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Control measure
Arrangements to deal with firefighter emergencies

Control measure knowledge

The rescue and recovery of firefighters is challenging. Difficult decisions may need to be made. The situation calls for clear judgement, often while struggling to keep emotions under control.

If the incident commander and other commanders fail to maintain control, it may lead to an outcome with serious health and safety consequences. Crews are likely to place themselves at considerable risk to rescue or recover colleagues.

A situation where a firefighter needs rescuing is very likely to lead to fire and rescue service personnel and others experiencing increased stress. This can affect the way people make decisions and process information. See Personal resilience.

The incident commander's resilience and ability to manage pressure in this situation is critical to maintain control. Other important factors are maintaining good situational awareness and sharing accurate information such as last known locations and tasks they were undertaking.

After an incident there may be a requirement to investigate its cause. This may be part of a fire and rescue service review to identify the cause of the incident or to look at how effective fire safety measures were. Additionally, it may be part of a criminal investigation by the police. Other agencies may also have a legal requirement to investigate, for example, the Air Accident Investigation Branch, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Rail Accident Investigation Branch or the Health and Safety Executive.

From the start of an investigation, fire and rescue service personnel should make sure that evidence is not destroyed or disturbed. They should also make observations and notes to help investigators.

The Health and Safety Executive offer guidance on best practice for the investigation of accidents in the workplace. These include the Work Related Deaths Protocol.

Further information is available. See CFOA guide Death in the Workplace: Guidance for United Kingdom fire and rescue services.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services must:
  • Have policies for firefighter emergencies which incorporate communications, investigation and welfare.
Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider developing procedures for critical incident welfare of affected personnel

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Establish emergency arrangements appropriate to the size and complexity of the incident

  • Maintain effective command and control in an emergency situation and review incident priorities, tactics and resources

  • In a firefighter emergency preserve the scene to inform future internal and external investigations