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by the NFCC

Control measure

Avoid entering the vehicle

Control measure knowledge

Entering an immersed, partially submerged or completely submerged vehicle can be extremely hazardous. Vehicles can suddenly shift with movement or an increase in depth of the surrounding water, ultimately trapping rescuers inside and causing physical injury.

A dynamic risk assessment should consider the window of opportunity for saveable life using safe working practices and competent personnel to carry out tasks. This may mean considering the speed of water flow and how quickly an area is becoming inundated, the depth of the water and the likely path of travel the vehicle may take if it were to move.

Personnel should avoid entering a submerged or partially submerged vehicle as this may affect its stability, potentially resulting in entrapment. The surface of a vehicle is likely to be extremely slippery and standing on vehicles is not recommended.

Leaning into a vehicle to assist a casualty whilst wearing automatically inflating life jackets should be avoided. If the device is activated whilst fully or partially in a vehicle, either by accidentally triggering the device or if sensors become submerged, the inflated life jacket may cause the responder to become trapped.

Casualties can be encouraged to self-extricate once appropriate control measures are established.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide appropriate means for assessing vehicles in water

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Avoid entering submerged or partially submerged vehicles