A full-time fireman experiences life as a repeating series of quick bursts of excitement followed by long periods of inactivity. As a result, even the busiest firefighter will inevitably run out of things to do and end up thinking about some of the more important stuff. It's usually got something to do with family or the fickle nature of life and death. A career staked around tossing yourself into an inferno on a regular basis has a natural tendency to foment a general atmosphere of introspection. However, despite all the (usually justified) angst, there's always one guy who spends his time obsessing over that single, overbearing problem in his life. Unlike those of his peers, his problem isn't related to his girlfriend, his children, or even the fact that his diet is 90% Chinese take-out. It's much simpler than that. The problem is figuring out just how to best to break through the next locked door.

It's that kind of single-minded dedication that created the Halligan bar.

Invented by and named after New York City fire chief Hugh Halligan in 1947, the Halligan bar's unique brand of badassary has earned it a ubiquitous presence in fire houses everywhere. It's a formidable piece of steel, usually about three feet long and looking more the part of a medieval weapon than a life-saving tool, but it has a talent for quickly demolishing doors, walls, and anything else that could possibly be in your way that has earned it a place in the upper echelons of fire fighting tools. This renowned status is the product of a brilliantly simple and practical design and a certain indestructible nature.

What makes the design of the Halligan so brilliant and beloved is that, unlike any of the dozen or so other devices that weigh a firefighter down in a blaze, the Halligan can be used in just about every forcible entry situation. It's essentially an everytool. Allow me to explain.

The bottom end of the Halligan is essentially identical to the prying "claw" end of a crowbar, albeit usually larger and sharper. Logically, it can be used for the same purpose or, with the aid of a K-tool, to rip a lock cylinder directly from a door. This is assuming you don't have cause for destroying the entire door.

If you really do need to raze something to the ground though, you're in luck. You need only look to the other end of the bar. The "head" of a Halligan looks as though its creator drew inspiration from a glance into the garage of a Klingon. It consists of a sharp adze blade on one side and, on the adjacent side of the head, a rather wicked pick. These bad boys are designed to rip and tear through doors and walls, usually in conjunction with an axe wielded in your other hand.

The second function of the lower half of the Halligan comes with exactly that scenario in mind. The area in the gap between the "claw" just happens to be large enough to comfortably fit the head of your average firefighter's axe. This means the handy pairing of the tools will always be close at hand, a convenience that can shave an extra second or two off of all-important response time.

As of this node's publication the Halligan has served 62 years in fire houses everywhere, saving countless lives in the process. Though little more than a well-designed club, a better tool than the Halligan for forcible entry has yet to be designed, though many have tried. Its continued preeminent position among the tools of fire fighters everywhere is a tribute to its designer's genius for practicality and a testament to how much good can be wrought from the destruction of other peoples' stuff.

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