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Control measure
Encourage safe response drivers, passengers and road users

Control measure knowledge

Emergency responders en route to incidents must be fully equipped to deal with the various hazards they may encounter. Situations that they encounter may be related to the actions, inactions and reactions of other drivers when confronted with a responding emergency vehicle. Inexperienced or anxious drivers may cause a delay to the emergency response by adopting a poor road position with their vehicle. Inappropriate reactions by other road users could result in a collision and subsequent injury to members of the public and/or emergency responders.

The Health and Safety Executive document HSE Driving at work - Managing work-related road safety contains issues for people who drive at work. It suggests that managing work-related road safety effectively helps reduce risk, no matter what the size of the organisation. They also give examples where this type of road management policy may also result in:

  • Fewer injuries to drivers
  • A reduced risk of work-related ill health
  • Reduced stress and improved morale

Drivers and passengers should be aware of their duty to comply with both the Highway Code and service policy. They should also be aware that while some exemptions exist for road traffic legislation these do not permit driving dangerously.

The choice of words and phrases used in mobilisation messages will influence behaviour from the receipt of a call in fire control to fire station turnout, during response and immediately on arrival.

See: Fire and Rescue Authorities, Health, safety and welfare framework for the operational environment, Section 9.1

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services must:
  • Develop policy guidance and support arrangements for driving emergency response vehicles
  • Ensure compliance with the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
  • Regularly monitor their drivers' entitlement to drive (Section 87(2) Road Traffic Act 1988
  • Ensure on call personnel are made aware of, and conform to legal requirements when responding to fire stations on receiving an emergency call
  • Ensure that an appropriate driver training and maintenance of skills programme is in place, and that drivers satisfy medical requirements
Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider the impact of the information contained in the alert message and how it may affect the driver's perception of urgency (i.e. urgency of response appropriate to nature of call).
  • Take account of the impact of fatigue and stress when assigning operational personnel to incidents particularly during spate conditions
  • Consider the impact of the working/driving time regulations particularly with retained duty system personnel who may drive commercial vehicles in their main employment contract
  • Ensure appropriate arrangements and control measures are in place to identify and control the hazards associated with lone working en route to incidents. This may apply to officers responding in cars in particular (See Working alone - Health and safety guidance on the risks of lone working)
  • Ensure that all personnel are aware of the dangers of multi-tasking and its contribution to road accidents (Highway Code General Advice Para 148-150 - Driver Distraction)
  • Consider working with partner agencies to provide information to members of the public on the correct actions to take when encountering responding emergency vehicles

Tactical actions

Fire control operators should:
  • Consider how words and phrases used in mobilisation messages might influence the behaviour of responding personnel
  • Ensure that relevant information and any changes at the incident that may influence the urgency of their attendance or choice of access route is communicated to attending personnel whilst en route
Incident commanders should:
  • Take account of the impact of fatigue and stress when assigning operational personnel to incidents particularly during spate conditions.
All personnel should:
  • Ensure that vehicles are driven in accordance with service policy and procedure
  • Immediately report all road traffic collisions in accordance with service policy