This National Operational Guidance highlights key actions for fire and rescue service responders in the event of a major incident. It is ‘context’ guidance; it addresses the hazards that relate specifically to the scale of major incidents rather than the activity that needs to take place. Guidance dealing with the hazards of the activity of major incidents such as flooding, CBRN(e) events or a large scale fire are covered elsewhere within the National Operational Guidance framework.
Fire and rescue services and other emergency responders do not use terms such as disaster or crisis to describe a large scale emergency. They respond to incidents, or major incidents, and this guidance set out the additional activities or responsibilities that may be required to manage a major incident. It is important that the individuals who could be first on scene for their respective responder agency are able to declare a major incident according to service and local arrangements, and that they understand the benefits of doing so early.
The definition of a major incident is "an event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency". They are likely to be larger, more complex, endanger more people or threaten larger areas, and will require additional levels of command, control and co-ordination. This will be likely to involve many emergency services and other responding agencies in a long and high impact event. This fire and rescue service context guidance should therefore be read in conjunction with National Operational Guidance: Incident command and the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles.