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by the NFCC

Control measure


Control measure knowledge

Decontaminating equipment at the incident site will reduce the risk of spreading the contaminant. For low level contamination, equipment should be flushed with mains water. Run-off should be discharged to a foul sewer if approved by the sewerage company. For high level contamination, run-off water should be contained and removed by a registered waste carrier. It can be discharged into a foul sewer if approved by the sewerage company and environment agency.

Where decontamination of people or personal protective equipment is carried out in an emergency it is unlikely that any offence will be committed under the relevant legislation. This is not the case when decontaminating equipment, appliances and roadways. There is no legal defence if pollution is caused following decontamination of equipment or body bags. Where there is uncertainty, advice may be sought from:

  • Environment agencies
  • Hazardous materials adviser (or equivalent)
  • Fire and rescue service high volume pump subject matter advisers
  • The local sewerage company

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Be aware of their legal responsibilities and possible defences for decontamination of people, personal protective equipment and the difference in the legislation regarding the decontamination of equipment, appliances, body bags and washing down roadways. See Environmental legislation

  • Include environmental protection within decontamination procedures
  • Where appropriate inform the local environment agency when fire service decontamination activities are in operation

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider the type of decontamination involved and whether it is necessary to contain the decontamination agents used.
  • Consider where people are being decontaminated; public drinking water supplies must be protected from the effects of run-off. (Consider the deployment of additional environmental protection equipment)
  • Consider informing the local environment agency where any form of decontamination is carried out