Gear Test: Meet the FUBAR Forcible Entry Tool: Firefighting Operations

Gear Test: Meet the FUBAR Forcible Entry Tool

I first saw the Stanley FUBAR Forcible Entry Tool while doing some hands-on training at a fire service conference. I couldn’t help but notice all the people traipsing by, holding a shiny, new, odd-looking tool. My first gut impressions: 1) This looked like a carpentry/demolition tool, and I may want one to keep with my personal tool cache at home; and 2) Stanley, an outsider to the fire world, was trying to muscle in on the Halligan’s turf, and I thought, “You’ll never do it.”

I was later contacted by the FireRescue staff and asked if I’d like to try one out. I accepted because I thought that if I was sent one and nobody ever asked for it back, I could add it to my construction tool assortment.

To get a little background information, I researched the acronymn FUBAR and initially came up with “Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.” This description didn’t exactly give me the best impression, so I did a little further searching and learned that, in this case, FUBAR actually stands for “Functional Utility Bar.”

Not long after I agreed to try out the tool, my doorbell rang and I was handed a nice package containing my new FUBAR. I lugged the package into work so I could get a group of truckies to open it with me in order to share the excitement. When we opened the box, a tool with a sparkling finish was revealed inside. Everyone took turns taking practice swings with the tool, simulating how they might use it.

The FUBAR is basically a demolition tool, which I put into the Halligan category, despite the many differences between the two. But let’s first examine some of their similarities. Like the Halligan, the FUBAR is 30 inches long, weighs about 9 lbs. and is one piece of forged steel.

At one end is a fork similar to the one found on a Halligan, as well as a nail puller and gas shut-off feature. On the other end is a spanner wrench, hydrant wrench and a jaw sized to fit over standard 2"-by-anything lumber. With this jaw I can twist, pry and split dimensional lumber. Just drop the jaw onto the lumber and push or pull on the opposite end. The tight-fitting jaw coupled with the 30-inch length provides a nice mechanical advantage via a lever for getting the job done. I can also use the jaw to fit over many residential doors, helping me pop them off of their hinges.

One of my other favorite features is the top part of the jaw. It’s flat, wide and smooth. The slightly rounded shape allows smooth prying very similar to the way an electrician’s conduit bender works. The duckbill can be swung into position behind brick molding, boards on boarded-up windows, trim, kitchen cabinets—the list goes on.

On the opposite side of the jaw is a formidable striking head. I use the flat part of a Halligan to strike, and it usually works quite well, but it isn’t as good as the flat side of a flathead axe, maul or splitting maul. The striking head on the FUBAR can really do some damage and get some work done. A crew from our Truck-7 took it into an abandoned concrete and block housing project and started pounding away. They breached some walls in no time.

The carabineer holes are nice for attaching a carrying strap, but I’ve also seen a leather holder for the tool that’s manufactured by Boston Leather (www.boston leather.com). I like tools attached to my waist when possible; they’re easy to get at. With a strap I have to worry about the tool sliding off my shoulder.

The reflective plastic handle is a little slippery when wet, so we gave this tool our standard taping job to improve friction (see “Get a Grip,” March 2007, p. 42).

The gas shut-off is OK, although we have other ways to shut off the gas, and one person is generally responsible for gas shut-off, so not everyone needs gas-shutting capabilities.

A couple things that trouble me about the FUBAR: It isn’t made in the United States, and it lacks an awl like a Halligan. I asked a representative about it, and I was told that Stanley wanted to offer an affordable tool to firefighters and that adding the awl would have added greatly to the price.

Admittedly, this isn’t a Halligan replacement, so maybe I can do without the awl. I was further told that making the tool in the United States would also have driven the price way up and that Stanley manufactures other products in the United States. An OK answer, but I would still like to see it made here, even if the price went up.

It’s hard to compare the price of the FUBAR with the prices of other tools because it isn’t like other tools. But if I had to compare the cost for the tool, it would play out like this: It costs about $150. A Halligan costs about $200. The TNT Denver tool costs about $200. A flathead axe costs about $100. The price is not usually the biggest issue when buying tools, but many departments wouldn’t issue a non-standard tool such as the FUBAR, meaning that firefighters would have to purchase the tool themselves, which does make the lower price attractive.

The fact that the FUBAR doesn’t really compare to any of the other hand tools that we currently use is kind of a prima facie case that there is a need for this tool and I certainly would want it included in my tool cache. As a matter of fact, when I tried getting it back from the truck company captain who I let test it out, he fought (and won) not to return it. Now it rides next to his seat, right alongside his Halligan.

Clarion UX