Skip to main content

Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Hazard

Rescue tools

Hazard Knowledge

In this guidance, the term 'tools' relates to different types of specialist rescue equipment such as:

  • Cutters
  • Rams
  • Spreaders
  • Combination tools
  • Reciprocating saws
  • Angle grinders
  • Disc cutters
  • Chisels

This list is not exhaustive and encompasses tools powered by manual, battery, pneumatic and hydraulic systems.

The hazards posed by tools may occur as a result of a malfunction, misuse or in normal use by the operator. These may include:

  • Noise
  • Muscular skeletal injuries
  • Projectiles
  • Impact injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Amputations
  • Sparks
  • High pressure liquids/hydraulic injections
  • Irrespirable exhaust gases
  • Dust / toxic particles
  • Corrosives
  • Toxic materials
  • Irritants
  • Flammable substances

For further information, see National Operational Guidance: Operations - Physical hazards and National Operational Guidance: Operations - Chemical hazards

It is reasonable to assume that all fire and rescue service equipment will be well-maintained and tested, and only used by trained operators. However, it is also reasonable to assume that a combination of advances in materials, ageing equipment and human error can all contribute towards safety events, which encourages further control measures.

Refer to the Extrication sections relating to vehicle construction for further information about composite materials, metals and other materials.

Although equipment is manufactured with safety features to prevent and protect against misuse or malfunctions, operators should still be aware of the varied materials being tackled and the energies involved, whether stored inside the structure or as part of the operation of the tool; high-pressure liquids and hydraulic injections for example.