Interior Door Removal

   Face it, the fire department is much more than fighting fires. We are the ones that get called when others simply don’t know what to do or who to call. Whether it’s the cat in the tree or a leaking tank. My department is often called to assist the ambulance. I must admit, I do enjoy these calls. They often present a challenge of moving a patient from a very difficult location. The challenge I would like to present as this month’s drill is gaining access to a victim that is continuous, injured, and unable to move that is blocking the entrance to a bathroom. 

   It is not uncommon to find a patient in the bathroom. This is where most of us go when we are not feeling well. There is also many slip, trip, and fall hazards in the bathroom. The physical layout of bathrooms is typically small. With all these things combined it is a recipe for disaster.  On a recent call we faced one of these challenges. The victim was hard against the inward swinging door. When the door was gently pushed in hopes of sliding the patient enough to gain access they instantly complained of pain. There was no exterior window either. Gaining patient access is now the priority to provide a complete assessment. 

   Since the door swings inward, there are no hinges to remove. One option is to go through a wall. This is not a good option since you do not know what is on the other side or in the wall. This would also result in a large repair. The option we chose was to remove the door and frame. This sounds very aggressive but actually resulted in a simple repair for the homeowner. We began by gently removing the trip around the door. We then used a Sawzall (reciprocating saw) to cut the screws that held the door jam in place. We were careful to not go deep enough to strike the patient on the inside or knock the interior door trim off. Once the jam attachment was cut, we simply leaned the door out of the opening. We placed it aside with the trim for the homeowner to have reinstalled. 

Training Objectives

   Upon completion, the department should be able to…

   • Identify potential challenges in gaining victim access in bathrooms.

   • Describe how pre-hung doors are installed.

   • Discuss other methods you could use to gain access.

   Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at



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Humboldt, IA 50548

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