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Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Gain access or entry

Control measure knowledge

Some emergency incidents may warrant gaining access or entry by force (sometimes referred to as forced entry or forcible entry) without the consent of the owner, occupier or responsible person of the premises, or the owner or keeper of the vehicle. This includes:

  • Extinguishing or preventing the fire or protecting life or property, if it is reasonably believed a fire has broken out or is about to break out
  • Rescuing people or protecting them from serious harm, if it is reasonably believed a road traffic collision has occurred
  • Carrying out any function conferred on the fire and rescue authority, if it is reasonably believed that an emergency of another kind has occurred
  • Preventing or limiting damage to property resulting from the fire and rescue service actions taken

Pre-incident planning

Knowledge and understanding of unique sites and specific components may be obtained while developing Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI) or carrying out site inspection visits.

Familiarity with common styles of windows, doors, locks and security devices may be beneficial, and in particular those found in secure premises in the fire and rescue service area. This could include places of lawful detention or medical facilities.

Consideration should also be given to providing personnel with a form of personal identification for when they need to gain access to property or premises.

Assessing appropriate action

If rapid access or entry is needed to save a life, or prevent more serious damage or firespread, immediate action may be required. However, if the situation is assessed to be less urgent, alternative methods of access or entry, or less invasive techniques should be used to minimise or prevent damage.

Consideration should be given to the type of construction, possible entry points and the type of any security features to determine the most appropriate equipment and techniques for gaining access or entry.

If there is no alternative to gaining access or entry by force, the most effective and appropriate tools should be used to minimise damage. Equipment includes:

  • Cutting, prying and striking tools
  • Mechanical equipment, including lock pulling systems
  • Hydraulic equipment

Before using force to gain access or entry, an appropriate risk assessment should be carried out to:

  • Confirm attendance at the correct address, vehicle or location
  • Determine the need, urgency and legality for the action
  • Check doors, windows and any other points of access, to confirm the action is required
  • Determine:
    • The best point of initial entry
    • The safest and simplest method
    • The most appropriate equipment
  • Determine the impact on this action of any security features –refer to Gain and maintain access and egress for sites with security features for further information
  • Note, and photograph if possible, any indication of criminal activity
  • Consider the impact of this action on a fire-related incident – refer to Gain access or entry: Fire-related incidents for further information

The initial entry point may only need to provide temporary access to the premises; it may then be possible to create an alternative access and egress point.

Having gained access or entry using force, if the initial entry point is damaged, unsafe or restricted in any way, action should be taken to make it safe to use, or to secure alternative access and egress to and from the hazard area.

This action should be prioritised and may include simple actions such as:

  • Covering or removing glass and debris resulting from using force
  • Unlocking or opening a door from the inside after gaining access via a window

The location of alternative access and egress points that are established after initial entry has been made should be communicated to relevant personnel.

Post-incident considerations

If gaining access or entry has been carried out using force, consideration needs to be given to securing the premises after fire and rescue service operations have ended.

Although the security of premises or vehicles is not the legal responsibility of the fire and rescue service, reasonable steps should be taken to ensure the property or vehicle is left in a safe condition. If not present at the incident, the owner, occupier or responsible person for the property, or the owner or keeper of the vehicle, should be advised that access or entry by force has occurred.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide appropriate equipment to enable gaining access or entry by force with minimal damage

  • Consider maintaining a list of companies who can secure premises after access or entry has been gained by force

  • Consider maintaining a list of companies who can secure or remove vehicles after access or entry has been gained by force

  • Provide personnel with a form of personal identification for when they need to gain access to property or premises

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Carry out an appropriate risk assessment to determine the need and legality for gaining access or entry by force

  • Select the safest and simplest method for gaining access or entry by force
  • Implement measures to maintain access and egress during the incident

  • Ensure that prioritised actions are taken to make the initial entry point safe to use, or establish an alternative access and egress point

  • Advise personnel of the location of alternative access and egress points that are established after initial entry has been made

  • Consider taking appropriate steps to secure premises or vehicles after access or entry has been gained by force

  • Prepare personnel for the need to produce an official form of personal identification if challenged when gaining access to property or premises