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What Is a Fire Axe?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A fire axe is a type of axe which has been designed specifically for the use of firefighters, and it includes several features which make it ideally suited to emergency services in general. The primary distinguishing feature of a fire axe is the head, which features a classic axe blade on one side, and a pointed pick on the other. Companies which specialize in selling supplies to emergency services personnel often carry these axes, and they can also be ordered directly from manufacturers.

A typical fire axe is mounted on a long haft which has often been treated to be fire resistant. The haft is attached to the head especially firmly, so that the head does not fly off at inopportune moments. Typically, the head of the axe is also painted in bright colors which make it easy to distinguish in conditions of low visibility, and the pick and head may be painted in different colors so that firefighters can be sure they are working with the right end.

The dual head design of the axe allows firefighters to carry one tool instead of two. Using an axe, they can cut down doors, quickly pry off trim and door jams, and lever away material like sheetrock and paneled ceiling tiles. Some axes are also designed to cut through electrical wires or to cut off gas, although these features may drive up the cost of the axe. Fire axes can also be used to quickly gain access to vehicles and perform other tasks which a fireman might need to do. The design of the axe is intended to promote safe, rapid, and efficient extrication of people and goods from fires.

Some construction workers, especially in demolition, also use fire axes. The rugged design of the axe makes it convenient for a wide range of applications, and some people also appreciate the company guarantees which often back the axes. These axes are also designed to be very lightweight, making them less of a strain to use, and they typically come with holsters designed to be clipped onto belts, complete with sturdy material which covers the blade of the axe and pick to prevent injuries.

As with any sort of bladed tool, a fire axe can potentially be dangerous if it is not handled properly. Firemen typically receive training in the use of an axe before they start their jobs, and they are expected to ensure that their equipment is in good working order so that it is ready for use in an emergency. In the case of a fire axe, an inspection typically checks to make sure that the head is secure, and that the blade is still sharp.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Drentel — On Feb 25, 2014

Animandel - I know what you mean about those fire axes being light. I have held one and swung one, too. They are light, but sturdy. They can go through doors and walls like a regular wood axe goes through logs when you are splitting wood.

By Animandel — On Feb 24, 2014

The local fire department will set up at carnivals and other community gatherings from time to time. The kids love seeing the fire engines most of all, I think. However, they also enjoy meeting the firemen and getting a close look at the fire equipment, especially the hats and the axes.

Kids are allowed to wear the hats, but axes are off limits for the most part. However, I did get the chance to pick one up and hold it. I was surprised at how light it was and the axe handle looked like a work of art more than a work tool. I actually thought it was a replica that the firemen used for showing people, but I was assured it was the same type they used during real fires.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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