Fire Axes

Nov 23, 1998
What are the design features that are unique to a fire fighting axe? Are there special models i.e. combination hole/axe for forest fires and something different for an urban environment? What does it do well?

Does anyone know where I can get one and the cost?

There are more than a few public safety companies out there that you can order all sorts of equipment from. Gall's Inc sells EMT, Fire, and LEO gear, as does Darley's (I think that's what they are called).

Do a websearch on policy supply, fire supply, entry tools, and that sort of thing and you should be able to find them. I'll look and see if I still have any of my catalogs so that I can give you an 800 number.


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

Insert witty quip here
Galls can be reached at (800) 477-7766, or on the web at .

Heck, I've even found fire axes in McMaster-Carr (330) 995-5500 for the Cleveland warehouse.

I'd love to get my hands on a Darley's catalog, any info on them?

Don LeHue

The first sign of poor craftsmanship is wrinkles in the duct tape.

In my experiance as a former fire fighter there are two main types of axes used. The first being the flat-head and the second being the pick-head. The handles of the axes are ususally wood or fiberglass. The fiberglass is heavier, but less maintenance. The head of a fire axe should NOT be painted because of the difficulty that causes in inspecting for cracks or other problems. The pick-axe is more dangerous to the person using it because it has the pick sticking out the back of the head and in tight quarters it is possible to hit yourself with it, as well as when carrying(possible to fall onto the pick). The axe is used in searching for people in building as well as cutting. For this the handle is used to help feel around for victims. Well I hope this sort of added to the information you were looking for. If I can offer any more info. just ask.
Thanks for the information Falcan. I checked out MacMaster-Carr they have a fire axe with a small spike. Also Marion, I checked out a forestry catalog the fire axes there have a grub hole which appears to be what you describe.

A few more questions.

Is the flat headed ax a high quality wood axe.?

What would the weight be on these axes?

Are the larger pick head axes safer than the shorter ones (less chance of hitting oneself)?

How useful is the pick? Is it really more trouble than it is worth?

The blades of the axes used in the fire service are not usually kept as sharp as some that you might use if you were really going to cut down a tree or something. The fear being that in use it will strike a nail or other metal object and break a fragil edge. The other thing is that they are not sharpened often enough to be kept sharp, mainly that is the fault of lazy fire fighters. The pick on the head of the pick-head axe is usefull for realativly few things. It is for piercing stuff. It can be used to help pry up floor boards, or off siding from the outside walls of a building. The flat-head axe is able to be used as a 'hammer' as well as an axe. Hatchets are used some of the times, they often have neat little holster things, but really few people use them, I have only ever seen one.
The axes that we had were about the weight of a regular axe, but of course the fiberglass ones weighed alot more.
I did not mention earlier that the fiberglass does not conduct electricity. And as you could guess the axe gets used as a prying tool which can cause the handle to break, the fiberglass does not break as often.
Ok for my personal preferance I would choice the combination of a flat-head axe and Halligan Tool (This has a flat pick and a pointy pick on one end and a flattish claw on the other, it is very heavy as it is solid metal and almost as long as an axe) If I can find a good picture of a halligan tool I will post it on here if you want me to. But with this combination you sort of get the most versitile group of tools for forcible entry, search and rescue, and salvage. Though I am sure if you ask other people you will get other answeres.

For forest fires axes are not the most usefull tools. Chain saws work alot quicker and easier. And shouvels, rakes and the such are used more often. So I would say that most axes are used for structure fires, rather than brush or forest fires.
Ok, I have lost track of what I have answered and what I have not, so if I missed something you'll just have to ask again. My brain is just not working as fast as it usually does.