Wildland fire-fighting PPE
A wildfire is defined as any uncontrolled vegetation fire where a decision or action is needed about its suppression.
A wildfire will meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Involves a geographical area of at least one hectare (10,000 square metres)
- Has a sustained flame length of more than 1.5 metres
- Requires a committed resource of at least four fire and rescue service appliances/resources
- Requires resources to be committed for at least six hours
- Presents a serious threat to life, environment, property and infrastructure
The level of wildfire risk is not evenly spread across the UK; it varies considerably between seasons and between different regions of the UK. The key factors influencing wildfire risk are the prevailing weather conditions, vegetation types and the local topography.
Wildfires can be particularly challenging incidents for fire and rescue services to deal with because of their erratic nature, their potential size, scale and intensity and because of the rural and rural-urban interface environments in which they tend to occur. Large wildfires can be very resource intensive and this can create challenges for fire and rescue services in maintaining operational resilience and emergency cover.
In 2013 the Scottish Government published the Wildfire Operational Guidance, highlighting that:
“The impact of such a high volume of wildfire events in such a short concentrated period presents obvious challenges to FRSs in responding to the wildfires whilst maintaining their ability to meet other emergency operational demands and manage operational budgets.”
In recognition of their potential impact, ‘severe wildfires’ were added to the National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies in 2013 and 2015. In 2013, the National Risk Register stated:
“While the impact of wildfires is relatively low compared with other emergencies, the location of severe wildfires could cause damage or disrupt transport and energy infrastructure (for example, roads, airports, pipelines and power lines), commercial property and homes and crops. They also result in air pollution from smoke and fumes and could contaminate water and habitats and pose a health and safety risk.”
Water Rescue PPE
The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2017 amends Article 2 of the Order to include a duty to prepare for and respond to flooding and rescues from inland waters. The Fire (Additional Function) (Scotland) Order 2005 and The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011, sets out a duty for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to prepare for and respond to serious flooding. This includes any flooding that causes or is likely to cause a person to die, be seriously injured or become seriously ill.
The management and engagement of national flood rescue assets in England and details of how agencies will respond to flooding are detailed in DEFRA’s Flood Rescue Concept of Operations.
The water rescue ensemble will be used in the training environment and by ‘water first responders’ (module/level 2 operatives) and ‘water rescue technicians’ (module/level 3 operatives) as defined by DEFRA.
Specification & Requirements.
USAR – Technical Rescue Clothing
The Government instigated the New Dimension programme soon after 9/11.
It was immediately recognised that multiple, large scale attacks on the UK would be difficult to cope with effectively by individual fire and rescue services and New Dimensions was intended to provide a range of equipment, people and procedures to allow a co-ordinated national response to catastrophic events of various types.
By providing these new skills UK fire services are becoming better prepared to deal with extreme situations and national support arrangements mean we will be better able to cope with the worst types of incident.
The host USAR fire services can use these assets along with their highly trained technicians as a resource to assist at incidents where their skills, equipment and procedures will help reach a successful and safe conclusion. There are 21 teams’ strategically located teams throughout England and Wales to deal with three simultaneous attacks wherever they occur.
USAR operations encompass the areas of rescue from collapse structures, elements of technical search, initial location, area stabilisation, intrusive search and extrication from confined spaces. Operations will take place in hostile, confined and hazardous environment, possibly over a period of several days.
|USAR - Ensemble|
|Two Piece Coverall|
|Water/Weather Protection Suit|
|USAR - Chainsaw PPE|
|USAR - Hot Gas Cutting PPE|
|USAR - Disaster Victim Identification PPE (Type 5/6 Coveralls as used during pandemic)|
Chemical Protective Clothing
The fire and rescue service responds to a wide range of incidents involving hazardous materials that have the potential to cause harm to firefighters, other responding agencies, the surrounding community, animals and the environment. They may be called specifically to deal with emergency spillages or releases, or they may encounter hazardous materials at fires and other emergency incidents.
Fire and rescue services (FRS) recognise that in line with the concept of the hierarchy of controls in risk management, personal protective equipment (PPE) forms the last line of defence for an individual working in a hazardous environment. Legislative requirements such as the Control of Asbestos Regulations require fire and rescue services to prevent or control the exposure of personnel and others to hazardous substances whilst at work.
However, when fire and rescue service personnel attend hazardous materials, there may be few alternatives to using PPE as a risk control, particularly when saving life or preventing damage to the environment. It is therefore vitally important that fire and rescue services understand the advantages and limitations of available PPE ensembles. This can only be achieved by understanding the performance standards and level of protection afforded by PPE ensembles.