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Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Control measure

Gain and maintain safe access and egress: Below ground structures

Control measure knowledge

Safe access and egress will need to be gained and maintained for any incident involving below ground structures. Alternative means of making an entry should be considered and emergency arrangements put in place.

In addition to identifying the most appropriate access point, the precise location of the incident within the infrastructure should be found to:

  • Identify the likely travel distances and working duration of personnel
  • Identify or anticipate any obstructions that may affect access
  • Factor in the effects of fatigue due to extended travel distances to and from the scene of operations, especially when carrying equipment
  • Consider using suitable lifts, vehicles or on-site machinery to transport personnel or equipment

Using lights, markers or barrier tape should be considered to indicate the extent of the inner cordon within complex structures, or where there are no distinguishing way finders or location indicators. Similarly, these items should be considered for indicating the door or level that leads to the way out along the route to the surface. This may be particularly important if there is a shaft below ground that is part of a larger above ground building

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Assess the need to provide additional equipment for personnel attending an incident at a below ground structure

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Identify the location of all potential access and egress routes for below ground structures to inform the tactical plan

  • Establish and maintain safe means of access to, and egress from, below ground structures at all times

  • Only use suitable lifts, vehicles or on-site machinery to transport personnel and equipment in below ground structures

  • Account for any extended travel times in the incident plan and establish contingencies for below ground structures

  • Consider the use of physical indicators to mark the inner cordon and egress routes for below ground structures