May 6, 2010
I remember meeting DC Halligan when i was a kid & my Dad was in LAD*43 & DIV*4 was next door w/ENG*91....i also remember Chief Halligan selling his tools to some BKLYN Companies in the early '60s.....he would not make the whole subway trip but rather would arrange a meet at a halfway point bringing the tools where a FF would meet him & pay for the tools w/commisary $$..... all done on the subway platform .......His tools were one of the best improvements to our arsenal & on a par w/the introduction of the Partner Saw introduced in the mid '60s.......but the Halligan concepts are used on a more regular basis than the saw.........the original H. tool was slightly smaller than the current pro-bar & some also had grooves on the inside portion of the horn/spike.....the reason was to give a better grip if prying up wet decking at a pier fire.....this was phased out later ....also the originals had fork ends that married up for more leverage.....for example lets say you had the adz in place but the door was not giving.....you could lock the fork of a 2nd H. tool into the fork of the 1st & have more FFs on both tools producing more leverage due to doubling the length.........many other tool companies still attempt to copy the tool.....i think the current "Pro Bar" model does the job well today.....his original H. Hook was all metal & had his signature on side of the head......the bottom of the shaft just ended like a pipe....no knob / chisel end /or handle .....as w/his FE tool ...once the pattern expired many knockoffs appeared....in my opinion the present composite handled ones are crap they do not have the beef behind them for tasks like taking out window cross pieces etc......the addition of a chisel end on a steel handle hook is good functional edition.......when i went to LAD*108 in '68 we had an original Halligan Hook this was the only tool the Roofman carried & was more than sufficient to accomplish the task......we did have 1 of the 1st Partner saws issued to a Truck but this was not taken initially by the Roofman......we also had an original Halligan FE tool which was carried w/an axe by the Irons man....we had a Kelly tool that the Chauf brought into the projects as a second iron if need be.....later we acquired a homemade version of Halligans model which was used by the Floor Above Team during the adaptive response hrs......during the non AR hrs the 2nd Roofman carried the homeade version.....later we got a 2nd Halligan Hook which was the Tillerman/OVs only tool carried.......years later some 10 Ft versions of the Metal handled H. hook appeared these were excellent also....we had one mounted near the tip of the aerial & it could be used on the roof for venting top floor windows & especially for pulling roof cuts when you had heavy Fire coming out....it let you be back a few more feet when pulling & or getting a 2nd FF on it for more pull on a tough roof covering........Chief Halligan made a great contribution to the Fire Service.....even though he never got rich in $$ he is rich in our History.....Thank You Chief H. Halligan.

Mar 3, 2007
its use is limited only by the imagination of the person using it.

On my first house fire in the great state of Texas, using the Halligan clearly identified me to my fellow firefighters as a yankee, because as one of the native sons said "you yankees love that tool"
Jun 22, 2007
I remember reading about Chief Halligan and his new tool in Fire Engeering Magazine. And the FDNY has lead the way on many of its uses. From forcing a door to using it as a step to reach a higher point on maybe a buckhead.


Aug 8, 2009
Fireman Halligan and brother, PO Halligan - 1916
(1st assignment E 88)



Deputy Chief Halligan WNYF article - How to Use Halligan Tool - 1950:

Chief Halligan was quite religious. He engraved tools with AM+DG, a Latin acronym for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam or ?for the greater glory of God.? (a favorite of St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Boston Fire Department 1st department to be able to equip all truck companies with Halligan. FDNY lawyers were originally concerned that there would be a "conflict of interests" because a member of the departrment designed the tool. FDNY truck companies bought Halligan Tools out of pocket. Ladder 47 bought first tool.
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Dec 30, 2011
Usually patents expire after 16 years which would explain the appearance of Halligan "knockoffs" in the late 60's.  None could compare with the original.  Maybe they ceased to be made or maybe the city tried to save a few bucks on a cheaper product.  One winter day we were returning to quarters and spotted a guy chipping ice with of all things an original Halligan tool.  We asked him where he got it and he said it had been in the cellar of the tenement for years.  Of course, we relieved him of it.  They were hard to come by and you dared not lose one.  I was on the job a few month and the Capt. sent me to the shops for some reason (can't remember what) and he said "don't come back empty handed, try to get a Halligan. " He was a scrounger for tools and had a locker full of them in the office.  When I concluded my business at the shops I went to the Tools Room.  I asked the guy for a Halligan.  He laughed.  I spotted an old Kelly tool on the floor in a corner.  I said how about that thing.  He said he was glad to be rid of it.  I thought the Capt. would be disappointed but he was delighted saying, " great, we can use this to trade for something else. " 
speaking of "knockoffs" does anyone remember the 6' hooks made of fiberglass.  The wood hooks made of ash were around for decades and were perfect for the job.  Probably to save money, the job bought these cheap imitations which were to light to pull ceilings with and broke easily.  They were phased out rather quickly.
Dec 6, 2007
In his latter years Chief Halligan was Deputy Chief of the 7th Division at E71, then at E48. On his last duty day before retirement he returned to E88, where he had been appointed, and signed out in the housewatch journal, duplicating where he had signed in forty three years earlier. As captain of E82 (or perhaps 92?), Halligan had a piano placed in quarters and would entertain the neighborhood by playing and singing in his Irish tenor voice. To those who knew him (he was my fathers rabbi) he was quite a character.

Prior to WWI, he served at E88 alongside  a good friend, FF John J. McCarthy. As a probationary fireman, McCarthy was almost killed when a glass canopy collapsed at a second alarm at the Edison Studio on Decatur Avenue in 1914. He also won a department award as a young firefighter for suggesting that the department emphasize fire prevention and eventually led to creation of the Bureau of Fire Prevention. As a captain (L43), McCarthy led a contingent of FDNY firefighters and equipment that sailed to the city of Turin, Italy for an International Exposition on fire fighting.

The careers of Halligan and McCarthy intertwined as they leapfrogged each other up through the ranks. During WWII, Patrick Walsh held both positions as fire commissioner and chief of department. He appointed McCarthy as Deputy Chief of Department in Command, the only person to hold the title, to run the day to day operations of the department. Walsh appointed Halligan, who had served in and commanded the Marine Division,  as First Deputy Commissioner to oversee the security of wartime fire operations in the port of New York. Thus, the two former probies from E88 held two critical positions and virtually ran the entire department during World War II. They remained fast friends and rivals throughout life. McCarthy died relatively young after retiring after the war.

Both of these men were the ultimate professionals. Throughout their careers they would always stop by and visit the men in the place that launched their careers in the FDNY, their beloved Engine Company 88.
Apr 25, 2013
Chief,  I have a similar branded Halligan tool hanging up in my basement. It was given to me as a token of appreciation when I went out as Chief in Spring Valley. I have used it many times up here in the Adirondacks in constructing and tearing down buildings. With it they also gave me the eight (8) pound flat head axe that went with it.  They told me that there was no body else in the department that could use the pair.  I was with Spring Valley Hook & Ladder Company #1 from 1969 through 1994 active and then retired up here in the Adirondacks. Still a life member of both the company and the department.  I turn 83 this June.  Where does time go.
Jul 20, 2022
I had the honor of meeting Chief Hugh Halligan before I was not on the FDNY, but on the List for Appointment. I was working with his nephew and that is how I meet him. He was a gentleman and when I told him I was on the FDNY list his eyes widened and he said, "Great so you'll make good use of the tools they give you." A that time I knew about Hallagan tools but never realized until after the it was his tool innovation among others, he was talking about. Note Hugh Hallagan invented the metal Halligan hook and other F.D. tools.
"Continue to Rest in Peace Chief "Your memory lives on."
Captain Bob Rainey FDNY Engine 26 retired