Indianapolis (IN)– Putting Some Miles on in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS FIRE DEPARTMENT STATION 13. “Central Station”– as the label suggests, Indianapolis Station 13 is right in the center of the city– literally and figuratively. Its stable includes Engine 13, Ladder 13, Squad 13, Tactical 13, and Battalion 7. Collectively, they are part of IFD’s Southern Hazmat Task Force and first-due for much of downtown. And, along with Station 19 (1004 South White River Parkway), Station 13 is closest to Conseco Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Indiana Conventional Center, home of the annual Fire Department Instructor’s Conference. including the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC). So, if you’ve ever gone station hopping at FDIC, there’s a good chance you’ve been there.

Indy Fire Station 13

A BUSY SEPTEMBER FOR LADDER 13. Its always fun to see photos of our tools at work in the field. So, we were glad to get a note from ever-vigilant Nic Hutchinson of the Johnston-Grimes (IA) Metropolitan Fire Department, calling our attention to a Facebook photo posted by the Indianapolis Fire Department. Since early in 2020, IFD’s Ladder 13 has had a Hawk/Raptor in their toolbox. Nic noticed that it had been getting some use.

On September 27 (2020), at around 2:30 AM units were called out for multiple reports of heavy fire showing in a vacant commercial building on Oliver Ave. Stations 19 and 13 were assigned on the alarm, including Ladder 13. First arriving Engine 19 found a well-involved masonry commercial building well-involved on the corner. Fire was spreading rapidly from a single-story extension on the rear into the upper level of the two-story main building. A fully engulfed pick-up truck was parked adjacent to open window and door openings on the “B” side of the building.

The fire building was pretty well known in the “Valley” neighborhood. It was the home of Hoffa’s Silver Cafe, a hoppin’ place in its time. The owner was a cousin of Jimmy Hoffa, a leader of the Teamsters union in the 50s and 60s, and the subject of considerable media attention in the 1970s. The cafe was a short walk from a former General Motors assembly plant, a popular afternoon and evening meeting place for the unions, other workers in the area, and the neighborhood.

Indy Hoffa's Mkg.Entry w:Hawk**

The fire was brought under control in 30 minutes. But, there was plenty of overhaul left to do before the last units could take up. The fire was under investigation.

LADDER 13, A BIT EARLIER IN THE MONTH. Looking through other IFD posts for September, it was obvious that they’d had a busy month. The summer was punctuated by a number of suspicious fires in vacant buildings. Among them was a vacant structure at 346 Miley Ave., midday on Sept. 24th. Arriving units, including Ladder 13, found heavy smoke showing from a single-story, wood-frame dwelling with a tight “D” side exposure. Crews quickly gained access to the tightly boarded structure, bringing the fire under control in 10 minutes.

Sept. 24th -1

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Ladder 13’s Hawk Tool was among the array of hand and power tools on-hand for dealing with the tightly buttoned-up Miley St. dwelling.

FIRE HAMMER WORKING, TOO. Also among the less common tools at work in Indy during this busy summer was my personal every-day-carry,  fire officer Nick Childer’s Fire Hammer. For me, it’s proven to be a good complement to the more familiar choices that show up on every job. It’s a great “O”-tool, and a personal overall favorite.

Nashville (TN)– Rescue 13 Still Reeling ‘Em In

GETTIN’ THE WORK. During the past year, we’ve gotten a bunch of shots of Hawk Tools in action with the Squaddies at Nashville’s busy Rescue 13. This sharp, close-in photo is one of the most recent, sent by R13’s Phillip Wade. The Hawk’s keeping its head down, mid-way, at shoulder height between the two central firefighters.

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THE BIGGER PICTURE. On a day-to-day basis, there’s a tendency to think of things within the microscopic perspective of our own local operations. Phillip Wade’s Facebook posts from earlier in October serve as a humbling reminder of the much broader regional and national contributions made by members of the fire service. He and others from Nashville’s USAR Task Force 2, joined Louisiana’s USAR contingent and other teams from Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas in responding to Hurricane Delta. Collectively, well over 500 structural collapse and water search and rescue specialists responded. Hats off to all involved– the symbol of U.S. preparedness and coordinated response.


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 note how certain tools have come to be emblematic of a specific high visibility fire department– and vise versa. It’s hard to think about LAFD roof operations, for example, without imagining a set of their signature “Rubbish” hooks and Collins Seagrave-inspired Fire Axe Inc. pick head axes (and Stihl saws, of course).

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 pickhead axes (top left photo, above (a more typical example is seen in the center photo by popular photographer Tim Olk). And, closing your eyes, it’s hard to form an image of Boston operations without including a haystack of ground ladders and a collection of “Rakes” (bottom photo, above). You wouldn’t be alone if you did; despite its simple quirkiness their hook (rake?) has developed a strong, enthusiastic following throughout the U.S. (right photo, above). Finally, few tools are more popular or more strongly associated with their home department than the “New York Roof Hook,” except, perhaps, the hallowed Halligan bar, itself.

MALVENWORKS– 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? Yeah, Nevada, Iowa– our local fire department. So when you think of Malven hooks and entry bars, think of Nevada (and selected others– maybe yours?). We appreciate every one of you.

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.

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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Rockville (MD)–Hawk Rides New Aerialscope

ROCKVILLE’S A PRETTY BUSY PLACE. Running out of three houses, the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, is a busy outfit. They ran a total of 20, 239 incidents in 2018.  In February of 2019, Rockville’s Board of Directors announced its purchase of a new 2018 Seagrave Aerialscope, to be designated Tower 703 and running out of Station 3. In 2018, its predecessor, a 2007 Pierce rear-mount aerial tower owned by Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue, answered well over 2000 calls. That was an increase of 200 over the previous year. So, the Seagrave will have its work cut out for it.

RIDIN’ ON THE “HOOD.”  Of course, we’re delighted to have our tools riding to work anywhere on anybody’s fire apparatus. But, as noted elsewhere in an earlier post, Phase II Hawk on Charlotte (NC) Truck 13, we take special pride when one secures a particularly prominent spot. And, a ride on the front bumper extension (as what we call the “hood ornament”) is about as prominent as you get– a real cause for celebration.

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 6.57.09 PM0Well, we’re celebrating. Good friend Robert James, a Rockville Captain, sent us a photo of a bright green 6′ Hawk/Raptor, mounted on new Tower 3’s “hood,” with a big smile on its face. And, for icing on the cake, Capt. James included a video clip of the tool being used to drive a Halligan to gain entry at a recent structure fire. Life is good.

Veteran “Falconers”

“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.

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:



JD DuCharme, Firefighter, Beaver Dam (WI) Fire Department

NICE LOOKIN’ TOOL TEAM.  A while back, we got a note from Southern Wisconsin firefighter JD DuCharme with a shot of his well-put-together tool team, a Lone Star Axe “Piglet” and a five-foot Hawk Versatool (Hawk head with a Raptor end).

JD DuCharme Hawk:Piglet EDC

OBVIOUSLY, NOT JUST FOR LOOKS.  A short time later, JD sent a couple of helmet cam snaps of his tools getting into mischief at a residential job. At first glance, the Hawk Tool is hard to detect in the bottom shot. JD’s ex-military.  I think he must have his hook wrapped in some kind of high-tech “worker” camo scheme, or something? It blends right in.


THE PIG AND HAWK: A POPULAR COMBO. JD’s in good comapny– two other of our favorite heavy hitters have commented on frequent use of the Hawk/Pig tool team– Wichita’s Isaac Frazier and Baltimore’s Tim Brozoskie.

Nevada (IA) Community Fire Department

THE NEVADA COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT.  Having worked for 35 years with the Nevada Community Fire Department (NCFD), Nevada, Iowa, it would be unthinkable to consider anyplace else the birthplace of the Hawk Tool.  The department has tolerated an infusion of Hawk Tools (and other experimental equipment) on its apparatus for years.  And, Its members have effectively become Malvenworks’ primary research and development team.

Nevada is the county seat for Story County, approximately 30 miles north (on Interstate 35) and 7 miles east (on US Highway 30) of Des Moines, Iowa’s capital.  NCFD  serves a suburban/rural fire district of approximately 144 square miles and a population of approximately 9000.  Within its boundaries are 12 miles of Interstate 35 (connecting Kansas City, MO and Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN), 12 miles of US Highway 30 and the junction of Union Pacific Railroad’s former Rock Island North/South “Spine Line,” and its busy double-track, East/West “Overland Route” mainline, roughly 45 linear miles of the busiest rail line in Iowa.

EVOLUTION OF THE DEPARTMENT.  Iowa was designated as a separate territory in 1838 and became the 29th state in 1846.  Nevada was first platted in 1853. Its fire department was established in 1860, a year before the start of the American Civil War (as a point of reference, the Iowa City Fire Department– arguably the oldest in the state– was authorized in 1842).

The department is now part of Nevada’s Department of Public Safety and is, itself, comprised of two divisions, Fire Protection (which includes selected technical rescue incidents, Haz-Mat first response, and initial response to environmental emergencies) and EMS (which performs medical first responder services).  It is staffed by a career Chief (Director of Fire and EMS) and a nominal membership of 50 volunteers, most of whom are cross-trained for both functions. The agency responds to approximately 700 calls a year, roughly 70% of which are calls for emergency medical services.


CURRENT APPARATUS.  The department currently operates a Sutphen 70′ “Mini-Tower” and two Spartan engines– one a Spartan/Toyne engine-tank, the other a new Spartan/Toyne rescue engine.  Nevada also houses two tankers, two 4WD Ford wildland units, and a medium-duty 4WD Ford rescue squad.  For several years, the department operated a heavy rescue squad staffed primarily by EMS providers.  However, over the years the extrication function has shifted to fire personnel. Now both of the departments engines are equipped for extrication service, providing greater flexibility in responding to rescue calls and freeing more EMS responders for medical service at motor vehicle and technical rescue incidents.

Nevada Apparatus
Nevada’s principal apparatus, counterclockwise from left center: Truck 110 (70′ Sutphen Tower), Rescue Engine 210 (1500/750 Spartan/Toyne), Engine 310 (1250/1000 Spartan Toyne), Colo Fire & Rescue’s Rescue Pumper 904 (background).

HAND TOOLS & EQUIPMENT.  Nevada has, for many years, carried a generous inventory of hand tools on its front-line apparatus.  And, the equipment carried by major apparatus has tended to be fairly uniform in type, number, and mounting locations.  For example, the cabs of each of the engines and the ladder truck carry two Hawk Tools, two Halligan bars, a flathead axe, a pickhead axe and two Clemens hooks.  The Hawk Tools are mounted by door on the officer’s side of the rear riding compartment as shown in the photos below (upper right and bottom): one is mounted by itself, the other is mated with a Halligan bar. The second Halligan bar is mounted with a flathead (conventional “married set” fashion).  Each paired set of tools (Hawk/Halligan and Flathead/Halligan) is secured in a PAC Irons-Lok.  On the opposite side of the riding compartment are the pickhead axe and a “closet hook-length” Clemens hook.

Elsewhere, in one or more tool compartments (example below, in top, left photo), these units carry a fairly standard complement of chainsaws, positive pressure ventilation blowers, forcible entry “married sets,” thermal imagers and a Pulaski axe, longer Clemens hooks, an Odd-job hook (also called a Universal hook), wrecking bars, crowbars of varying lengths, and bolt cutters.

BIRTH OF THE HAWK TOOL.  The Hawk Tool was most directly influenced by the development and delivery of “hands-on” courses on truck company operations.  However, the truck company course, itself, was a direct result of working with the Nevada Fire Department.  The department has long embodied a very active group of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders, outstanding community support and a moderate– but persistent and varied– volume of emergency calls.  The   most direct inspiration for the Hawk Tool’s development was the department’s long-standing tradition of “truck work.”  Its Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was organized in 1913, making it one of the very earliest “truck company” operations in the Midwest.

All-in-all, the Hawk would be hard-pressed to find a better, more innovative, place to call home.

Jimmy Butler, EVO, District of Columbia Fire Department, Washington, DC; Captain, Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department, Hyattsville, MD

THE D.C. CONNECTION. Veteran Hawk-stalker Randy Jones called to advise that he’d spotted a Hawk Tool in a photo on DCFD Squad 3’s Facebook page of a DC apartment house job. A couple of photos pictured a firefighter staged on a fire escape landing with a Hawk, preparing for overhaul. But, it wasn’t clear what other companies had been on the scene. Actually, this was Randy’s second website spotting of a Hawk in DC– he’d seen an earlier showed a couple of Hawk’s perched under the tiller seat of a DCFD tractor-trailer aerial.  But, again, the unit wasn’t identifiable.  Hmmm?

But, there aren’t a lot of Hawk Tools in DC, and I knew long-time Hawk user Jimmy Butler was working at DC’s Truck 8. So, it seemed like a good possibility that Truck 8 was present at one or both of the sightings.  A few months later, longtime buddy Andy Levy and I were delivering tools nearby and decided to give Engine 33/Truck 8 a call on the off-chance that Jimmy was working. He was. So, we stopped by for a visit.

It had been a while since I’d seen Jimmy. He’s well acquainted with the Hawk Tool but hadn’t seen or used the production version of the recently introduced “Hallux” end. So, we left a 5′ Hawk/Hallus combination with him to get his feedback on that combination.

DC’s numerous tractor-trailer aerials have are designed with lots of convenient space for tools and equipment. And, it’s well utilized. But, like any other busy metro fire company, Truck 8’s assigned piece has to go out of service from time-to-time for maintenance. That means the crew gets to refamiliarize themselves with some of its more specialized tools by transferring it to a temporary reserve truck. Such was the case on the day of our visit; reserve Truck 42 was filling in for Truck 8. But, you’d never know it by looking in its compartments. It still carried a variety of resources that would be the envy of most of the Midwestern fire departments I’m familiar with.

As it turned out, we had a pretty short visit. The 3rd Battalion is a busy corner of DC and Truck 8 was in and out of the station 3 times during the brief time we were there. But, having missed them completely on previous occasions, I guess we were lucky to catch Jimmy and company in quarters at all. Life in the District.

As a footnote, if you go looking for shots of the 3rd Battalion in action, one of the best places to look is on the “DCFD Rescue 3” Facebook page. Unless they’re already out on assignment, Rescue 3 runs with every working structure assignment. Thanks to them and their contributors for some of the photos used here.

THE HYATTSVILLE (MD) CONNECTION. Actually, Jimmy has been acquainted with the Hawk Tool about as long as anyone in the area. Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince Georges County (just North of DC) was one of the first stations to get the original prototypes, back in the late 80s and early 90s. They’ve had them on their trucks and squads ever since.

Virtually since its founding, HVFD has been a special operation. “Graduates” of Hyattsville benefit from at least three distinctive departmental characteristics:

  1. A Melting-Pot of Fire Service Culture. They have a live-in program that gives qualified volunteers from diverse locations a chance to explore active, responsible participation in the fire service without jeopardizing the benefits of a quality formal education. Jimmy started as a member of HVFD’s “bunkroom gang” (members who lived in the station while working or attending school) in the late 2000s while completing a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. Whether living in the station or not, this program fosters and solidifies life-long friendships and public service networks.
  2. Some of the Best Experience Anywhere. Members are expected to complete a rigorous schedule of training requirements and take advantage of numerous other training and public service opportunities. These have prepared many of HVFD’s volunteer members, like Jimmy, for service as valued career members of some of America’s premier fire departments.
  3. A Self-Sustaining Tradition of Excellence. Finally, Hyattsville never seems to have EX-members, in the usual sense of the word– their slogan might as well be “Once at Hyattsville, always from and of Hyattsville.” HVFD regularly celebrates the achievements of its “graduates” and their alumni continue to return the investment with dividends. Jimmy’s a good example. Years after joining the District of Columbia, he continues to serve as an active Hyattsville volunteer Captain and leader. He is, among other things, one of HVFD’s most active instructors on specialized equipment and practices. 

So, one of Hyattsville’s strongest contributions to its members is the opportunity to benefit from– and then participate in– a self-sustaining tradition of excellence.

THE AVOCA (PA) CONNECTION. It is clear from a review of other background information that his roots in the fire service were already well grounded when he applied for the live-in program at Hyattsvijlle. He started out in the fire service as a junior member of the Avoca Fire Department, Luzerne County, PA, Station 112. Like Hyattsville’s, Avoca’s Facebook page periodically recognizes Jimmy’s achievements elsewhere and remarks on his continued return visits to provide training for the current troops.

CLOSE OF A CHAPTER, BUT THE STORY CONTINUES. This distinctive cycle of professional growth, team-building and replenishment came together in an especially meaningful way for HVFD members and long-time buddies. Riding with Hyattsville the first week in May 2018, Jimmy worked a fire with HVFD Chief Dave “DH” Hang. There had been a long dry spell since the long-time friends ran a fire together and this may have been the last fire DH ran in their first-due before his retirement in September after 13 years as Chief. It was well documented and will be a memorable event for all involved.

We’ve valued Jimmy as a Veteran Falconer– a long-time user and critic of the Hawk Tool. But, far more importantly, he exemplifies the critical value of experiential continuity– that cycle of “learning from,” and “giving back to,” our vast fire service community. Nice knowin’ ya’.