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by the NFCC

Control measure

Hazard identification within a controlled site or uncontrolled location

Control measure knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with Scene survey: Hazardous materials.

Premises that contain and use biological agents for the purpose of research are also known to contain a number of additional hazards; these areas are covered by other areas of National Operational Guidance, such as:

  • Radioactive materials
  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Bulk solvents/flammable liquids
  • Cryogenics
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners

However, some hazards are either specific to biological research establishments or present risks that are specific to biological research, such as:

  • Hazard Group/Class 1 – 4 biological agents
  • Infected people/animals

Where these hazards are present, certain alternate actions may be necessary to resolve an operational incident.

If a biological agent is stored or used, then the site should be a controlled site. Uncontrolled areas are described as areas where biological agents maybe encountered but are not being stored or used. Such incidents could include road traffic collisions (RTCs) where bodily fluids are encountered, or foul water areas where either animal or human excrement may be found. Simple steps can be employed to protect against these risks, such as using impervious personal protective equipment (PPE) barriers (eye protection, nitrile gloves, etc.). Medical precautionary measures can also be considered, such as immunisation. Simple general hygiene steps, such as hand washing with warm water and soap, and laundering contaminated clothing may be sufficient.

Animals within the facility should not normally be rescued, as they may potentially be infected with biological agents. However, the incident commander should consider all information when making a risk-based analysis. Information such as the unique nature of work being undertaken and the potential of total loss without the ability to repeat the work should be considered. Fire and rescue service personnel should liaise with a hazardous materials adviser (HMA) or on-site specialist.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure there are means of recording known locations with biological agents

  • Provide the means for accessing specialist advice specific to biological agents

  • Provide systems for recognising and interpreting biological agent signage

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Determine the hazards and nature of the release of biological agents and the containment area in which the release has occurred

  • Identify all hazardous material hazards in addition to biological agents

  • Consider the environment of the incident, the potential biological agent exposure and the precautionary steps required – seek advice from a hazardous materials adviser (HMA) if required