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Control measure

Scene survey: Fires and firefighting

Control measure knowledge

For an incident commander to formulate a safe and effective operational plan, a high level of situational awareness should be achieved. A full scene survey of the fireground at the earliest opportunity can help to establish the location and extent of a fire, along with safe access and egress points and routes or designated rendezvous point (RVP) for the incident.

The incident commander may nominate another suitably qualified member(s) of personnel to carry out the task if it would be safer and more effective to do so, especially since, at some large incident sites, a full scene survey could be a prolonged activity. Details such as further life risk, fire development or alternative access routes must be relayed to the incident commander and all relevant personnel.

Fire and rescue service commanders may need to carry out a scene survey repeatedly during prolonged fire incidents to provide the most recent information from the incident ground for incident command personnel to adapt their plan as necessary.

Employing other resources to provide aerial survey could be considered, such as:

  • Police helicopters or other aircraft
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle or drones
  • Aerial appliances

See National Operational Guidance: Incident Command - Situational awareness

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide incident commanders with development to support the gaining of situational awareness through scene survey

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Identify the location of the fire, materials involved and any potential for flashover or backdraught
  • Consider potential causes of fire e.g. deliberate or accidental ignition and illegal activities

  • Continually monitor and assess the fire development for signs and symptoms of escalation

  • Assess the potential for thermal radiation damage and fire spread on buildings and surrounding areas

  • Continually monitor the incident area for undetected fire spread

  • Identify any risk of running or pooling fuel fires

  • Ensure that regular scene surveys are carried out based on the nature and severity of the fire