Skip to main content

Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Poorly managed incidents

Hazard Knowledge


Communication can be ineffective or fail when information is not shared at the right time or is not understood by the receiver. This can lead to:

  • Incorrect or inappropriate information being used to assess a situation, resulting in:
    • Poor individual situational awareness
    • Inconsistent shared situational awareness
    • A faulty perception of events unfolding
    • Wrong decisions being taken for the actual situation
  • Failure to co-ordinate team activities, causing task conflicts between personnel or other agencies
  • 'Freelancing' because of a breakdown in leadership and confidence
  • Increased risk of accidents because risk-critical information is not shared or understood

Throughout all aspects of communication, fire and rescue services and their employees need to be aware of the potential for misuse of information, and mindful of the legal requirements placed on them, by legislation such as the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

Spans of control

Unless spans of control are maintained at manageable levels, incident commanders may be overloaded with information, which may impact on:

  • Gaining effective situational awareness
  • Appropriate decision-making
  • Effective communication
  • Ability to maintain control of the incident

Cordon control

Cordon control may often be a multi-agency responsibility. However, the incident commander has a duty, so far as reasonably practicable in the context of operational requirements, to ensure that people are not put at risk by fire and rescue service activities. Also, if anybody may be exposed to serious and imminent danger, the incident commander has a duty to inform them of the hazards, and the control measures that are necessary to protect them.

Failure to fulfil these duties, or a lack of appropriate cordon control, may result in personnel, other emergency responders or members of the public gaining access to the hazard area, with its associated risks.