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Control measure

Situational awareness: Fires in buildings

Control measure knowledge

Understanding a building's design and construction,its performance in a fire and it's occupancy will help personnel to carry out appropriate and informed risk assessments.

To carry out an appropriate informed risk assessment of a fire in a building, personnel should have an appropriate understanding of:

  • Building design
  • Construction materials
  • The effects of fire and firefighting on a building
  • Building use
  • Occupancy types

The following sources of information should help to inform situational awareness throughout the incident:

Information from:

  • Fire control rooms
  • Responsible person
  • Occupants
  • External safety officers
  • Personnel operating inside the building
  • Other agencies

Building plans

When developing a tactical plan, information contained in building plans should be considered. Plans may be available from:

  • Fire control rooms
  • Mobile data terminals
  • The responsible person
  • The site office
  • Premises information boxes

Building systems

Buildings may have systems that can assist the fire and rescue service in obtaining information about the nature of an incident.

These systems could identify the initial location and time of any actuations and may indicate subsequent firespread. In some premises there will be a building fire control room that monitors the building’s systems.

Some buildings will have slave control or repeater panels, which could be helpful for gathering information, but may not have all of the functionality of a main control panel.

Other systems, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and suppression systems, may provide relevant information.

Engineered solutions

Information on the presence and status of complex fire engineering and associated fixed installations may be available from the responsible person, the building’s fire control room or from SSRI.

Fire engineered solutions can be complex, and as each building could have bespoke systems, it may be necessary to seek information from a responsible person, a competent person, such as fire safety officer, or from SSRI to assist incident commanders when evaluating the effect of fire engineered solutions.

See hazard Buildings with complex fire engineering for more information.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • During fire safety inspections, gather information about fixed installations and building systems installed and ensure they function appropriately

  • Record information regarding building design, construction materials and occupancy type in SSRI 

  • Gather information regarding any changes to buildings between fire safety inspections,including any change of use or occupancy

  • Ensure information about building systems is recorded in SSRI

  • Record contact details of the responsible person, where appropriate

  • Establish information sharing arrangements regarding unauthorised habitation or use of buildings

  • Provide personnel with information that has been gathered during fire safety inspections

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Access information that will inform situational awareness at fires in buildings

  • Liaise with the responsible person to gather information about the fire in the building and any actions taken

  • Liaise with the responsible person to identify the fire strategy and evacuation routes

  • Document any relevant verbal information that is received

  • Check accuracy of plans with the responsible person

  • Use any available plans of the building to inform tactical decision making

  • Consider the building’s design, construction materials and occupancy type

  • Check building systems such as fire alarm or security systems and CCTV