Posted tagged ‘Halligan Modification’

Marriage Invitation: Hook and Halligan


You are cordially invited to make your outside vent tools more user friendly and efficient. The Halligan and 6′ hook has long been the baseline set of tools for the outside vent position. In my fire department the OV position is the “ladders firefighter” (FF sitting behind the driver). This position has a large amount of duties to accomplish when arriving as a first due truck. The driver is the other part of this two person team but we routinely operate by ourselves around the outside of the building performing similar duties. The only time we strictly operate together is during vertical ventilation or during vent enter search. The ladders firefighter will be laddering above grade windows, removing window bars, forcing the c-side door for egress, and performing a horizontal vent when needed.

This gives you a general idea of how that seat works for us and why this position carries a certain tool compliment. When I am riding Ladders I carry a Pig in my belt, with a 6’hook married to a Halligan. The tool in my belt along with the Halligan married to the 6′ hook allows for maximum efficiency because I still have a free hand to bring ladders to the building each time I walk to the truck. I think it is poor practice as an outside vent firefighter to only carry a hook and then have to return to the truck for a Halligan to force the c-side door or remove stubborn window bars. Both which are critical duties that should be accomplished in the first few minutes of our members operating interior.

Here’s the solution for us, and by no means did I invent this. Companies all over the country have been utilizing chain links to marry their hook and Halligan long before I was even in the fire service. I  get a lot of questions and emails about this concept and hope I can make a few peoples jobs a little easier.

It’s a simple fix and we have used it on several hooks for many years. By welding a chain link at the appropriate height on the hook it allows you to put the forks of the Halligan over the chain link, then squeeze the tools and slam the base of the hook on the ground. It will cause the forks to bite into the chain link and creates a very tight bond with the tools.

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This creates a very easy one hand carry of the tools and reduces hand fatigue. If you currently don’t have these tools married you know that you have to keep a tight grip on them and it is not uncommon for the tools to separate half way to your target. This will be eliminated with the chain link. The bond is tight enough that once you get to your location you very rarely can pull them apart by hand. If I am on concrete or asphalt I will just throw the tools on the ground while I throw my ladder. The impact on the ground will separate them. The other option is to flip them upside down like the photo below and bump the head of the roof hook on hard ground or against the foundation of the house, etc. This will also easily separate them.


There is no set measurement for the chain link that I can give you. This article is obviously on a Pro Bar, but it is going to vary by the brand of Halligan. There are Halligans out there that this will not work with. If you are using a Pro Bar there is some variances on this measurement based on the age of the Pro Bar. I like to make this chain so that all of them will marry up regardless of age.

To get your spacing right, marry up the Halligan with the hook in one hand and slide your chain link in between the forks with the other hand. If the Halligan is pulled down flush to the hook now is the time to give it some space. Your goal is to leave some space between the bottom of the adze where it will touch the top of the hook. The picture below is taken with the Halligan just lightly sitting on the top of the chain. If you leave about a 1/2 inch where that dirty fat finger is, you will end up with enough room to give a nice solid bite on the chain link when you slam the base on the ground.


If you don’t leave enough space the Halligan will bounce off the top of the hook before you ever get a bite. If you are unsure of this, lean towards a little too much space rather than too little. Too much space will still marry the tools together when you bite the chain, even if there is a left over space between the tools. Too little will cause the Halligan to bounce off the hook before it sets properly.


The picture above is after the tool has been slammed on the ground and the Halligan bites the chain. You can see the nice tight fit between the tool heads. Once you find the spacing for your Halligan, make a mark on the chain link and a mark on the roof hook.


Once you have your mark, just use a small tack weld to hold the link to the hook, now put the Halligan back on and just dry fit your mark. Don’t slam the tool down, but see if you like your spacing. If it looks good, run a bead and call it good. I have never had one of these links fail or cause the hook to weaken or bend in any way, shape or form.


Now you have yourself a set of combat ready outside vent tools. I slide mine in the slot at the bottom left of this ladder compartment, they’re married together and pull out very clean and quick. I pull my tools, then select my ladder and I am ready to move within seconds (no extra fumbling around or assembly required!)




Fine Tuning Your Halligan


                           By R. Royal

 The Halligan (Pro Bar)  is hands down the most important and versatile forcible entry tool we carry on the rigs. We have had a few different articles on this website regarding the Halligan, some about the differences between the Pro Bar and its imitations, also understanding the advantages of bevel to the jamb, versus bevel to the door during inward swinging forcible entry operations. This next article is to discuss a few little modifications that can be done that make this tool even more superior.  

The first two improvements just assist you in seeing what you should be feeling when setting the tool. What we have done as seen in the pictures below is scratch a small thin line and add some drops of red paint to show our proper depths when setting the tool. After enough practice with the tool, setting to the proper depth should come  just by feel, but adding these marks just makes it that much easier.

The first mark we have added is on the Adze end. This mark has been scratched in at about 1 3/4. This is the standard width of commonly found doors, by making this mark it will assist us in knowing when the adze is about to hit the jamb on outward swinging doors. This can assist us in navigating the Adze around the back of the door and not tearing into the jamb. It also can prevent us from stopping to shallow and then tearing the skin and seam of the door when we start to make our gap.

The second mark is made on the fork end and is used for inward swinging doors.  This mark has been made to show where the “crotch” of the fork is. As you can see in the picture the crotch is where the two forks come together and meet. We want to make our marks on both sides lining up with the crotch of the fork. This landmark comes from the term “crotch to stop”. Basically our tool is set to the proper depth when this “crotch” or red mark has lined up near the back of the door stop or jamb. This can be very helpful to prevent you from stopping to shallow, or going to deep when the Halligan is being driven in very quickly. If we drive it in to far we lose a large amount of leverage when we go to force. When it is stopped to shallow, it becomes very easy for the forks to slip out when you force the bar. Again this just makes it a little easier to see, and is a very big aid in teaching the concepts of crotch to stop.

The next two pictures below show what should be  necessary maintenance to the tool. The next step is a very slight change but goes a real long way. I think this is the number one improvement you can make to this tool. This may be difficult to explain through writing, but we will give it a shot. When the Halligan comes from the factory the ends of the fork will have a bevel to it. It is a dull bevel and is in the center, on the tip of these forks. What we have done is filed down the ends of these forks slightly, thinning them and giving the tips more of an edge. Instead of having the dull bevel in the middle of the tips, they come to a clean edge on the inside of the bevel.  This makes a huge difference on inward swinging doors that are set very tight to the jamb. It will make enough difference that the clean edge will probably bite and start to navigate around the door whereas the old bevel may tend to bounce off many times.

Lastly we have the squared shoulders of the fork. When the bar comes from the factory it has a small curve from the handle into the forks. What you can do is file down the curve into a nice right angle like you see here. This has created a new striking surface that we can use when alternate techniques are required. Such as tight hallways or cellar entrances, low visibility, or when there is only ne firefighter available to start forcible entry,  this small change allows that to happen. This will enables one guy to effectively get started doing both the striking and the Halligan work on a door (which we will hit on a later date).

You can find numerous different improvements out there that have been done to these tools, we feel these are the most advantageous for what we do and really can make a difference in how they perform. Like many other articles on here, again we say we didn’t invent this stuff, just feel it is worthy information that should be passed on to those who wish to use it.

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