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by the NFCC

Incident information

  • Provide relevant information to the fire control room when requesting proportionate control of the railway

  • Use location markers, grid references, landmarks and local knowledge on fixed structures to confirm and communicate exact location of the transport incident with fire control and other responders 

  • Request advice and assistance from the responsible person regarding the most appropriate access for the rail infrastructure

  • Identify whether trains or trams are informed, run at caution, stopped or stopped and power off and isolated

  • Identify rail power systems and determine whether the line is electrified and involved in the incident

  • Ensure that a hazardous materials scene survey is carried out at the earliest opportunity

  • Ascertain the likely impact of people on emergency responders 

  • Establish effective communications with other emergency services and relevant people as soon as possible

  • Further incident information

    • Access risk information including emergency plans held at stations, signal boxes and other locations

    • Identify any limited clearance areas and take notice of warning signs relating to the rail infrastructure

    • Assess the impact of the incident on traffic management in the local and wider areas
    • Identify and communicate the speed and type of line, for example single or multi-directional

    • Identify utilities installed adjacent to railway lines and assess the impact on the incident and the safety of personnel

    • Investigate the scene looking for indicators of occupancy considering seating and standing capacities

    • Identify the presence and effectiveness of any on board or infrastructure fixed installations

    • Identify the status of ventilation systems, pressurised escape areas and intervention/access shafts

Resource information

  • Secure sufficient firefighting media to enable the fire to be fully extinguished
  • Establish and maintain contact with the rail infrastructure controller or Rail Incident Officer (RIO)

  • Confirm with fire control that required specialist resources and specialist advice have been requested or notified, such as police, ambulance or environmental agencies

  • Consider requesting specialist resources to transport personnel and equipment

  • Further resource information

    • Identify the safest access route, rendezvous points (RVPs) and marshalling areas, and communicate to all responders and the fire control room

    • Consider requesting specialist advice and resources for shoring

    • Develop and organise a water/media management strategy or nominate a water officer

Risk information

  • Moving rail stock

    • Identify the proportionate level of control over the railway

    • Brief crews that are moving around the rail infrastructure on Personal Track Safety guidelines

    • Consider trains may coast for considerable distances after power has been isolated

    • Establish a 3 metre exclusion zone until trains have been confirmed as stopped, power off and earthed

    • Seek assistance from the police or other relevant responder agency to secure a safe working area

  • Difficult access and egress

    • Consider the impact of stations, tunnels, sidings, depots and other rolling stock on incident response

    • Identify and communicate trackside hazards (e.g. power, utilities, biological materials, undergrowth)

    • Keep feet clear of track points that may move without warning

    • Consider the impact of the transport infrastructure on safe access and egress routes for fire and rescue service vehicles

    • Consider a range of means of accessing incident including the use of specialist vehicles
    • Consider using physical barriers to define routes and indicate the presence of hazards in reduced visibility
  • Fire and thermal radiation

    • Position vehicles anticipating fire development, thermal radiation, collapse, smoke and other hazards
    • Ensure that Firefighting PPE is worn in accordance with service risk assessment, procedures and training

    • Use the appropriate extinguishing method, media, techniques and equipment

    • Identify the presence and effectiveness of fixed installations and where appropriate, take control of their operation

  • Smoke and fire gases

    • Use visual observation of the weather and available meteorological information about current and forecast conditions to inform risk assessments and the incident plan

    • Consider using fine sprays or foam blankets to minimise airborne particulates

    • Ensure that all personnel wear the type of RPE identified by service risk assessments, procedures and training

    • Obtain advice from the hazardous materials adviser (HMA) on the size of any downwind protection zone

    • Assess impact of tunnel on smoke travel and identify location and effectiveness of exhaust vents

  • Fuel and rail power systems

    • Consider making electrical gloves available for personnel to use at incidents involving live electricity supply.

    • Request the use of short-circuiting (SCD) or earthing devices – to be used only by qualified personnel

    • Identify the presence and status of any Battery Electric Multiple Units

    • Establish a 3 metre exclusion zone until trains have been confirmed as stopped, power off and earthed

    • Consider additional risks presented by steam trains (Extreme temperatures, high pressure steam)

    • Request isolation of live power systems (infrastructure and on-board)

  • Vehicle construction and contents

    • Identify and communicate hazards relating to pressurised systems to all responders

    • Identify materials and systems used within a vehicle and communicate to all emergency responders

    • Identify the design and construction of the mode of transport, and the most appropriate tools for gaining access to it

    • Assess the weight of the object, its stability and its impact on the mode of transport and any casualties

    • Consider removing or stabilising vehicle contents if they are likely to hamper operations

  • Hazardous materials

    • Approach the vicinity of the incident cautiously and at slow speed, to minimise the risk of collisions

    • Identify whether the incident should be reclassified as a hazardous materials response
    • Ensure that appropriate inner and outer cordons are established and communicated following an assessment of risk to all people present

    • Identify and communicate any diesel, grease, asbestos, detonators and track welding powder

    • Identify potential sources of biological contamination (e.g. waste from sanitary conveniences)

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

  • Fire water run off

    • ARCHIVED - Consider seeking specialist advice from a HMA on remedial action for spillages and fire water run off

    • ARCHIVED - Request advice from appropriate environmental protection agencies

    • Apply a source, pathway, receptor model to control and reduce the risks of pollution

Powers, policies and procedures

  • Enter premises or a place, by force if necessary, without the consent of the owner or occupier of the premises: 
    • If they reasonably believe an emergency to have occurred
    • If they reasonably believe a fire to have broken out or to be about to break out
    • For the purpose of extinguishing or preventing the fire or protecting life or property
    • NB Does not apply to Crown property (including ministry of defence) and diplomatic or consular premises
    • NB The Master of the ship (or delegated officer) of a merchant vessel must give permission to board
Why? Expectations? Benefit vs Risk?


  • Extinguish the fire and eliminate all ignition sources

  • Maintain the safety of all personnel, other responders and the public

  • Save life and reduce harm

  • Further objectives

    • Secure the scene to ensure evidence is preserved for internal and external investigations

    • Use appropriate methods and equipment to contain polluting materials to minimise their impact on the environment

    • Promote community recovery and restore normal operations
    • Consider taking action to prevent a serious escalation of the incident

Tactical priorities

  • Confirm that Overhead Line Equipment is isolated and earthed prior to the use of firefighting jets

  • Establish a safe working environment for personnel and other emergency responders
  • Further tactical priorities

    • Protect surrounding environment and infrastructure from thermal radiation and fire spread

    • Consider preservation of evidence when planning, communicating and implementing tactics

    • Consider the welfare or shelter arrangements for people directly or indirectly affected by the incident

Operational tactics

  • Consider cutting away to access the seat of the fire, hidden voids and compartments
  • Consider the appropriate speed of intervention to limit fire development

  • Select an appropriate firefighting method (i.e. cooling, smothering, starving, interrupting)
  • Select appropriate firefighting media (e.g. water, foam, dry powder, CO2)

  • When evacuation is necessary, identify the number of people affected and develop a plan 

  • Further operational tactics

    • Establish and resource a casualty care point if required

    • Gain access to rail vehicles via doors, corridor connectors, and windows, or create an opening

    • Consider establishing a forward control point


  • Establish and maintain an incident ground communication plan considering other agencies and remote resources

  • Establish and maintain contact with the rail infrastructure controller or Rail Incident Officer (RIO)

  • Brief crews that are moving around the rail infrastructure on Personal Track Safety guidelines

  • Further communication

    • ARCHIVED - Ensure communication systems are effective in subsurface and tunnel environments

    • Establish a media liaison point and brief a nominated media liaison officer


  • Ensure that appropriate inner and outer cordons are established and controlled to maintain the safety of crews, other agencies and the public
  • Commit only minimum number of essential personnel to hazard area

  • Further control

    • Communicate the tactical withdrawal and emergency evacuation arrangements to all personnel

    • Consider establishing a forward control point

Incident closure and handover

  • Instigate and co-operate with post incident investigations where necessary

  • Ensure that hazards, potential hazards and control measures are identified when handing over responsibility for health and safety to the responsible person

  • Inform the responsible person when fire and rescue service activities are completed and all personnel are at a place of safety

  • Further incident closure and handover

    • Consider decontamination of personnel, PPE and equipment prior to redeployment

Additional information

Ian Moore
Mon, 08/30/2021 - 11:50