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by the NFCC

Control measure

Access and egress: Scaffolding

Control measure knowledge

Fire and rescue services may attend incidents involving scaffolding when there is no one on site or the security staff present have no information. Scaffolding is generally used to provide work platforms for the outside of the structure; where information on using scaffolding cannot be obtained, alternative means of access and egress should be established. This could be by using staircases that have been built inside the building or by using fire and rescue service ladders or aerial appliances. 

In some situations, there will be additional staircases, either on their own or as part of the scaffolding system, to provide sufficient means of escape for site staff. These may provide an option for gaining access or egress. 

If fire and rescue service personnel need to use construction site lifts, this must be subject to an appropriate risk assessment. This should include the integrity of the three-phase power supply and whether it can be maintained during the incident. Power may be mains electricity or provided by a generator. 

Specialist advice or assistance regarding the use of scaffolding staircases and lifts may be required from:

  • The scaffolding provider 
  • Local authority building control teams 
  • Structural engineers 
  • Urban search and rescue tactical advisers

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Make arrangements with appropriate agencies for the provision of advice or assistance regarding the use of scaffolding staircases and lifts

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider using fire and rescue service ladders or aerial appliances to provide access and egress without the use of scaffolding 

  • Determine whether there is a trained operator on-site and a manual procedure to safely lower trapped personnel in a timely manner – goods-only hoists should not be used for transporting personnel 

  • Identify access and egress routes from the internal staircases that may be inside a building with scaffolding