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Terminology of National Operational Guidance

National Operational Guidance uses strategic actions to assist services in identifying actions that will help them meet their legislative requirements and record them using the Strategic Gap Analysis tool.

The guidance aims to provide its users with a clear understanding of what must be done, their absolute duties, what should be done and what may be done. It uses lead sentences such as ’Fire and rescue services must’ and ‘Fire and rescue services should’.

The following definitions have been applied to the National Operational Guidance:

‘Must’ – actions that are required by legislation. For example:

An assessment must be carried out to identify whether the space is confined. Some spaces will become confined spaces because of the work to be carried out in them or because of changes in their use or changes to the level of enclosure.

‘Should’ – actions that are recommended. If policies or procedures follow a different action, or do not include the recommended action, they are likely to attract criticism; this could be at managerial level or in a review process such as an inquest. For example:

A face mask fit test should be carried out as part of the initial selection of the respiratory protective equipment, and it is good practice to ensure testing is repeated on a regular basis.

‘May’, ‘can’ or ‘could’ – used when an action does not fall into either of the categories above, but is considered to be an appropriate method of controlling or eliminating the hazard. For example:

At incidents that involve working at height there may be instances where the incident commander cannot observe all areas of the incident, and may not initially have enough information to maintain situational awareness.