Control measure knowledge

Incident commanders should use situational awareness to identify chemical hazards at incidents. Exposure to chemicals could come from a range of sources including smoke and fire gases, foam concentrate, exhaust fumes, dusts, airborne fibres, petrol, diesel and other mineral oils.

It is vital to identify the type of chemical(s) and to adopt appropriate control measures. It may also be appropriate, and a requirement of the incident safety management, to seek further information or advice to manage any threats to firefighters effectively.

See The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

See National Operational Guidance: Hazardous materials

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Carry out strategic risk assessments to identify foreseeable hazards within their area and identify control measures that eliminate or reduce risk
  • Consider the provision of or access to engineering controls that can assist with manual handling tasks

  • Develop service policy and procedures for the acquisition, application and maintenance of operational competency

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Adopt 'STEP 1-2-3+: Safety Triggers for Emergency Personnel'

  • Identify any hazardous materials signage and other indicators as part of scene survey

  • Consider the likely presence of explosives, flammables, dusts, biological materials and health hazards

  • Identify whether the incident should be reclassified as a hazardous materials response
  • Remove unaffected chemicals from the hazard area if safe to do so
  • Consider mechanical isolation of leaks of chemicals, gas or vapour or contain spillages
  • Consider ventilating areas e.g. carbon monoxide
  • Wearing specialist PPE (e.g. gas tight suit/chemical protection coverall that reduce the exposure of personnel to the hazard)
All personnel should:
  • Comply with service protocols when handling substances that are hazardous to health