Skip to main content

Control measure
Gain access/entry

Control measure knowledge

Fire and rescue services are afforded the power to enter premises or a place, by force if necessary, or break into a vehicle without the consent of its owner or occupier. These actions are authorised where a fire has broken out, a road traffic collision or an emergency of another kind has occurred.

Gaining access or entry by force will invariably result in some degree of damage to property; to limit damage, personnel should consider different types of forcible entry methods. Fire and rescue services use many different types of forcible entry tools, ranging from basic cutting, prying and striking tools to sophisticated mechanical and hydraulic equipment.

A key factor for incident commanders to consider when undertaking forcible entry to any premises or site is the need to secure the premises after operations have ended. Although the security of premises is not the legal responsibility of the fire and rescue service, the incident commander should take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the site is left in a safe condition. Before making an entry to any premises, crews should be mindful of noting any points that may indicate evidence of criminal activity.

For further information, see: Fire and Rescues Services Act 2004 (or equivalent devolved legislation)

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide crews with training to enable the gaining of access and entry to premises or places with minimal damage

Tactical actions

Incident commanders must:
  • Ensure compliance with the powers of entry granted by the Fire and Rescue Services Act and devolved equivalent

Incident commanders may:
  • Enter premises or a place, by force if necessary, without the consent of the owner or occupier of the premises: 
    • if they reasonably believe an emergency to have occurred
    • if they reasonably believe a fire to have broken out or to be about to break out
    • for the purpose of extinguishing or preventing the fire or protecting life or property
    • NB Does not apply to Crown property (including ministry of defence) and diplomatic or consular premises
    • NB The Master of the ship (or delegated officer) of a merchant vessel must give permission to board
  • Move or break into a vehicle without the consent of its owner
Incident commanders should:
  • Select the safest and simplest method of gaining entry
  • Gain access to premises causing minimal damage considering the urgency of the situation

  • Consider a range of means of accessing incident including the use of specialist vehicles
  • Consider carefully removing metal security screens considering weight and fixing methods