Skip to main content

Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Control measure

Request National Resilience resources: Urban Search and Rescue

Control measure knowledge

The National Resilience urban search and rescue (USAR) capability provides a response model that offers a range of predetermined mobilising options. When deployed, they can improve the response of local, cross-border and national resources and support the affected fire and rescue service.

The USAR response model is flexible, scalable and able to support timely decision-making, even when only limited information is available. This ensures there is an appropriate and proportionate response, based on the principles of predetermined and intelligent mobilising.

USAR response model

Response option

Description

How an affected fire and rescue service should request assistance

1

Remote USAR advice from the nearest USAR hosting service.

USAR TacAds should be contacted by their fire control room and a request made for them to contact the incident commander of the affected fire and rescue service.

The TacAd will make an assessment based on the information provided by the incident commander and advise on the escalation to another response option if required.

Through mutual aid arrangements, between each service’s fire control rooms, to provide a rapid and co-ordinated response to a USAR incident.

If a USAR TacAd is not available, contact NRFC to request an alternative, making them aware of the initial request.

The affected fire and rescue service need to inform the NRAT that a National Resilience asset has been deployed.

2

Attendance at the scene by a representative of the most readily available USAR asset for capability advice, or deployment of specific components of the capability. For example, a USAR search dog team or search equipment.

Through mutual aid arrangements, between each service’s fire control rooms, to provide a rapid and co-ordinated response to a USAR incident.

If the required USAR component is not available, contact NRFC to request an alternative, making them aware of any locally arranged deployment.

3

Attendance of a USAR unit, which can deploy to support operations with a full suite of personnel and equipment.

Through mutual aid arrangements, between each service’s fire control rooms, to provide a rapid and co-ordinated response to a USAR incident.

If the nearest USAR unit is unavailable, contact NRFC to request an alternative, making them aware of any locally arranged deployment.

4

A group response is the deployment of five USAR units from the teams surrounding the affected fire and rescue service, which is known as a response zone.

As a deployment of this scale involves multiple fire and rescue services, the request needs to be made through NRFC.

It will attract management and control from NRFC as detailed in the NCAF.

5

Attendance of a double group USAR response, which is ten USAR units from two response zones.

As a deployment of this scale involves multiple fire and rescue services, the request needs to be made through NRFC.

It will attract management and control from NRFC as detailed in the NCAF.

Key to abbreviations in USAR response model:

NCAF    National Co-ordination Advisory Framework

NRAT    National Resilience Assurance Team

NRFC     National Resilience Fire Control

TacAd   Tactical adviser

USAR awareness

The affected fire and rescue service is responsible for ensuring that personnel have received appropriate awareness training about the National Co-ordination Advisory Framework (NCAF), and how to access specialist National Resilience capabilities. This is essential pre-incident knowledge for the affected fire and rescue service, as they are responsible for surveying the scene, assessing the impact of the incident and requesting appropriate resources.

Subject to appropriate risk assessment, actions to save life, prevent incident escalation or to provide humanitarian aid should not be delayed while waiting for USAR resources. Personnel should apply USAR awareness training and recognise the hazards associated with the type of incident. This should in turn be used to determine the limits of initial responder actions.

The primary focus for the USAR capability is to be equipped, trained and available to respond to large-scale events such as collapsed structures or major transport incidents.

The capability can also be used to support incidents including:

  • High-profile searches for missing people
  • Responses to extreme medical cases requiring technical rescue
  • Support to other agencies, providing additional expertise and technical capability, such as confined space operations

USAR equipment includes:

  • Visual search equipment
  • Stand-off search capability
  • Audible search equipment
  • Structural monitoring equipment
  • Canine search
  • Breaking, breaching and cutting equipment
  • Shoring equipment
  • Lifting and moving equipment
  • Safety equipment
  • Communications equipment
  • Lighting equipment
  • Equipment for confined space operations
  • Safe work at height equipment
  • Medical equipment

Information required by NRFC for a group or double group response (response options 4 or 5)

The request to NRFC will prompt the mobilisation of National Resilience USAR resources from one or more hosting fire and rescue services. The NRFC should provide an estimated time of arrival; this information will assist the incident commander in determining what level of initial operational response is required.

If the incident commander believes that USAR assistance is required, they should provide the following information to NRFC:

  • Incident location
  • Type of incident
  • The approximate number of people involved
  • Scale of the incident:
    • Approximate size
    • Footprint
    • Number of floors
  • Construction of the structure, if involved:
    • Light structure – light frame or traditional (un-reinforced) masonry construction
    • Medium structure – heavy timber, reinforced masonry, and modular concrete construction
    • Heavy structure – reinforced concrete or steel frame construction
  • Initial location for a rendezvous point (RVP), strategic holding area (SHA) or multi-agency strategic holding area (MASHA) – for further information refer to the GOV.UK guidance, Multi-agency strategic holding areas: a guide

Additional information regarding the incident should be shared with NRFC and the USAR team, including:

  • Number of people confirmed trapped or missing
  • Occupancy – the possible number of people, likely locations and any complex requirements
  • Occupancy type – children or adults
  • Time of day – refers to the time of the event that caused the structure to collapse, which is a critical factor when combined with the number of people
  • Information from witnesses about known trapped casualties, or last known position of potential casualties
  • The use of the structure
  • Possible cause of collapse, the current state of the structure (total or partial collapse) and potential for further collapse
  • Main hazards and any involvement of damaged utilities
  • What actions have already been taken and the current tactical mode
  • Other emergency responder agencies present

Consideration should also be given to requesting other specialist resources; for further information refer to Incident command – Specialist resources.

These requests are in addition to the need to send a M/ETHANE message.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure relevant personnel are aware of the National Coordination Advisory Framework and the National Resilience capabilities

  • Have systems in place to request USAR advice and resources from the National Resilience Fire Control

  • Ensure relevant personnel have an understanding of the National Resilience capabilities

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Establish the quantity and types of resources being provided and identify suitable locations for them – RVP, SHA or MASHA

  • Establish the estimated time of arrival for the NR resources

  • Consider requesting the attendance of other specialist resources