The Definitive Guide to Firefighter Pike Poles

firefighter equipment on wall


As firefighters, we’d be lost without our trusted pike poles.

Helping us locate lodged items from intense heat or search for hidden fires behind walls and structures, you just don’t know what you’re going to get when using one of these tools.

There is quite a bit of scattered information on the web regarding this tool, so to help guide you, we’ve put together all you need to know right here.

What Is A Pike Pole?

old pike pole


A Pike Pole is considered one of the most versatile tools a firefighter can have.

Measuring between 4-12ft, it’s a long pole most commonly used during firefighting to search for fires hidden behind ceilings and walls, as well as ventilating structures by breaking windows and pulling items from intense flames and heat.

Firefighter PPE such as the helmet, pants, coat, boots, gloves, axe can exceed up to 75 lbs so having a tool that can accomplish multiple tasks is vital.

Ventilate

Ventilation is an important structural firefighting tactic that involves smoke and heat being expulsed from a burning building. Firefighters are able to find trapped individuals with greater safety and ease. By using a pike pole, firefighters can quickly break windows or structures to initiate ventilation.


Uncover Hidden Fires

Not only can firefighting pike poles be used for ventilation, but they are also beneficial when it comes to uncovering hidden fires as well. When doors are shut, there’s no telling what is behind it. The same goes for closed-off structures within any sort of burning building. Using a pike pole is a good way of checking whether there is a fire behind the areas you can’t see.


Types of Pike Poles


Stainless Steel

Steel Pike Pole


While the majority of pike poles on the market are made from fiberglass, we have discovered that stainless steel surpasses all the other options.

Unlike other models, this version is not only incredibly strong, it has a patent-pending “Hammer Action” that allows the firefighter to multiply the force generated by hammering the bladehead through the ceiling. Firefighters can use this tool in zero visibility and not have to locate a ceiling fixture to push through.


Wooden Handle, Fiberglass Handle and Aluminum Handle

Pike pole handle material types
(wooden, fiberglass, aluminum)


Wooden handles, fiberglass and aluminum and some of the more common pike poles you’ll see.

And while these will also get the job done, you may be looking at an older design that has not been modernized to keep up with the times.

Wooden pike poles can easily break under stress while fiberglass, although stronger, can get very brittle in colder weather depending on where you’re at.


Pike Pole Usage


4 Crucial Steps

Remember that having a solid understanding of how and where to use this tool will bring it to its full potential.

Watch the video instructions along with the summary notes below.


Remember that having a solid understanding of how and where to use this tool will bring it to its full potential.

1. Locate Access Point

Before taking the pike pole to the ceiling during an interior/aggressive attack, your crew needs to determine the best access point in the ceiling.

The ceiling fan is usually a good entry point.

However, this can be difficult in low visibility scenarios, and sometimes you need to go in blindly.

However with this particular model, the G2, firefighters can use it in zero visibility without having to locate the ceiling fan or a light fixture in a smoky fire scene.

2. Confirm Any Hazardous Objects

If you need to pull down parts of the ceiling during a fire rescue, it’s best to know what’s directly above it.

Ideally, an interior attack will be coordinated with a topside ventilation.

If done this way, the topside team can hopefully tell if there are any large or hazardous items that may fall onto the interior team.

3. Establish and Break through Purchase Point

After the interior team is alerted, the firefighter can initiate the effort to break through the ceiling and establish a purchase point.

This is often the most strenuous step.

It’s unlikely you’ll break through anything on the first thrust.

Sticking the pike pole to the board is one thing, but being able to weaken the same spot over and over again is the real challenge.

Shiplap ceilings have become increasingly popular over the years but it’s also incredibly frustrating to pull down during a fire.

Standard pike poles and fire hooks are simply not built to handle these types of building materials.

4. Turn Pike Pole Head, Pull, Get Out of the Way

Once you break through the ceiling, make a quarter turn of the head and start yanking down.

You can pull down the pole in front of you at an angle.

If you don’t do this, the entire ceiling or other objects could end up falling on top of your head, and this is the last thing you want in the middle of a rescue mission!


The History of Pike Poles


Considered one of the most versatile and essential tools for firefighters today, the pike pole has had a long history.


Early to Late Modern History (1500-1945)

We can trace back the earliest resemblance of today’s pike poles and hooks to approximately the 12th century in Europe. However, they were used back then as weapons for soldiers. It was not until the 1600s that the modern-type of firefighter pike pole was created.

It was used to demolish businesses and homes for the purpose of creating fire breaks to stop the large conflagrations that would sweep through the cities on a routine basis.

Big rings of metal were attached to the building’s exterior walls so that these extended pike poles could latch onto them and tear them down.

At the time, water delivery methods and fire pumps did not exist, so this was relied on as the only successful method of preventing fire spread.


Contemporary History (1945-Today)

When compared with firefighting pike poles from the years gone by, the fire service hooks of today are quite young.

The roof hook, from New York, was created by FDNY Deputy Chief Hugh back in the 1950s.

There have been a number of other hooks that have been created and are specific to certain cities, for example, the San Francisco Hook, Boston rake, Denver Hook, and Chicago Hook were all created within the same century.

These were very popular tools for firefighters during that era and has served as a base point for all the subsequent improvements that have been made on the pike pole since then.

The variations of firefighting pike poles were created to successfully tear apart the sort of building construction that was encountered on a routine basis by firefighters, for instance, tongue and groove or lath and plaster.


Conclusion


With so many options, choosing the right pike pole can be a daunting task.

Firefighting is a dangerous line of work and you’ll want to make sure that you have the best possible tool by your side during a fire outbreak.

Designed by a Dallas firefighter with over 20 years of experience on the job, the G2 Pike Pole has been field tested and proven to withstand the rigorous demands of the fireground.