Truck Company Tools: The Pike Pole


Michael M. Dugan December 17, 2007

“The six-foot hook is often used for search operations. A second tool should be carried, should breaching or breaking become necessary. Photo by Michael M. Dugan

The hook, or pike pole is one of the primary tools that has been used by truck company firefighters for years. This tool has under gone some transformation, but is mainly the same tool it was 30 or 40 years ago. This tool should be brought into every fire building today. Pike poles have many uses and many types are available.”

Six-Foot Wooden Handle Hook
The first type of hook is a wooden handled six-foot hook. This tool is a standard style and performs the functions required to open up walls and ceilings very well. The tool will also allow you to use it for a search aid and close the door to a fire room without unduly exposing the firefighter to injury. Firefighters have broken these tools, and without knowing it, they have placed the tool back on the apparatus. The next firefighter removing the tool from the apparatus has a broken tool and does not know that. When the tool is most needed is when the break is going to become evident and might impact the safety of the firefighter or a person on their search team.

If you bring a wooden hook then you or your search partner must bring a striking tool with you. That would be an axe or a Halligan, most likely. If you become trapped and need a tool to help remove yourself from danger, there is a possibility that the hook will break and if you do not have another tool then you are in real trouble.”

The hooks should be configured to meet the department’s needs on the fireground and be able to accomplish as many tasks as possible at the scene of a working fire. The hook should be able to perform more than one task on the fire scene. The more functions a tool can perform, the less that has to be carried by the firefighters and officers.”

Mitch: Once again from this article I hear the clear overarching cry for reliability and versatility in firefighter tools. When all you carry is all you have to fight fire, as is the case with engine crews arriving first on scene, the more functions a tool can perform reliably and well, the fewer tools need to be carried. This is of particular concern due to the weight that already must be carried in protective gear alone. Material plays a huge role in performance as seen by failures of traditional wooden handles which are largely being phased out for fiberglass and all metal construction depending on department/firefighter preference. Also the longer the pike pole is the more susceptible it is to critical failure, especially in the case of wood being a natural material it is not homogenous in it’s construction and therefore the longer the section of wood the more opportunities for internal flaws to be exploited by the greater leverage and resultant forces involved.