Assist rescue of people at risk: Fire survival guidance – building fire

Control Measure Knowledge

People who are directly affected by fire and unable to safely evacuate from a building, will need to be rescued by operational personnel. Operational personnel often use four phases in every search and rescue scenario as detailed in performing rescues, these are:

  • Locate
  • Access
  • Stabilise both the situation and any casualties
  • Transport – to a place of safety and definitive care

Fire control personnel can assist operational personnel with all stages of search and rescue. Throughout the call, fire control personnel should continually share all relevant information with operational personnel and other responding agencies, both prior to and when they are in attendance. This should include information about the incident, as well as the people at risk, to support a joint understanding of risk and to inform accurate situational awareness.

Fire control personnel share information to assist with the rescue of people aiming to reduce the amount of time people and operational personnel are in the hazard area, reducing the risk of harm. This information may lead to operational personnel requesting additional resources; however, this does not remove the discretion and professional judgement of dynamic mobilising applied by fire control personnel.  The following information should be gathered by fire control personnel. This information should be used to aid dynamic mobilising decisions and be shared with operational personnel and other responding agencies where appropriate:

  • Location of all people at risk, for example:
    • Flat or room number for buildings of multiple occupancy
    • Floor number Kitchen or first floor bedroom
  • A visual description of where the location is, for example:
    • Front left window when looking from the road at the front of the building
    • First room on the right at the top of the stairs
  • Age and number of people at risk
  • Condition and mobility of people
  • Access and egress information for the building including any issues, for example:
    • Access codes for the building
    • If the window is at the rear of the building
    • If there is a gate to gain access
  • Location of the fire and fire conditions people at risk are experiencing
  • Description of the smoke including:
    • How much smoke is in the room, for example, can they see across the room or can they see their hand at arm’s length
    • Colour of smoke
    • Where the smoke is coming from
  • Condition of the building, including any known risks such as hoarding

For large or complex buildings, consider the use of location services to identify the exact location of people within the building.

Depending on the situation the following advice to people at risk may prove useful in assisting the rescue:

  • Remain near to the window or against a wall
  • Use a visual aid, a torch or mobile phone light to identify the room you are in
  • Do not hide underneath any furniture or lock yourself in a room
  • If it is safe to do so, on arrival of operational personnel stand at the window and make yourself known by making noise, using visual aids or waving to them
  • On arrival of operational personnel, remain in your current location unless advised otherwise

This list is not exhaustive and the reasons why people were unable to evacuate should be considered as this may affect access and egress for operational personnel.

Situational awareness gained throughout the call should continually be reassessed for accuracy to ensure advice being given is relevant and up to date.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions