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 5 Strategic Role of Operational Guidance

Role of Operational Guidance

5.1 Fire and Rescue Authorities, and strategic managers within the Fire and Rescue Service, are responsible for ensuring their organisation and staff operates safely when dealing with incidents involving wildfires. Their legal duties and responsibilities are contained in Section 4 of this guidance.

5.2 This document provides the Fire and Rescue Service with guidance on developing and maintaining a consistent approach to managing, processing and using strategic and tactical operational risk information. This guidance is also relevant to national resilience and interoperability with other Fire and Rescue Services or emergency responders.

5.3 Fire and Rescue Services should continually assess the risk, in terms of the foreseeable likelihood and severity, of wildfire incidents occurring within their areas. This assessment should form part of their integrated risk management plan. The findings will help them ensure they have appropriate organisation, policy and procedures in place for dealing with wildfire incidents.

5.4 Current Fire and Rescue Service practices have been surveyed and used to develop this guidance. Fire and Rescue Authorities may wish to adopt some or all of the principles outlined within this guidance. However, the Scottish Government accepts no legal liability or responsibility whatsoever, howsoever arising, for the consequences of the use or misuse of this guidance.

Status of Operational Guidance

5.5 Operational Guidance does not in itself represent a legal duty on Fire and Rescue Authorities. However, it is seen as the sector benchmark standard for Fire and Rescue Services, and departure from it will require a risk assessed alternative, with supporting control measures, particularly in the event of an accident or injury.

5.6 How do strategic managers know if they are providing, at least, the minimum level of acceptable service or possibly meeting their 'duty of care'? The following principles may assist Strategic Managers when determining the level of acceptable service and whether they are meeting their duty of care:

  • operations must be legal and within the requirements of regulations
  • actions and decisions should be consistent with voluntary consensus
  • standards, and nationally recommended practices and procedures
  • actions and decisions to control a problem should have a technical foundation and be based on an appropriate risk assessment
  • actions and decisions must be ethical.

5.7 When responding to incidents involving wildfires the Fire and Rescue Service has strategic multi-agency responsibilities. These are additional, and in the main complimentary, to the specific fire and rescue functions that the Fire and Rescue Service performs at the scene. The strategic objective is to co-ordinate effective multi-agency activity in order to:

  • preserve and protect lives
  • mitigate and minimise the impact of an incident
  • protection of the environment
  • inform the public and maintain public confidence
  • prevent, deter and detect crime
  • assist an early return to normality (or as near to it as can be reasonably achieved).

5.8 Other important common strategic objectives flowing from these responsibilities are to:

  • participate in judicial, public, technical or other inquiries
  • evaluate the response and identify lessons to be learnt
  • participate in the restoration and recovery phases of a major incident.

Operational Guidance Review Protocols

5.9 This guidance will be subject to a review every 3 years.

The following circumstances may also require this guidance to be reviewed at an earlier stage:

  • Enactment of new or updated legislation.
  • As the result of an investigation.
  • Following reports of repeated or serious procedural queries/concerns resulting from exercises, training, incident reviews/feedback.
  • The issuing of an improvement notice by the HSE or other relevant enforcing body.
  • On advice of Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate for Scotland.
  • At any other time when any particular aspect of the current Guidance is considered invalid.

5.10 The Operational Guidance Programme Board may decide that a full or partial review is required within this period.


Email: Dean Cowper

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