Door Chocking

I know we’re called Firefighter Basics.  I was actually wondering if this subject was TOO basic to cover.  It’s not.  We went on a run the other day and the officer told the 5 year guy to chock the door.  The 5 year guy reaches up to his helmet and lo and behold the 2 chocks that he wears to balance out his helmet were missing.  He says “My chock is missing”.  The way he phrased it made it seem like it’s not his fault made my mouth drop.  (He didn’t say “I don’t have one.”). The second reason I stared at him like he was and idiot was because we were in a crappy building with litter, debris and CRAP everywhere.  I carry a chock block and have only used it once, to help pop a car door, I only have one chock and I know it’ll magically disappear if I use it somewhere.  So here is a quick primer on “chocking” that door. 

Remember; the Fire Service is goal oriented.  When we do a job there is a mission to accomplish and steps that need to happen along the way.  What are the goals of chocking the door? 

  1. We can get out easily if needed, no locked doors behind us.
  2. Others can get to our location easily, no locked doors in front of our back-up.
  3. Cause no damage or as little as possible if appropriate.
  4. Walk out with all of our equipment.

There are 2 basic ways to chock the door, the first is so its wide open with unobstructed access, and the second is to prevent it from securing.  Preventing the door from securing is usually pretty simple; obstruct the frame, wrap the latching hardware or some sort of complex remove the cylinder process (I’m not a fan).  Preventing the door from securing is the most reliable, the door will usually hold these things in place, they may fall out the first time the door is used but that may be all that is needed.  Propping the door wide open is actually more complicated because whatever you use has to be heavy enough or wedged in adequately to hold the door open reliably

Honestly the highest demand for propping a door open is on the routine medical calls where the apparatus arrives before the ambulance.  An example is a semi-secure building with a desk guy or a buzz to enter building.  The goal is to allow the door to be opened without someone there.  All of these will work and I prefer to use a magazine or flyer of some type at these places.

Everyone loves to talk about chocking a door at a fire. “Door control is paramount” true, but at a legit fire I don’t give a shit about the door, put the Adz end of the halligan behind the hinges and pop the bottom ones free, the door will shift and sit on the ground.  If you need to shut it the top hinge is still in place and the door can be closed if needed.  Understand I’m not talking about forced entry here.

Stay safe

At a tech rescue call where all the other options to chock the door were more of a problem.

Cord, rope or inner tube with 2 holes wrapped around door knobs.

Rug, Mat or some item of clothing thrown over the door.

Old reliable

Floor mat, Magazine, Newspaper under/opening side of the door

Floor mat, Magazine, Newspaper Hinge side of the door

Trash can, furniture, Flower pot as a chock on an open door or agaist the frame.

Some purchased hinge hanger, could also us a wooden Dowel 3/4"X3" with a bent nail for this.

The inverse old reliable, watch out, it falls, but it has it's application.


  • Benny Clark says:

    All good points. I like to chock the door about half-way up, near the middle hinge. If conditions deteriate, I am not exposing myself to remove the chock. Also remember, open doors are either an “intake” opening for fresh air(good and bad depending where the fire is) or an “exhaust” point for fire and fire gasses. Just think before you haphazardly chock open doors.

  • Training38 says:

    I stole an idea from a Captain in New Jersey. He uses 2″ spring clamps that you buy from a hardware store. You can attach them to the bottom of your structural coat just to the right of the closure flap. They are strong enough to stay in place. They will pull away in the event of an entanglement hazard. I carry two and they work extremely well. I have also practiced with them through a breach wall prop and the clamps pull off by themselves. $4 total, reliable, reusable and at the ready. Just my two cents.

  • Nate Q. says:

    Great explanation of the objectives of chocking, and examples of using what you have at hand.

    I’m still a fan of “old reliable”…cheap, replaceable, and they work. Carry one on the lid, two in my jacket, and several more in a tool puch on the rig. If you use a bench grinder to make a notch on two sides, you can put it over a hinge or twist between the door & jamb and it won’t fall out and is easy to remove quickly (a tip I picked up in FE mag).

    I also carry several 10d nails. They work great in wood doors and will bend out of the way if you need to quickly slam a door shut.

  • Donovan says:

    I’m going to have to look into those spring clamps. Nate, I’d like to see a picture of those nails in operation, and I swipe the notched chocks every chance I get.
    I feel naked without a chock block, but I HATE to use it. I always feel that if I use my chock somewhere I’ll never get it back, and we’ve been together for a few years.
    Thanks for the comments.

  • Nate Q. says:

    Donovan, here’s some photos of the notched chock and nails.

    I use these as my go-to’s, due to past experiences at a condo complex in my first due, where residents often remove whatever improvised chock we’ve put used to keep the gates/doors open for the ambo crew (“Now who would put a doormat here? This door should be closed!”). Over time, I’ve found that the general public has a much harder time figuring out how to remove the notched chock, or even see the nails, and are usually found still staring at the gate confused when we make our way out. It also gives us an opportunity to educate them on why we chocked it open in the first place. Anyway, just my $0.04.

  • Donovan says:

    Nate, love the pics. That Chock chock looks huge, but I like the idea. I can see the resident door/security Nazi at an apartment building staring at that thing trying to figure it out. Going to try that and the spring clamps in the near future.

  • Lance C. Peeples says:

    I’m with Nate Q on this one. The notched wedges can be inserted on the highest hinge if not in the immediate fire area….(This prevents unnecessary bending for old men like me.)or over the bottom hinge if in the fire area. (This allows them to be pulled out rapidly if a retreat is necessary.) As for the number to carry: 1. Secured lobby door 2. Stairwell door in lobby. 3. Stairwell door on fire floor. 4. Fire apartment door. The wood chocks can also be used to hold a purchase point when forcing tough doors. I too have often found that the improvided door stops are often removed by tenants. Stay safe Brothers.

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