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Response plans

Response plans should be in place for all locations where explosives may be found, including temporary arrangements (e.g. during loading/unloading of ships in harbours). The plans will be a mixture of those required by legislation and the fire and rescue service’s tactical plan. The size and complexity of the plan should reflect the type of site; for example, sites categorised as top tier in the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 2015 are required to have a safety case that will include an on-site plan with an integrated external emergency plan that must be prepared by the local authority.

When an incident occurs at smaller sites outside of normal working hours (e.g. retail storage of fireworks), their plan may not be readily available. Consideration should therefore be given to obtaining a copy as part of the risk based inspection/visit process.

For firefighting and search and rescue, fire and rescue services should consider:

  • Safe access/egress routes within the establishment and boundary, particularly for aerial appliances and other specialised vehicles, giving consideration to available headroom, width, ground clearance, hard standing turning circles and load restrictions
  • Travel distances from access points to various points in the building or around the grounds
  • Details of fixed fire protection installations (ventilators, sprinklers, drenchers, fire shutters, any back-up installations, etc.)
  • Safe areas where firefighting operations can be undertaken
  • The locations in which to site command and control units, breathing apparatus control and special appliances to maximise the overall control of the incident
  • Communication dead spots
  • Water supplies, hydrants (open and tanked)
  • Distances from water sources and pressure calculations
  • Designated rendezvous points for initial attendance and whether these are emergency services as a whole or for fire and rescue service use only; consideration should be given to dependency on wind speed and direction and alternatives

For hazard zones, exclusion zones and evacuation distances, fire and rescue services should consider:

  • Safe distances to establish notional hazard zones associated with the permitted quantity, HD, etc.
  • Evacuation distances for when explosives are involved in fire

Once explosives are confirmed to be involved in a fire an exclusion zone should be set up

For further information regarding hazard zones and evacuation distances see National Operational Guidance: Physical hazards - Hazard - Explosive materials involved in fire.