Forced Entry: The Basics of Door and Gate Saws

There’s no denying that your best tool deployment comes from having a great tool setup. It is of the utmost importance that the irons are free of rust and that the Halligans are tuned, oiled and in a respectable place to grab them quickly at incident scenes.

What about rotary saws? How do you configure them? How many do you have on the rig? Are they in a respectable space, ready for rapid deployment?

All of these questions need to be explored when setting up your rig for the tactics you are meant to execute, and executing them quickly. In addition, it does not matter whether you use a gasoline or battery-powered saw. Three main factors play a role in saw basics and setup.

Recognition of need

As an organization/department or business, you must first understand the needs of your region and then base your tools on those needs. What do I mean by that? You need to understand the composition of your community. For example, the makeup of my ministry’s community is a wild mix of urban and suburban residential and commercial occupations. There isn’t one type of structure or challenge that my district presents the most.

Going to certain commercial areas, the likelihood that my teams will have to cut locks, garage doors, anti-theft devices and various types of metal and steel doors is high. That said, although my catchment area is a small urban city, it is not awash with rolling steel doors like New York and Washington DC. Nevertheless, we have to enter it periodically. Having the means to accomplish this and the other aforementioned cut is only possible by having a variety of tools. Sure, we could accomplish the task with a standard set of irons, but we could actually and efficiently get in much faster if we used a rotary saw set up for forcible entry tactics.

The set up

Much of our efficiency success comes from our setup on the platform. One of the things we have found to be very beneficial is having a good saw complement. Our special services consist of four saws for four types of common operations and different calls: two chainsaws and two rotary saws. One of the chainsaws is used for utility purposes, such as cutting tree branches and miscellaneous wood, and the other is used for vertical venting operations. One of the rotary saws features a carbide-tipped blade for wood and decking materials; the other has a diamond-tipped blade for cutting metals and masonry. The latter is the one we consider our break-in saw.

The break-in saw is the one that is mainly used for the metal challenges that we face on the street. On this we attach a pair of locking pliers, or Vise-Grips, and a chain to the handle. This allows the saw operator to quickly hand them over to another limb to attach to a latch for cutting while making access. (The alternative – the vise grip and chain being in a compartment on the platform – requires extra time for someone to retrieve them from the incident scene.) Also, with this setup, the vice grips and chain never interfere with operations. Some members find it beneficial to have their own pair of locking pliers in their pocket; however, lugging them around despite not using them every day, or even almost every day, isn’t worth it to me.

Comfort and familiarization

When using the rotary saw on the range, you must first understand how to use it on the practice range.

Once you’ve turned on a spinning saw and lifted it off the ground to collect your material, you’re fighting a gyroscopic force and you have to be ready for it. Many of you may remember the old gyroscope toy: the device that had a wheel that spun forward, then when you picked it up or moved it, the side of the toy would go left or right. This is the rotary saw in use. Once you pull the trigger, the blade spins forward, but when you pick up the saw to use it, the saw motor wants to take the saw left or right. Using a saw in front of you, to the side, or even above your head can tire you out due to the gyroscopic force you’re fighting. This is especially the case when working for a long time.

So always make sure your grip on the saw is firm and be ready for sideways movement once you pull the trigger.

Gate Tactics

When you arrive on the scene and decide to start cutting, there are a few things you need to consider from the start:

  • What’s the fastest way for you to get in? Through the lock or through the gate?
  • What will require fewer cuts?
  • What is the weakest point of the gate or door?
  • Once opened, will the entry point take you to where teams will be able to make a difference on the fire or get to it?

You can then execute your tactic. Two of the easiest tactics are sometimes the quickest options.

Generally, the easiest way will always be to go through the lock itself (depending on the type of lock). Going through the gate rail or channel is the next easiest option. Going through the gate itself is the last option.

Given the different constructions of doors, the best way to see how to beat the ones in your area and develop your game plan for entry is to go out and check out how they are constructed as well as the locking mechanisms that are activated. their.

Most gates have either an armored locking pin or a steel eyelet pin that passes through the gate track and into the metal slats. Most of the time you will find that the armored pin uses hockey puck type locks, while the eyebolt pin uses a style of lock that usually has an exposed shackle. With either style of lock, cutting the lock itself off the door pin offers the quickest approach.

Locks that have exposed shackles are relatively easier to deal with than the other two aforementioned locks. This is where your locking pliers and chain come in. Although this tactic requires two limbs to accomplish, the execution is quite simple. One member attaches the vice grip and chain to the lock body, and the other member comes with the saw and cuts the shackle. We have found it helpful to score the metal with the saw blade at low rpm, creating a nice groove for the blade to sit in. Once the blade has stabilized, you can speed up the saw, maximizing the RPM, to let the saw blade do its job and cut the shackle. Once the shackles(s) are cut, the lock can be removed and the pin can be exposed and removed.

With hockey puck style locks, the cut is made on the front/top of the lock, three-quarters the height of the keyhole. This ensures that you capture the pin on the back of the lock.

The old method of teaching encouraged cutting the padlock at the top of the padlock’s stamp or company name. Unfortunately, more and more locks have pads that end up upside down or even non-existent, leaving members wondering where to cut. So far three quarters of the keyhole height has been for all these different style locks.


Recognizing the need, setting up the saw, and understanding your tactics helps you become comfortable using the saw. However, as there are many types of saws on the market, it is crucial to be sure of the operation of your saw. Along the same lines, take the time to get out in your area to check out the break-in challenges presented to you. Trying to understand these challenges or the variables of these challenges in the heat of the moment delays the placement of the garden hose, and a delay in getting water to the fire only contributes to the advancement of the spread of fire. It all depends on how quickly and efficiently you can access.

Practicing cutting locks can be a simple, yet fun exercise that members can practice right at the station, for little to no cost, but building confidence with the saw is extremely valuable.

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