Hazard Bodies of water: Transport
Knowledge and understanding
|Bodies of water: Transport||
Understand all associated hazard knowledge
Fire and rescue service personnel need to understand the hazards associated with incidents involving waterways and those associated with vessels, docks, harbours and marinas. Transport waterways may be contaminated by fuels, biological waste and may contain subsurface hazards and debris. The hazards presented by cold deep water, underwater hazards and entrapment are pronounced at incidents involving transport waterways.
Locks and canals
A network of over 2,000 miles of canals and rivers are readily accessible in the UK for a variety of leisure activities and commercially for shipping goods and public transport. Incidents may occur in remote locations with limited or no vehicle access. Incidents can involve people in difficulty in a lock or a vessel that has capsized with a casualty inside.
When operating near to locks and canals, cordons should be in place to minimise the likelihood of falls from height due to wet, slippery lock edges and trip hazards and to keep members of the public away from the scene. Crews need to be aware of the hazards associated with cold deep water, contaminated water and underwater hazards from submerged debris.
Sluices and submerged pumps which have associated entrapment hazards can often form part of lock or be found nearby. Potential contamination exists from fuels, biological waste, litter and commercial debris.
Docks, harbours and marinas
Docks are often busy and hazardous places with, heavy machinery, confined spaces, sluices subsurface hazards and the movement of large vessels. Docks can also attract unauthorised access from members of the public, particularly during periods of warm weather. In addition to control measures when working near water consider the use of water safety craft.
See National Operational Guidance: Operations- Bodies of Water
Working docks and harbours have on-site machinery and equipment including cranes, derricks and vehicles that can present additional hazards, confined spaces, unprotected edges, sluices and mooring lines may also be present and should be considered during development of a tactical plan.
When dealing with an incident on board a vessel, attention should be given to all dockside hazards. Safety cordons, nominated safety officers and appropriate measures should be put in place where applicable. Boarding control should be implemented and specific boarding gangways set for access and egress.
It may be necessary to liaise with the port or harbour master and the owner or captain of any vessels to provide support to safely deal with an incident. Suspension of port, dock, harbour or marina infrastructure may affect the incident and safety of responders.
The pressure to load or unload a vessel’s cargo quickly to catch a tide or free up a wharf, can cause incidents and affect the behaviours of on-site personnel during an incident.
Urban development and regeneration of former dockland areas has led to residential housing and large restaurant, bars and club complexes being built close to large areas of open water.
HM Coastguard is responsible for co-ordinating search and rescue incidents in docks associated with tidal rivers, unless there is specific local agreement with police or harbourmasters.
Ports and harbours are influenced by a wide range of environmental factors including wind, visibility, channel depth, tidal and sea conditions. These will affect the fire and rescue service response at incidents.
Floating docks and pontoons found in small ports, harbours and boat marinas may pose access and egress hazards when attending incidents affected by tidal ranges. In addition, weather patterns can cause swell and passing craft produce waves, which will affect the stability of these working platforms.
Incidents involving vessels afloat during loading and/or unloading of cargo can present a pollution risk. Health risks to firefighters from chemical pollution and microorganisms, including bacteria, will need to be considered. The relevant environmental agencies are responsible for protecting the environment. In addition, other references to legal responsibility are included in the Water Industries Act of 1991 and the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Local Government Association and the environmental agencies on fire and rescue service issues is updated periodically to ensure effective co-operation between fire and rescue services and the environmental agencies. Its main aims are to minimise the hazard to the environment from fire and rescue service activities, including firefighting and hazardous materials incidents, and to encourage liaison and formulate preventative measures at the planning stage for special risk sites where there is the potential for pollution to occur.
The Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) oversees environmental protection at incidents. In general, marine pollutants can be jettisoned if necessary for the safety of the ship and its crew, but the Maritime Coastguard Agency must be immediately informed via the nearest coast radio station as outlined in the reporting procedures in the supplement to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code. Marine pollutants will carry the marine pollutant mark, and the ship and the agents will have a plan showing where they are stowed on board.
- Control measureAvoid manipulating or damaging vehicle safety systems
- Control measureDevelop knowledge of operating systems and terminology