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Control measure
Establish and maintain situational awareness: Wildfires

Control measure knowledge

Situational awareness concerns the perception and understanding of a situation, and the anticipation of how the situation may develop.

Understanding the location, land use and occupancy will help incident commanders to make safe, informed decisions at wildfires.

Depending on the size and complexity of the incident, other emergency services may attend, making effective joint working critical for safety on the incident ground. Further information can be found in National Operational Guidance: Incident command and the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP), Joint Doctrine: The Interoperability Framework.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider developing wildfire fire plans
  • Make wildfire fire plans and Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI) available to attending personnel
  • Provide an effective communications network - see the LACES safety protocol

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Ensure that all personnel at the incident are situationally aware
  • Develop, monitor and continually update a tactical plan
  • Identify and monitor fire – location, size, intensity, direction and rate of firespread
  • Identify and monitor topography – aspect, slope, the position of fire on the slope, topographical hazards

  • Identify and monitor fuel – type, condition, moisture, arrangement
  • Identify and monitor weather – recent, current and predicted temperature, humidity, wind direction/speed

  • Identify presence and arrangement of ground fuels, smouldering fuels and aerial fuels

  • Identify any risk to life, property, heritage, ecological assets and livestock

  • Identify any quarries, bogs, marshes, shooting ranges, disused mines and barbed wire/electric fences

  • Identify the location of electrical hazards, pylons, wind farms, substations, pipelines and other utilities

  • Continually assess and review the developing incident
  • Consider the following sources of information throughout the incident:

    • Information as listed in the control measure knowledge for 'Refer to wildfire fire plans'
    • Weather forecasts (for example, from the Met Office, Hazard Manager, FireMet or portable weather stations)
    • Other agencies (e.g. environmental agencies, forestry organisations, national park authorities, etc.)
    • Utility companies
    • Local residents
  • Make contact with land owners, land managers, gamekeepers, countryside and national park rangers

  • Provide clear, concise and structured briefings to all personnel (refer to LACES safety protocol)

  • Clearly define access, egress and escape routes to personnel and confirm their understanding
  • Regularly communicate current situation and predicted fire behaviour and spread to all personnel