Very tricky.  Andersonrescue.com.  See pix: @andersonrescuesolutions.