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Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Containment: Biological agents

Control measure knowledge

Premises that contain or work with biological agents will be equipped to control the use of the agents, protect those who work with them and prevent unauthorised access to controlled areas. Some premises use a control room to manage and access information from the safety systems in operation – these rooms are normally staffed by security personnel and may also be the location of the fire alarm panel.

Controlled areas are likely to involve secure access doors – depending on the hazard group of the biological agent, the number and type of door will vary but the most secure facilities will have several high-security doors with ‘air-lock’ arrangements for containing the biological agent. Between these air-lock doors there are likely to be facilities for washing and changing clothes. Air-lock doors will open automatically and will have inflatable seals that form the air-tight door seal. Controlled areas will also have air-filtration systems to prevent biological agents being released from the areas. The air-filtration systems will include negative air-pressure systems that ensures the air will flow into the controlled area rather than out of the controlled area, should a leak occur.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Identify and maintain records of premises that use and contain biological agents and ensure these sites are visited as part of familiarisation visits, in accordance with relevant fire and rescue legislation

  • Make appropriate arrangements with biological sites for emergency responders to access control rooms in an emergency 

  • Make arrangements for obtaining specialist advice on biological agents, including out of hours contact details

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Attempt to contain the spill or release of any biological agent as close to the source as possible

  • Make contact with biological agent specialist staff to determine the controls that can be operated – and the effect of operating controls

  • Identify the safety systems for biological agents that can be operated by fire and rescue service personnel, along with the measures that must remain in operation and those that can/should be shut down

  • Identify safe areas, accessibility and relevant levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) required at the biological agent scene