to allow for the latch to clear from the strike plate. To carry out
the actual frame spread, two firefighters are needed (mostly
because the unit’s steel construction makes it quite heavy
when it is in place). Next, place the cylindrical base of the
hydraulic ram into the opening of the Frame Spreader until
the base of the hydraulic ram comes to rest on the edge of the
Frame Spreader. At this point, with the Frame Spreader and
hydraulic ram being essentially one unit, lift the unit up and
hold it horizontally, and set the unit just above the lock set.
Ensure that the heel of the Frame Spreader is sitting flush and
even against one of the jambs.
Next, place the four-inch chock as level as possible against
the opposite door jamb. Once both firefighters are in position
and confident that the unit is securely set, one firefighter will
start to operate the hydraulic ram’s lever. Slowly pump the
hydraulic ram until the latch clears the strike plate (the number
of pumps needed will depend entirely on the width of the door
frame). At this point, the door should swing open. As with all
methods of forcible entry, control the door—you never know
who or what could be behind it.
After you have successfully opened the door, slowly release
the pressure of the hydraulic ram and ensure that both firefighters are ready to catch all objects and tools that are suspended;
when the pressure is released, these objects will fall to the
ground immediately. Remember, the hydraulic ram and Frame
Spreader are heavy.
Like any tool, the Frame Spreader has limitations. The door
you are spreading needs to have the right construction features
for the operation to be successful. The Frame Spreader is perfect
for doors set within wood-frame construction; wood-framed features give the door’s structure more flex, which allows the frame
to “bow out” and then return to its original dimension with little
to no damage. A door set in concrete block with a metal frame
could suffer significant damage.
It has been well documented that when applying just 138
pounds of force to the handle, the hydraulic ram can apply
more than 10,000 pounds of force. These measurements make
it possible to force a more fortified door such as one set in con-
crete. However, the tool’s purpose is to inflict as little damage
as possible. This means you must draw on your knowledge and
experience to dictate which doors are suitable for the tool’s use.
If you start your operation and feel that spreading the frame
to a certain point will cause significant damage to the door’s
structure, stop the operation and go to your plan B.
A second construction feature to consider is the number and
types of locks present on the door. The Frame Spreader is perfect
to use on a door that has a single key knob lock. With the throw
of the latch being rather short, it takes just a small spread of the
frame to clear the strike plate. If the door happens to also be
fitted with a deadbolt, the significantly longer throw of the bolt
will mandate that you spread the frame much further, potentially
causing significant damage. A third construction feature is an
inward-opening door. Inward-swinging doors do not have an
exposed/recessed frame to enable the tool to be set, preventing
the tool from being used.
There is no set science behind which construction features
must be present to use the Frame Spreader. Again, it is essential that you fall back on your knowledge and experience to
know when you can be successful with this tool; if it is properly deployed, you should gain entry while creating little or no
damage. If some damage to the door is sustained, it should be
minimal and require nothing more than a few trimmed nails
and a little paint. However, the homeowner will appreciate
( 4-6) The Frame Spreader and the hydraulic ram set in a 32-inch
door with a four- × four-inch piece of cribbing.