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Control measure

Life saving actions: Biological agents

Control measure knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with Hazardous materials - Life saving actions.

Biological research establishments are not the only locations where biological agents may be encountered. In addition to research, there are also locations that treat members of the public infected by biological agents; this needs to be considered when assessing life risk*.

Some hospitals and medical facilities have isolation wards where infected members of the public are kept away from uninfected people. This may mean that access is restricted, secure and will require specialist assistance. It may also mean that infected members of the public must be kept isolated when removed from the incident and this should also be considered by the incident commander. Maintaining any isolation conditions will be the responsibility of the health agencies, but fire and rescue service personnel may need to support this in the initial stages of an incident.

*The term ’life risk’ is generally accepted by fire and rescue services to refer to human life – however, at biological research establishments there may also be high animal life risks.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Make appropriate arrangements with persons responsible for any premises that carry out biological research, treatment of members of the public infected by biological agents or animal research

  • Provide a system of recording the use of biological agents and ensure that this information is made available to operational personnel for access at operational incidents

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Assess the existence of life risk at biological incidents

  • Commit crews to perform life-saving operations – in appropriate chemical protective clothing (CPC) if away from the fire risk or full structural firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE) and breathing apparatus (BA) if in fire situation

  • Liaise with medical personnel and on-site advisers to establish an appropriate location for an isolation area away from uninfected people

  • Consider appropriate methods for animal protection, rescue and/or recovery