Fire and rescue services are afforded the power to enter premises or a place, by force if necessary, or break into a vehicle without the consent of its owner or occupier. These actions are authorised where a fire has broken out, a road traffic collision or an emergency of another kind has occurred.
Gaining access or entry by force will invariably result in some degree of damage to property; to limit damage, personnel should consider different types of forcible entry methods. Fire and rescue services use many different types of forcible entry tools, ranging from basic cutting, prying and striking tools to sophisticated mechanical and hydraulic equipment.
A key factor for incident commanders to consider when undertaking forcible entry to any premises or site is the need to secure the premises after operations have ended. Although the security of premises is not the legal responsibility of the fire and rescue service, the incident commander should take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the site is left in a safe condition. Before making an entry to any premises, crews should be mindful of noting any points that may indicate evidence of criminal activity.
For further information, see: Fire and Rescues Services Act 2004 (or equivalent devolved legislation)