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by the NFCC

Control measure

Specialist resources: Environmental protection

Control measure knowledge

In addition to the environmental protection resources held by fire and rescue services, specialist resources may also be available from partner agencies and other external specialists.

Fire and rescue services should liaise and establish local working arrangements with other responders. If possible, these should be developed regionally to promote interoperability and intraoperability. Joint working arrangements should be negotiated, monitored and regularly updated. They may be reinforced by the use of joint training and exercises.

Hazardous materials advisers

Fire and rescue service hazardous materials advisers (HMAs) should have received appropriate training for incidents involving hazardous materials and environmental hazards, including for larger-scale incidents. They may be deployed at an incident to monitor or manage environmental protection activities; this may be especially beneficial at multi-agency incidents where specialist resources are in use. For more information refer to Foundation for environmental protection – Training for environmental protection.

Fire and rescue service resources

Fire and rescue service resources should primarily be used for immediate pollution control, rather than for cleaning up. In addition to the grab packs carried on front line appliances, environmental protection units (EPUs) may be provided as part of agreements between the fire and rescue service and environmental agencies. An EPU is a vehicle or demountable unit used to transport specialist equipment and materials to the incident scene.

A standard list of equipment for grab packs and EPUs is provided in the Foundation for environmental protection – Environmental protection: Operational strategies, techniques and equipment.

Pollution control equipment and materials supplied by environmental agencies should be risk assessed, tested periodically and regularly maintained.

The use of detection, identification and monitoring (DIM) equipment may be beneficial, or sometimes essential, when protecting the environment from harm. Some fire and rescue services have access to their own scientific support. If not, this can be requested from a neighbouring fire and rescue service through their fire control room.

Partner agencies

The involvement of partner agencies, and deployment of their specialist equipment, should be considered in the early stages of an incident to protect the environment. Specialist equipment includes that from:

  • Environmental agencies:
    • Specialist pumps
    • Containment equipment
    • Substance identification
    • Equipment for confined space operations
    • Water aeration equipment
  • Highways agencies:
    • Equipment carried in traffic officer vehicles
    • Response units with containment and cleaning equipment
  • Local authorities:
    • Containment equipment, often carried on traffic management vehicles
    • Gully suckers
  • Water and sewerage undertakers:
    • Containment equipment

The nature of the incident, especially if illegal activity is suspected, may determine the need for police assistance. Fire and rescue services may choose to deploy a National Inter-agency Liaison Officer (NILO) to this type of incident. The police may need to take action prior to the arrival of an environmental officer, or carry out investigations. For more information refer to Operations - Conduct or support investigations.

External specialist resources

A wide range of external specialists may be able to provide environmental protection assistance. This includes private companies that specialise in the clean-up and transportation of hazardous waste. If external specialists may be required, an early request should be made as their response time may be extended.

The external specialist resources requested should be appropriate for the type, size and complexity of the incident.

Cost recovery

As the use of environmental protection resources will attract a cost, consideration should be given as to who will be financially liable. As this usually follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the fire and rescue service should attempt to obtain details of the polluter.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Identify or develop personnel for the specialist role of hazardous material advisers

  • Establish joint working arrangements with specialist environmental protection resources 

  • Consider participating in joint training and exercises to ensure relevant personnel have an understanding of multi-agency working arrangements for environmental protection

  • Maintain a directory of specialist environmental protection resources

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider deploying a hazardous materials adviser to monitor or manage environmental protection activities 

  • Consider requesting specialist resources from own or neighbouring fire and rescue services, or partner agencies for environmental protection

  • Consider requesting appropriate external specialist environmental protection resources

  • Attempt to obtain details of the polluter for cost recovery purposes if environmental protection resources are used