Control measure knowledge

The fire and rescue service may be able to gain access via codes or keys for sites with security features. The responsible person, or a security company, should be contacted to assist with gaining access.

If it is not possible to deactivate the security feature, it may be necessary to make a forcible entry. The type of building construction, possible entry points and the security features present should be assessed. This will assist with selecting the most appropriate equipment and techniques for the situation, which can save time and prevent unnecessary damage.

For further information about forcible entry see National Operational Guidance: Fires and firefighting.

Having gained access to sites that have security features, it may be necessary to disable security features, or position personnel to ensure access and egress routes are not compromised.

Security smoke (sometimes called security fog or smoke screen) is thermally generated white smoke specifically used as a security measure. Security smoke machines may use glycol or glycerine mixed with distilled water to produce a dense white fog that obscures vision.

Where there are armed guards, fire and rescue service activity will be carried out under escort and in accordance with pre-determined arrangements.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure that information about security features, and who to contact for information or assistance, is included in Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI)

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Identify security features that may compromise safe access to and egress from the scene of operations

  • Be aware of security systems and devices which could potentially isolate personnel in risk areas

  • Attempt to contact the responsible person or security company to obtain information about security features and gain access
  • Obtain keys or key codes to gain access to secure areas, if appropriate
  • Consider overriding security features, using equipment or positioning personnel to maintain access and egress
  • Consider alterative access and egress points using ladders or aerial appliances
  • Consider using forcible entry if security features cannot be disabled - see National Operational Guidance: Fires and firefighting

  • Consider cutting roller shutters to gain access, remembering that some shutters may retract once cut
  • Consider seeking assistance for dealing with guard dogs from specialist animal handlers
  • Ensure fire and rescue service personnel are aware of escorting arrangements where armed guards are present
  • Consider using ventilation and wearing respiratory protective equipment (RPE) if the building is fitted with a security smoke system