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Fire and rescue service legislation

Key legislation for incident command is provided in Incident command - Legislation. Fire and rescue services must also be aware of their responsibilities under other relevant legislation that considers the environment.

The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) (England) Order: The Order places a duty on fire and rescue services in England to have the capability to remove chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive contaminants from people at an emergency. There is also a duty to contain water used for decontamination for a reasonable time. Fire and rescue services must take steps to prevent or limit environmental damage when decontaminating people.

The Fire (Additional Function) (Scotland) Order places a similar duty on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, as does The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) (Wales) Order and The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) (Wales) (Amendment) Order in Wales, and The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) Order (Northern Ireland) in Northern Ireland. For more information refer to Foundation for environmental protection - The fire and rescue services emergency or additional function orders.

Civil Contingencies Act: As Category 1 responders, fire and rescue services are part of the multi-agency response to civil emergencies. The role of the fire and rescue service under the act is to save life, and to protect property and the environment. To be an 'environmental emergency', an incident must be one of the following:

  • Contamination of land, water or air with a harmful biological, chemical or radioactive substance
  • Flooding
  • Disruption or destruction to plant life or animal life