I was recently asked to evaluate an entry tool that was taking the fire industry by storm the W Tool. The tool can do many things, but has been touted for its ability to open a door without causing damage and without audible detection. The Weddle Tool Co. describes the tool as a manually operated hydraulic rescue tool designed for multiple types of public safety operations.
I'd describe the tool as an adjustable bottle jack on steroids. Although the 6,000-lb. hydraulic device seems designed primarily for firefighters, there are two specific areas in which the tool can be invaluable for the law enforcement community:
Through the Paces
I took the tool to a local resort that was under construction and went to town. After a few minutes of product orientation, I was popping doors open like a pro. I opened entry doors, bathroom doors any door that opened inward. Next, I opened electrical maintenance rooms, broom closets and the main office doors. The wood framed doors were very easy to open, and, with the exception of some pops and groans from the frame, they were also quiet.
The steel framed doors didn't cooperate as well, but I was able to open every one. I was amazed at how ineffective a standard lock and deadbolt were. The downside: The W Tool left a dent on both sides of the metal door jam.
Two days after the resort testing I received a radio call to check on the welfare of an elderly female who hadn t called her son in several days. My officers contacted the reporting party, her son, who asked us to force entry into the residence. Every window was pinned, and there was also a wood dowel in the window track. One of my officers was about to break a window near the front door when I remembered the W Tool in my trunk. When I walked up, the officers thought I was going to ram the door (the tool can be used as a battering ram and has a carry sling that can be used as a pivot point when striking the door). I explained that the tool could do the job, and, less than 90 seconds later, the door swung open with no visible damage to the structure. The resident had taken a bus trip to Las Vegas and forgotten to let her son know she was going to be gone. We d done our job without upsetting a resident or our risk management division.
The W Tool retails for just under $1,400. I don t know what the replacement cost is for a double paned widow or a splintered door frame. I do know, however, that if I were the point man on a stealth entry, I wouldn t care about the cost.
The W Tool
Greg White has 18 years of law enforcement experience. He is a SWAT team leader and a sniper team sergeant.