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This document is designed to complement and support the National Operational Guidance (NOG) for Hazardous materials which is intended to assist policy writers in fire and rescue services in producing their local policies or guidance for hazardous materials operations. This accompanying foundation document is aimed to provide all fire and rescue service personnel with the detail required for effective, safe and proportionate hazardous material operations to be practised and applied.

The document forms part of a risk based, technical framework produced by the National Operational Guidance Programme (NOGP). It provides the technical information and supporting material required to understand National Operational Guidance: Hazardous materials – Hazards and control measures. Fire and rescue services should consider this foundation material when developing or reviewing their policy, procedures and training programmes to safely and efficiently resolve emergency incidents involving hazardous materials, including CBRN(e).

Additional hazardous materials guidance that will enable fire and rescue service personnel to develop competence in hazardous materials operations is shown in the following table:




Hazardous materials NOG

APR 2016

NOGP Hazard and control measures

Environmental Protection NOG

APR 2015

NOGP Hazard and control measures

‘The environmental protection handbook for the fire and rescue service’, 2013, EA


Environment Agency.

‘Responding to a CBRN(e) event:

Joint operating principles for the emergency services’


Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP).

‘Initial Operational Response to a CBRN(E) Incident’


Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP).

‘The dangerous goods emergency action code list 2015’


National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC), TSO.

The emergency response guidebook (ERG)'


US department of transportation.

Table 1 Additional hazardous materials guidance

In everyday language, the term hazardous materials, also referred to as dangerous/hazardous substances or goods, means solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property or the environment. Hazardous materials not only include materials that are toxic, radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidisers, asphyxiates, biohazards, pathogens or allergenic substances and organisms, but also materials with physical conditions or other characteristics that render them hazardous in specific circumstances. Examples include compressed gases and liquids and hot or cold materials.

Non-fire and rescue service organisations and agencies may use more technical and specific definitions because of their own requirements, but the definition above is the most appropriate one for fire and rescue services to form their risk assessments and planning assumptions. Fire and rescue services may respond to a wide range of incidents involving hazardous materials that have the potential to cause harm to firefighters, the community and the environment. They may be called specifically to deal with emergency spillages or releases, or they may encounter hazardous materials at fires and other emergency incidents. The purpose of this guidance is to assist emergency responders in making safe, risk-assessed, efficient and proportionate responses whenever hazardous materials are encountered in the operational arena.

This foundation document is primarily aimed at five key fire and rescue service operational roles:

  • Control room operators

  • Firefighters

  • Incident commanders

  • Hazardous materials advisers (HMAs)

  • Detection identification and monitoring (DIM advisers)

This foundation document is a knowledge resource intended to support the development of people in accordance with the emergency fire service role maps and the National Occupational Standards (NOS), which describe the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to undertake a particular task or job to a nationally-recognised level of competence. They should be used, in conjunction with the training specifications for hazardous materials, for job design and evaluation, training needs analysis, learning programmes, workplace assessment and performance appraisals.

Fire and rescue services should also be aware that their organisations may require other hazardous materials specific roles to support and manage the hazardous materials response function. The number, type and specification of these roles will vary according to the fire and rescue service’s risk profile and risk management plan.