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 6 Generic Risk Assessment/s (GRAs)


6.1 When attending a wildfire incident, Fire and Rescue Service personnel will be operating in a dynamic and sometimes hazardous environment.

6.2 This guidance presents a framework for a safe system of work for the management, and command and control, of wildfire incidents. It therefore, provides for a consistency of approach across FRSs and forms the basis for common operational practices, which will assist in supporting interoperability between FRSs, other Emergency Services, land management agencies and other partners. The drive toward common principles, practices and procedures supports the development of safer wildfire systems of work on the incident ground and enhances local, regional and national resilience.

6.3 This guidance should be read in conjunction with Fire and Rescue Service Operational Guidance - GRA 3.4 - Fighting Fires in Open Rural Areas (June 2011)[1].

6.4 Clearly, due to the complexity of wildfire incidents, there are a wide range of significant hazards and risks which need to be considered within both national and local GRAs. These may include, but not be limited to, environmental conditions, extreme fire indicators, terrain, fuel types, fuel loading, personal safety, manual handling and heavy physical work. It is incumbent upon individual FRSs to ensure that they are confident that their suites of safe systems of work, which are derived from their GRAs are relevant to their associated local wildfire risks.

6.5 The following risk assessment process steps[2] have been considered in the development of this guidance and should be further considered both by FRSs in the development of their own strategic risk assessment processes and in the operational environment by the Incident Commander.

The Risk Assessment Process

6.6 The five basic principles of all risk assessments are the same:

  1. Identify the hazards.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how.
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions - note that this might involve selection of the most appropriate breathing apparatus command and control procedures in relation to the task/s to be achieved within a given set of circumstances.
  4. Record the findings and implement them.
  5. Review the assessment and update if necessary.

6.7 The risk assessment process should include the actions below:

  • Determine the specific activities to be achieved.
  • Identify the hazards present should these activities be undertaken.
  • Identify both the likelihood of an injury occurring and its severity arising from exposure to each hazard (i.e. the risk).
  • Identify the extent of the resources required to complete all or selected elements/tasks of the overall operational plan.
  • Implement control measures to reduce the risk to a level that can be considered as low as is reasonably practicable, including the most appropriate for the task/s to be completed.

6.8 This approach provides for a framework for reducing risk to a tolerable level in relation to the task/s to be completed, which correlates to existing risk information, provides for a sound basis for the development of additional control measures (ALARP[3] principle), and is effective in helping FRSs to optimise safety at operational incidents.


Email: Dean Cowper

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