Failure to work safely and effectively with others and their vehicles or equipment
Fire and rescue services need to consider the wider collaborative partnership approach to wildfires within their area. Wildfires can have a direct and indirect effect on the environment and the economy, therefore, a significant number of organisations (or individuals) have a vested interest in sharing best practice in planning, preventing and responding to wildfires. Fire and rescue services may be assisted at wildfire incidents by other organisations that supply their personnel or volunteers, their knowledge of the area and its associated hazards, or provide additional resources such as vehicles or equipment.
Fire and rescue services need to consider the potential significant benefits of working with other organisations at wildfire incidents, but they also need to implement appropriate control measures to ensure that all organisations work together safely and effectively.
Note that for this hazard, wherever the term organisation is used, this could also apply to an individual who is assisting the fire and rescue service.
It is essential that organisations supporting fire and rescue services at wildfire incidents do so in a safe, controlled and competent manner that will minimise the risk of harm or damage to personnel, the general public, property, animals and the environment.
Fire and rescue services need to be aware that other organisations that may attend a wildfire may not be familiar with operating in a fire environment or be aware of fire and rescue service procedures. Similarly, fire and rescue services may not be familiar with the equipment, policies and procedures of other organisations that may attend. Pre-planning and exercises can help to significantly improve shared situational awareness and to promote safe working practices among all the attending organisations. Effective pre-planning can also improve the effectiveness and efficiency of multi-agency wildfire suppression operations.
Fire and rescue services should consider developing partnerships and good working relationships with other organisations to pre-plan for wildfire incidents. These partnerships can be established to:
- Share knowledge and understanding
- Enable familiarisation of policies and procedures
- Prepare for wildfire incidents, for example through the collaborative development of wildfire fire plans (refer to Control Measure: Refer to Emergency response plans: Wildfire for further information)
- Pre-plan the response to wildfire incidents
- Exercise for a multi-agency response to wildfire incidents
A number of successful partnerships have already been established around the UK to pre-plan and exercise for a multi-agency response to wildfires. Some of these multi-agency groups that address wildfires are called wildfire groups or fire groups, while others have been called fire operations groups; these groups may also engage in other activities related to wildfires such as wildfire prevention.
The selection of appropriate rendezvous points (RVPs) for all attending organisations can be a critical activity and where possible should be pre-planned. Rendezvous points (RVPs) need to accommodate all of the resources attending from all organisations and need to be a safe distance from operational activity. Refer to Emergency response plans: Wildfire for further information.
Learning from incidents and training is a key factor for developing effective multi-agency working at wildfires. Processes can be established to identify and share learning both locally, regionally and nationally to inform and develop best practice. Some landowners have been working their land for many years and are aware of how fire will travel, develop and damage the environment. This awareness may come from previous experience of wildfires and/or from involvement in vegetation management through prescribed burning. They may have a range of options that could assist the incident commander including techniques, equipment and joint learning opportunities that could influence future policies and procedures.
Fire and rescue services may also find benefits in assisting landowners with prescribed burning, as this can provide personnel with live fire training and experience. Fire and rescue services should carefully plan and risk assess this type of training. Any training involving prescribed burning operations must be completed in accordance with relevant rules, regulations and guidance on burning vegetation. Refer to the following for further information:
- The Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007
- The Heather and Grass etc. Burning (Wales) Regulations 2008
- The Heather and Grass Burning Code for Wales 2008
- The Muirburn Code 2011 (Scotland)
- Countryside Management Publications: Heather Moorland (Northern Ireland)
Refer to the section on 'Preparedness, pre-planning and partnerships' in the Scottish Government's Wildfire Operational Guidance for further information on pre-planning.
Other organisations often have access to a wider range of specialist equipment, such as agricultural vehicles and off-road vehicles, which can assist fire and rescue services in dealing with wildfires more safely and effectively. However, fire and rescue services may not be familiar with the equipment or working practices of other organisations. It is essential that, when other agencies are assisting fire and rescue services, in particular on the incident ground, there is a clear, common understanding of any hazards associated with the actions of each organisation. The identified hazards should be effectively controlled and details should be communicated to personnel that may be exposed to them.
Pre-planning activity should be considered to assess the degree of interoperability between the fire and rescue services and non-fire and rescue service equipment. This activity should also take into account variations in the procedures of the organisations that may be operating the equipment.
Identification and scoping of any cost implications of using non-fire and rescue service equipment or vehicles at wildfire incidents should be included in pre-planning activities.
Knowledge and understanding
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Understand all associated hazard knowledge