ONE-TOOL ARSENAL OF FIRE-FIGHTING FUNCTION. One thing’s for sure: if you’re fighting fire, you don’t go empty-handed. You take the tool(s) that will cover your basic assignment and a lot more. But, there are a lot of tool options; what do you take? If you want to travel light, but be ready for virtually anything, take a Malven Hawk Tool.
The Hawk is a multi-purpose fire hook. While originally developed primarily for overhaul (fire-finding) work, the angular geometry of its various components makes it an excellent choice for many entry, ventilation, and general elevated operations, as well. But, beyond that, in the hands of a skilled, creative firefighter, its unique combination of forms and edges provide an immediate option for dealing with even the most unusual and unexpected of situations. It’s a virtual one-tool arsenal of firefighting function.
THE HAWK TOOL SYSTEM is comprised of four distinctly different components. Each is intended to make unique contributions to a firefighter’s abilities while complimenting the functionality of either of its two counterparts.
THE “HAWK” HEAD is the backbone of the Hawk system, especially for interior operations. It is distinguished by a sharp, rounded, downward facing, “crosscut” blade that is excellent for chopping. Used perpendicular to the grain, this blade can simultaneously split and break wood components into more easily managed pieces. It also forms a broad pulling surface. The Hawk’s radiused front edge helps control the depth of chopping cuts and, the forward curve of its blade helps draw its blade easily out of holes with a forward, upward movement of the handle.
Across the back of the Hawk head, a rear-facing “crosscut” adze handles prying and peeling functions. It’s ideal for the routine chore of prying apart building assemblies and trim. But, its keen rear edge also chisels behind even the toughest, tightest seams between materials, easily peeling up thin and/or glued down materials such as vinyl or ceramic tile, sheet flooring, asphalt shingles and tightly fastened hardware, grills, cover plates, etc.– jobs that other, blunt hooks only bounce over. It can help transform awkward floor covering into compact rolls. Or if rolls would be too bulky, the sharp crosscut rib in the “mouth” of the adze can be used to split out small openings in floor covering for inspection, or rip it into smaller, more manageable pieces, for easy removal. When a particularly stubborn prying job is encountered, the flat rear surface of the adze provides a firm striking surface for driving it in, to gain a firmer foothold. In any case, once it gets a purchase, the short fulcrum of the adze provides plenty of force, making light work of popping things apart.
Viewed from the top, the Hawk’s overall chisel wedge shape becomes evident. This is handy for prying at a little more distance. For example, slid upward, on its side, it quickly pops loose crown moldings, or slid downward, or sideways, it deals more quickly and easily with baseboards and door trim.
Working outside– especially from a ladder– these same piercing (spearlike) thrusts with the wedge are a great way of prying away siding, fascias, batten strips, gutters, etc. If you’re plagued with lots of boarded-up buildings, this same stabbing motion pulls plywood and particle board way from window facings, where it can be finished off with the adze. As with the adze, the rear face of the wedge has a flat surface for striking and driving the tool.
Finally, the Hawk head was designed with a couple of useful details that aren’t immediately obvious. Some firefighters prefer to pair their Halligan bar with their hook of the day. The adze of the Hawk was designed to facilitate such a marriage, by providing a nesting point for the forks of most popular Halligan bars. A second feature is even less obvious. The interior depth of a modern stud wall is 3.5″. That’s less than the depth of some popular hooks. When overhauling stud walls, the Hawk’s 3″ depth allows for easy removal of drywall, lath-and-plaster, or other surfacing material on the firefighter’s side of the wall without also having to break materials on the opposite side, as well. Piercing, prying, pulling, chopping, peeling? The Hawk head’s ready, with just a flick of your wrist.
THE “RAPTOR” END was originally developed as a more functional alternative to a “D”-handle. Its “question-mark” shape is admittedly reminiscent of the familiar Boston Rake tool (NOTE: Soon after Iowa American Fire Equipment introduced the Raptor end as part of their “Stinger” tool– with a Hawk head on one end and the Raptor on the other– a competitor introduced a similar tool with the familiar Halligan hook on one end and a Boston Rake on the other. They called theirs the “Ringer.” It was. And, it was actually a pretty clever piggy-back marketing on their part).
In any event, we feel our Raptor end is superior in function to all its various look-alikes. The Raptor’s open end and finger notch provide for a firm, secure grip for any size hand, with or without heavy fire gloves. The narrow, chisel proportions of the Raptors pike can be hooked and or driven into tight spaces and dense materials.
Like a good conventional “D” handle, the Raptor also extends the effective length of a hook by allowing firefighters to reach up and pierce, penetrate and pull ceiling materials from the very end of the handle. However, unlike a “D,” the Raptor is far more than just a handle extension. Like the Hawk head, its narrow proportions provide a secure nesting point for a Halligan bar’s claw (it will actually accommodate the narrower fork gaps of some older Halligan designs, that the Hawk won’t). Like a flat-head axe, the long narrow striking surface on its back slides down and strikes the extended, right-angle shoulders of a modern Halligan’s fork for setting the forks for forcible entry under tight quarters, low visibility conditions. By contrast, a round, sledgehammer-like striking surface tends to only ricochet off these protrusions.
The Raptor end anchors the tool’s effectiveness in performing exterior operations. Its finger notch was sized to allow it to be hooked under the rung os a ladder rung (especially a roof ladder), point up, to secure it in place until needed. Hooked under the bottom rung of a too-short roof ladder, this feature can also enhance the safety of transition from a ground ladder to the roof ladder under adverse conditions. Once on the roof, if carried by itself, the point of the Raptor can easily be driven into a steep roof for footing.
Although Hawk and Raptor components can’t compete with a Halligan bar for entry purposes, its pike can be used in a similar manner to force many lighter weight door/lock combinations. The pike’s flat back surface can also be struck and driven into padlocks, hasps, rim lock assemblies (after pulling the lock), car trunk locks, etc., to gain entry. Bars and security gates are always unpredictable, often challenging, entry and egress barriers. However, the curved, rapidly expanding proportions of the Raptor’s pike, can frequently be driven between steel assemblies and the structures they are mounted onto or into to facilitate their removal.
Naturally, the Hawk Tool is also at home outside, performing exterior operations. The Raptor end could conceivably even inspire replacement of your current favorite roof operations tool. For starters, its finger notch is sized to reach over one rung of a ladder and grip outward onto the rung above. This allows the tool to be secured to a ground ladder or roof ladder while other equipment is moved into position. This technique can be particularly valuable when the roof ladder available is shorter than the reach up to the roof’s peak– the hook, secured to the bottom of the short roof ladder can be used to push the ladder up, beyond arm’s length, to the peak, then used as an anchor to bridge the gap between the ground and roof ladders. Once on the roof, the weight and curved profile of the pike make it an incomparable sounding tool. It can then transition to being driven into the roof as a foothold or used immediately to pull open cut roof panels. Clearly, recent imitations of the Raptor’s appearance haven’t been concerned with assessing or duplicating its functionality.
THE “HALLUX,” named for the rear talon of a raptor’s clawed foot, is the third component option. It was developed as a solution for those who liked certain aspects of the other components but needed a tool that could be stored in commonly used 2″ pike pole tubes. Its functions are similar to those the Raptor. Principle among these is its longitudinal pry end, which provides a good balance of compactness, slender proportions, and unusual lift. Behind the pry end is a gap** intended primarily as a shallow pull-down hook. Like the finger notch in the Raptor end, the notch in Hallux can be used to hook into the rung of a roof or ground ladder for several different functions. However, when used in conjunction with a Halligan bar as a slopping. variable height fulcrum, it also greatly enhances the height and force of the pry end’s lift.
**NOTE: After an afternoon of experimentation, this gap was christened the “Frederick Notch” after the group of Frederick, MD, rescue squad firefighters who pioneered this lifting application (see photos by East Coast fire photographer Trevor James, below)
MATERIALS. “Hawk” and “Raptor” components are made of a premium precipitation-hardening stainless steel that provides an outstanding combination of high strength, good corrosion resistance, good mechanical properties under extended core temperatures of up to 600°F (316°C), and unyielding toughness in both the base metal and welds. They are precision investment cast, resulting in forms and edges that are crisp, smooth, uniform, and exceptionally easy to maintain. The Hawk’s chopping and peeling edges are delivered with a slightly beaded edge for maximum durability. If desired, users can hone them to a sharpness not practical with normal malleable iron tools. But, even as delivered, these edges can gain purchase between tight fitting assemblies and cut through materials that other overhaul tools can’s touch.
WEIGHT. The table below summarizes the weights of various combinations of Hawk Tool components. These can be compared with 6′-0″ (72″) versions of other popular tools. Although there is variation among “Hawk Tools,” as a generalization, they tend to be just slightly heavier than the “average” hook. But(!),…they’re tough, durable, trouble-free and versatile. That’s something, right?
HANDLE MATERIALS. Currently, handles for these overhaul tools are made of 1″ O.D. tubular, chrome-moly steel. This is the same material commonly used in race car frames due to its toughness and shock absorbent properties. Our tool components are TIG welded to each end of these handles with fillers appropriate to the alloys involved.
For those requiring other types of handle materials, rugged cast stainless steel sockets can be welded to tool ends to adapt them to either 1″ O.D. round handles or the larger 1-3/8″ O.D. Nupla-type round, “I-Beam” and “Axe” handles, such as the example shown below. Contact MalvenWorks for information on costs and delivery times.
ADDING A HALLUX TO YOUR FAVORITE HOOK. There are lots of good hooks out there. If your own “perfect” hook falls a little short in the prying department, we have one specialty item that may be of interest. We’ve created a variation of the Hallux end that’s case with an integrated socket that allows it to be added quickly to the other end of a 1″ O.D. handle– just add a spare amount of epoxy (maybe an optional steel spring pin) and you’ll greatly amplify the value of your old friend.
DESIGN. As noted earlier, each of our designs is unique, evolved from years of field experience with numerous consecutive prototypes (this development process will be outlined elsewhere in this site, as time permits). The Hawk Tool component has a chopping, pulling or prying surface for every application. The angular geometry of each functional edge or surface has been carefully refined to take account of comfortable firefighter postures and fit with finished tools, position(s) relative to the work being done, common clearances with adjacent assemblies, etc. Since, like many comparable overhaul and elevated operations tools, the Hawk is intended to be used in league with a Halligan bar, the Hawk Tool does something about it– both the Hawk and Raptor components are designed to nest and interlock with the forks of a Halligan, for effortless, one-handed carry.
And, the precision and edge-holding characteristics of the investment cast stainless steel makes the tool inherently adaptable to special overhaul challenges that other tools can’t begin to address. So, while we can’t provide the familiar standbys, if you are looking for something even better in performance, versatility, and durability, we hope you’ll give us a look. We think we have what you need.