How to Force Entry on Commercial Doors

Here’s the scene: You arrive late at night at a single-story strip mall with reinforced masonry walls, open web steel joist and no sprinkler system. There’s smoke and fire showing through the large front windows. The battalion chief’s strategy is to get inside (offensive) and knock this down ASAP. The rear door (side C) is used mostly for deliveries during business hours and is locked at other times—like now. You know from your inspections that the door is equipped with a panic bar, even though there are no hardware clues (e.g., bolt heads) on the outside. Your assignment is to get this door open to provide horizontal ventilation as well as an alternate means of escape for crews.

There are several conventional ways to force this door open: 1) prying the latch out of the frame; 2) cutting it down with a rotary saw and metal-cutting blade; and 3) taking/cutting the hinges. But what about other methods that aren’t quite so conventional? Here, I’ll address how the panic bar can be used to force entry as well as simple solutions for other common commercial entry challenges.How to Force Entry on Commercial Doors

An Unconventional Method: Find the Panic Bar (See Disengage the Panic Bar slideshow)
Lately, my department has been taking advantage of all the area business closures by experimenting on different ways to force these doors using only a Halligan and flat-head ax. Our approach starts with the panic bar. You want to pierce the door a few inches above the panic bar. We know that the bar itself is about 40 to 42 inches up from the bottom of the door (or in the middle of the door). For me, this is about waist high, so I use this as a landmark to get me close.

The next issue: how to make a hole in the steel door to get the Halligan through. You can drive the forks through by hammering the Halligan bar. If you chose this approach, start the forks on their corner to easily establish a purchase point. Another way to start an insertion point is to drive the spike in and then switch over to the forks. These techniques work and you should try them, but also try the method depicted in the accompanying slideshow—it is much faster and easier.

Specifically, strike the door with the blade of the ax. It will go through one (if not both) layers quickly and easily. If it does not get through both layers, strike the ax with the Halligan. Once the opening is made, insert the Halligan in the hole and drive it through to the other side. Once the Halligan is inserted a couple of inches past the forks, push up and then pull the door outward to open it. The forks should catch the bar and disengage the latches.

Commercial Door Hinges (See Overcome Commercial Door Hinges slideshow)
Hinges can also be overcome with hand tools. When struck with a sledge hammer or flathead ax, the hardened steel hinge will perform like a cold chisel against the screws holding up the door. The hinge will shear off the heads of the screws, allowing the door to be opened. Note: Strike all the hinges—high, middle and low.

Aluminum/Glass Store-Front Doors (See Forcing Aluminum/Glass Store-Front Doors slideshow)
Aluminum and glass store-front doors can be a formidable challenge, unless you know a little about how they’re installed. Most of these doors use either a spring-loaded hinge pin or a continuous hinge. Doors that use the spring-loaded hinge pin assembly (usually at the very top and bottom of the door) offer us an easy and simple method of entry.

Place your Halligan at the bottom of the door (hinge side) and lift up. The spring-loaded pin will catch and depress itself, allowing the door to fall open from the hinge side. You’ll have to negotiate the latch, but it will open enough to get the operation started. Be sure to secure this door back by tying it off; in other words, make sure it doesn’t clamp your hose or get in the way of a hasty retreat.

Final Thoughts – How to Force Entry on Commercial Doors
Combine your knowledge of building/door construction, conventional forcible entry, through-the-lock entry, and power tool applications to ensure that there’s nothing stopping you from getting to the fire. Proficiency with hand tools, some imagination and knowing how buildings work will get you through most any forcible-entry challenge.

 

Our Business Philosophy

At DOORS REPAIR TORONTO SPECIALTIES,LLC our philosophy is that honesty and reliability lead to success. We are dedicated to providing each and every one of our clients with friendly, personalized service.

Contact us in Toronto, Ontario, for more information regarding our enormous selection of commercial doors.

Repairs & Installations for Commercial Doors in Toronto, Mississauga, Burlington, Hamilton and the GTA area.

DOORS REPAIR TORONTO, LLC provides a variety of services for your construction needs and will match any competitor’s offer.