Fire and Rescue Service Wildfire Operational Guidance

This guidance has been produced to give fire and rescue service personnel an additional understanding and awareness of the phenomenon of wildfire. It examines the hazards, risks and controls relating to Fire and Rescue Service personnel, the personnel of other agencies and members of the public at Incidents of wildfire. It also provides a point of reference for those who may be called upon to plan for wildfire events and for those incident commanders and personnel responding to such incidents.

Section 7 Key Principles


7.1 This chapter seeks to establish a number of key principles which are contained within the guidance, and, which if adopted will enhance the FRSs wildfire pre-planning, response and resilience of their service.

7.2 FRSs should make an assessment of whether the key principles are applicable to their own circumstances and should ensure local wildfire risk assessments and standard operating procedures (SOP) have been formulated following consideration of guidance contents.

Key Principles

1. There is a need to provide a risk assessed, suitable and sufficient safe system of work to protect firefighters, and external partner agency personnel, deployed to wildfire incidents.

2. It is essential that Fire and Rescue Service and external agency personnel responding to a wildfire event have an understanding and awareness of wildfire behaviour and development.

3. There is a need to provide guidance on standardised safe systems of work in order that personnel attending wildfire incidents may work safely across Fire and Rescue Authority boundaries, with personnel from land management agencies and organisations, and, where appropriate, other emergency services and the military.

4. The LACES protocol should be adopted by FRSs attending any wildfire event. (LACES - Lookouts; Awareness; Communications; Escape Routes; Safety Zones). (See Section 8 Part B7)

5. Fire and Rescue Services should ensure that effective liaison with land management agencies and appropriate partners is undertaken to assist in the development of local fire plans, mutual aid support arrangements and resilient safe systems of work.

6. Such an approach will support environmental protection awareness and enhance operational interoperability and local, regional and national resilience.

7. FRSs should utilise the principles of the Wildfire Prediction System (WPS) to ensure, as far as reasonably possible, that the correct personnel and resources are deployed to the correct locations, at the right time, to maximise the available opportunities to manage and suppress a wildfire incident. (See Section 8 Part B6)

8. FRSs should consider utilising indirect, as well as direct, wildfire suppression tactics as a potentially more effective and appropriate, and at times safer, means of dealing with a wildfire incident.

9. The appropriate level of wildfire Command and Control supervision and Safe Systems of Work, as outlined within this Guidance, must be followed at all wildfire incidents being responded to.

10. Incident Command System (ICS) principles and practices must be adhered to at all times [1], although these should be applied in the context of a dynamic, geo-spatial incident.

11. Suitable and sufficient briefing and debriefing of wildfire teams is critical to the effectiveness and safety of fire service operations, the establishment of a safe system of work and firefighter, and external agency, safety. Full and effective briefing and debriefing of wildfire teams should therefore, be undertaken on every occasion that a wildfire incident is responded to. (See Section 8 Part B7)

12. Good communications between the Incident/Sector Commander, wildfire team leader(s), the safety officer(s), Tactical Lookout, and, Command Support are also essential to the effectiveness and safety of wildfire teams and external agency personnel. Accordingly, suitable, sufficient and resilient means of communications should be established and maintained at all times.

13. Wildfire is an incident type which requires the adoption of a situational awareness process and the application of continual analytical risk assessment to ensure the safety of personnel and a satisfactory conclusion to the incident. (See Section 8 Part B7)

14. All personnel assuming a role connected with operating within a wildfire suppression response team must be competent to undertake that role.

15. A robust and resilient decision-making log and analytical risk assessment (ARA) must be maintained throughout the duration of the incident.

16. FRSs should begin to adopt the terminology contained within this guidance and the accompanying Glossary. This will improve communication and safety at a wildfire event; avoid confusion and ambiguity and enhance interoperability and resilience.


Email: Dean Cowper

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