Accurate record-keeping

Control Measure Knowledge

Comprehensive report writing is a key aspect of gathering information and intelligence at an incident. It is important that reports are accurate, clear and unbiased as they will support further research, formal investigations and statistical content.

Good record-keeping is particularly important in any investigation. Log books can be used for effective and methodical data gathering; this could take the form of a contemporaneous notebook that can be referred to when providing evidence in court. All personnel should be aware that they may be required to give statements.

Accurate records and statements may come from a number of sources, including:

  • Written logs made by the fire control room
  • Voice recording of critical messages or calls
  • Photographs or videos made by personnel
  • Security photographs or videos from on-site equipment or CCTV

As some security systems will overwrite recordings, there should not be a delay in obtaining copies of any photographs or videos.

Written reports can consist of:

  • Informal contemporaneous notes:
    • Made at the time of an incident or event, or as soon as practicable, while the facts of the situation are still fresh in the mind of the person making the record
    • Where operationally practicable, notes and records should be written in ink
    • Consider creating a permanent record of other notes, such as photographing breathing apparatus (BA) entry control boards
    • Notes have a legal significance in that they can capture more detail than a person may recall at a later date
  • Formally structured data gathering documents
    • Notes made on unofficial materials or papers should be transcribed onto an official form of record as soon as practicable after the event
    • The original form of the note must be retained and disclosed if required
  • Contemporaneous notebooks, as issued to officers
  • Sketch plans, diagrams and photographs:
    • Can include the layout of a building or compartment, positions of people, vehicles or sectors, and are considered to be equivalent to a written record or note

All types of records should be signed and dated by the person creating them to enable their use within a formal legal context if required.

Decision logs can also be used to maintain a record of decisions and rationale for actions. Recording evidential material and the processes followed can be very important for formal investigations.

Witness statements, including those of attending personnel, should be made. Fire and rescue services may decide to use a template approach to ensure witness statements form an objective and personal recollection of events, rather than opinions or unfounded conclusions. The names and location of witnesses should be obtained and recorded for interviews. It may be necessary or appropriate to start interviewing during an incident.

As part of the investigation process, personnel may be asked for witness statements which should be given as soon as possible. Debriefing of any incident may form part of the investigation and should be recorded.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions