Skip to main content

Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Control measure

Gain access or entry: Sites with security features

Control measure knowledge

The fire and rescue service may be able to gain access via codes or keys for sites with security features. The responsible person, or a security company, should be contacted to assist with gaining access.Where possible there should be liaison with the responsible person and a review of risk information to establish if access or egress may be affected by security features.

If it is not possible to deactivate the security feature, it may be necessary to gain access or entry by force (sometimes referred to as forced entry or forcible entry). Before doing so the impact of this entry on any hazards present should be considered.

The type of building construction, possible entry points and the security features present should be assessed. This will assist with selecting the most appropriate equipment and techniques for the situation, which can save time and prevent unnecessary damage.

Having gained access to sites that have security features, it may be necessary to disable security features, or position personnel to ensure access and egress routes are not compromised.

Security smoke (sometimes called security fog or smoke screen) is thermally generated white smoke used as a security measure. Security smoke machines may use glycol or glycerine mixed with distilled water to produce a dense white fog that obscures vision.

Where there are armed guards, fire and rescue service activity should always be carried out under escort and in accordance with pre-determined arrangements.

Personnel should follow any agreed method for maintaining access and egress at sites such as places of lawful detention to prevent becoming isolated. If personnel are not familiar with the security systems, it may be necessary to test overriding security features before gaining access. Methods of maintaining egress may include:

  • Keeping doors open by using dead bolts or specialist equipment
  • Not allowing lone working
  • Posting personnel to manage doors or security features
  • Overriding security features

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure that information about security features, and who to contact for information or assistance, is included in Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI)
  • Agree safe systems of work to maintain safe egress at sites with security features

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Identify security features that may compromise safe access to and egress from the scene of operations

  • Be aware of security systems and devices which could potentially isolate personnel in hazard areas

  • Follow agreed procedures for maintaining egress where security features are present

  • Attempt to contact the responsible person or security company to obtain information about security features and gain access
  • Obtain keys or key codes to gain access to secure areas, if appropriate
  • Consider overriding security features, using equipment or positioning personnel to maintain access and egress
  • Consider alternative access and egress points using ladders or aerial appliances

  • Consider gaining access or entry by force if security features cannot be disabled

  • Consider the effects of making entry or breaching security features of a site

  • Consider cutting roller shutters to gain access, remembering that some shutters may retract once cut
  • Consider seeking assistance for dealing with guard dogs from specialist animal handlers
  • Ensure personnel are aware of escorting arrangements where armed guards are present

  • Consider using ventilation and wearing respiratory protective equipment (RPE) if the building is fitted with a security smoke system