Growth Trends for Related Jobs

10 Uses for a Halligan Tool

careertrend article image

The Halligan bar or tool is named after Hugh Halligan, a 1948 New York City Fire Chief and is based on an earlier tool called a Kelly tool. The Halligan bar is an all purpose tool with different ends that adapt to multiple uses. The Halligan is a solid forged tool and a standard piece of equipment for any fire department worldwide.

Flat End

One flat part of the Halligan is the flat side of the adz, the other is the flat side of the tool. The flat end can be used similar to a hammer, to pound against a door that may not take much give to open, as a tool to remove tempered glass before entry to avoid injury, or even as a step. As a step the entire tool can be wedged between the building and ground at an angle, then used as step to gain entry over a window sill. The most common use of the flat side of the Halligan is to break windows. This is not just a smash job, a proper technique is used to break the glass then clear it i the most efficient way possible using the tool.


The fork of the Halligan can be used as a wedge, a forked lever, or even a punch tool. The forked end can be twisted into a padlock hinge and twisted to break it. The fork can also be placed beneath the hood in a car fire to shear off the upper latch of the hood release to break the hood open. The fork is used to wedge beneath and lift up roofing materials, to pry off sections of wood and to wedge between door and window frames to force them open for entry or ventilation. You can also drive the fork into the ground at the base of a ladder as a means of keeping the ladder from kicking out during use.


The adz is the flat part of the Halligan head. Because of it's flat thinner tip it is used often as a wedge to drive between tight materials then the bar is used as a lever to pry them up. The adz can be hammered behind plywood for instance then used to pry it off. The adz is also to gain entry in car fires or accidents when wedged between the door frame and twisted with pressure it can open an access point for pneumatic tools such as the cutter.


The awl is the pointed end of the Halligan tool. This may seem simple but it has a large number of uses. It can be swung or hammered into a surface to open it. It can be jammed between the door frame and an inward opening door, then the other end of the awl is pounded against until the awl pierces the door frame. The awl can push up floorboards to expose fire beneath them. The awl can be pushed between nearly every crevice that needs to be pried up due to it's pointed end. It also can be swung into a roof and once the awl is buried securely, the Halligan can be used as a support for a foothold on the roof.


Caprice Castano recently left the field of construction management to operate her own contracting business and spend time developing her writing career. Current projects include freelance writing for Internet publications and working on novel-length fiction.

Photo Credits