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by the NFCC

Control measure

Specialist equipment: Unstable surfaces

Control measure knowledge

It is important to avoid walking on unstable surfaces wherever possible. When this is not possible, specialist equipment should be used to mitigate the risk of collapse. The use of inflatable rescue paths and other types of platform may spread the weight and provide a stable platform to work from. Inflatable rescue paths and sleds are buoyant and may reduce the risk of immersion when working on an unstable surface such as ice above a body of water.

When operating on mud in tidal areas, the use of suitable rescue craft should be considered.

Buoyancy aids should be used where there is a risk of submersion in water. Consider the hazards related to removing casualties from restricted areas such as holes in ice when using automatically inflated buoyancy aids.

When transporting equipment consider towing or using backpacks or bags to allow the use of hands whilst moving and reduce the risk of losing dropped equipment.

Suitable methods for removing casualties may also be required and the additional weight of the casualty considered during recovery.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Have access to equipment and vehicles appropriate for working on terrain in their area

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider the use of specifically designed and approved inflatable rescue paths

  • Consider the use of specialist equipment for rescues from mud, ice and unstable surfaces