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Communications

Suitable and sufficient communications procedures must be established and maintained between the command team, the BA entry control point and all BA teams throughout the duration of their deployment.

Communications equipment used with BA should be suitable for use within flammable environments, complying with the requisite level of intrinsic safety.

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Operational practice

Communication between BA teams and the BA entry control operative is essential to the effective command and control of an incident and the safety and welfare of BA wearers. All relevant information should be shared.

The BA team briefing should be given to all team members. It should include all information relevant to the team’s task and safety, including emergency procedures. Regular communication between BA team members is essential to ensure the safety of personnel and the exchange of information within the BA team.

When BA teams in the risk area come into contact with each other, team leaders should exchange all relevant information.

Where radio communications are used, a dedicated BA communications channel (s) should be specified and used. However, at less complex incidents where the use of BA commuincations is minimal and manageable, a general channel may be used for all hand held radio communications.

In normal circumstances, the BA team leader should instigate all communications between the BA team and the BA entry control point. However, in an emergency, any BA team member may send a message.

BA team members should be debriefed as soon as practicable after leaving the risk area. Debriefing should include any information that could assist in resolving the incident or improving safety for BA teams. Essential and risk-critical information must be communicated to the incident commander as soon as possible and before debriefing.

Where assistance with BA communications becomes necessary at the BA entry control point, the incident commander should make the appropriate resources available.

Normally, BA communications between teams will be via the BA entry control operative. However, circumstances may arise where BA teams need to communicate directly with other teams by radio. In such cases, teams should identify themselves and the team(s) they wish to contact through their unique incident BA team call sign (see designation of BA entry control point and BA teams). As long as radio traffic is kept to a minimum, this should not prevent risk-critical information from being passed between BA teams.

Where communications are more complex and a greater level of control and supervision is required, the incident, operations or sector commander may need to appoint a BA communications operative.  BA communications operatives should be considered under Stage 2 BA entry control.

The incident commander should consider using line communications equipment:

  • Where a high degree of intrinsic safety is required and cannot be provided through hand-held radio and electronic communications equipment
  • Where incidents require deep penetration into structures, such as basements and tunnels
  • Where incidents are likely to be of long duration
  • Where BA guidelines are required
  • Where airline equipment is in use without BA being worn

Role and responsibilities of the BA communications operative

The BA communications operative will:

  • Report to, and take instruction from, the person responsible for the BA entry control point, and work alongside the BA entry control operative
  • Send and receive messages, liaising with the BA entry control operative and the person responsible for the BA entry control point
  • Provide appropriate communications equipment
  • Maintain a position close to the BA entry control operative
  • Carry out a communications check with BA teams before entering the risk area
  • Monitor BA teams’ progress in the risk area
  • Inform and update the person responsible for the BA entry control point of any unexplained breakdown in communications with BA teams

For further information regarding communications see: National Operational Guidance: Incident command – Ineffective organisation of the incident ground