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by the NFCC

Control measure

Cutting away

Control measure knowledge

During firefighting and salvage operations, crews may need to cut away elements of a structure, removing surface coverings such as flooring, skirting, roofing members and partitions to ensure that all hot spots have been exposed and the fire has been fully extinguished.

Various techniques and methods of cutting away may be required to assist in locating a fire. For example, at chimney/hearth fires, in voids or between floors may require significant cutting away actions to locate the fire and enable adequate extinguishing media to be applied.

Crews involved in cutting away should be aware of the type of building involved and the construction methods likely to be encountered. Cutting away even small areas may have an impact on the entire structure and care should be taken to ensure that the wider structure remains safe at all times. This can be particularly relevant in timber-framed structures where one element weakened through fire or fire and rescue service intervention could have a detrimental effect on the entire building's strength. Incident commanders should ensure that nominated safety officers and/or specialist advice are used where appropriate.

Crews should try to ensure that, as far as practicable, cutting away any parts of a structure or property is done in the most effective manner, minimising property damage and allowing easy repair.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Develop tactical guidance and support arrangements for the hazards that may be encountered and the actions to be taken when considering cutting away coverings and structures to locate fires and firespread
  • Develop local arrangements to ensure that during operational incidents relevant building structural integrity is assessed by suitably qualified individuals

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Undertake cutting away to locate and extinguish fire, considering the risk of weakening structure