SANDPOINT — The door was glossy, black and heavy, but it won't stay pretty for long once local firefighters get a hold of it for a few sessions of forcible entry training.
Brandon Wolff, a senior at Sandpoint High School, recently finished fabricating the forcible entry door for Selkirk Fire, Rescue and EMS as a project in Jacob Stark's welding class this year.
"It was definitely a challenge of my skills and abilities," Wolff said.
After spending nearly the entire school year on the project, a few of the guys from Selkirk stopped by the school Tuesday to try it out. They grabbed the set of irons and as Britian Whitley, Selkirk captain EMT-A, hooked the Halligan bar into the door, Wolff put his project to the test as he struck the bar with the flat side of an axe until the door broke loose — about 45 seconds.
The firefighters gave Wolff the set of irons to keep as a memento and thank you for all his hard work on the project.
Selkirk Battalion Captain Kevin Amorebieta said the door will help build muscle-memory as the department will use it regularly to practice forcible entry techniques.
"This is basically a prop that allows us to practice making entry into a house or a commercial building that is locked," Amorebieta said. "We don't get to train in that very often."
Amorebieta said the Selkirk crew stole the idea from Northern Lakes Fire District in Kootenai County after it had one made by North Idaho College students. So he brought the idea to Stark's class and asked if Wolff would be interested in taking on the project. Amorebieta gave Wolff a packet containing the plans for the door, and the teen set to work.
Wolff went through the plans in detail, making extensive notes as he did so to determine everything he would need, such as what kind of metal and how much of it would be required to fabricate the door.
After Wolff determined the material he needed, he put in a bid on the job and Amorebieta said all he has to do now is submit the bill to Selkirk. A new forcible entry prop, if purchased from a website like TheFireStore.com, is more than $6,000, so the cost to Selkirk is much lower than purchasing a new prop since the department will only have to pay for materials.
"I'm hoping he enjoyed the project, which I'm sure he did," Amorebieta said. "We were probably down here every couple of weeks ... It was a fun project for us."
Wolff said he did enjoy the project, though he did run into some challenges.
The most difficult part, he said, was the plans he received showed a heavy duty metal door, but it was already put together.
"I had to fabricate one and it is not even close to how light that other one is," Wolff said.
The hard part was not fabricating the door itself, Wolff said, but because of its weight he had to alter the components supporting it as well.
Wolff was unsure exactly how much the entire prop weighed, but guessed it at about 550 pounds. It comes apart fairly easy so it can be moved around for training purposes.
"This is awesome," said Bernie Frechette, Selkirk engineer EMT-A. "I'm proud of him."
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.