Technology aside, comprehensive knowledge of a station's local area can significantly contribute to successful and efficient incident outcomes. Fire and rescue service personnel should endeavour to learn as much as possible about major hazards in the area so they are aware of the risks they may face if they are called to attend an incident and any precautions they should take.
The ability to read maps/street atlases may be key to locating an incident. Appliance drivers should have a good understanding of local road networks and be able to anticipate the effect that the incident may have on approach routes. Other local factors may affect attendance times, for example:
- local events
- activities affecting the roads
- large numbers of members of the public may be congregated
- knowledge of road traffic pinch-points
- smoke from the incident obscuring driver's vision
- flooding making road impassable
In rural areas, firefighters should have an awareness of accessible farm tracks and the extent to which they can be used to reach isolated incidents. They should know the make-up of open land and susceptible areas, including sites of special scientific interest and they should keep themselves posted, as far as possible, about changes in road conditions due to the weather.