Deploy adequate personnel and resources: Water search and rescue

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with Deploy adequate personnel and resources: Rescues


To reduce the likelihood of personnel being exposed to incidents where they are unable to act, fire and rescue services should gather information, appropriately screen calls and deploy adequately trained personnel. This should result in the most appropriate resources being mobilised.

Personnel should be sufficiently informed on the hazards that may exist, as well as the length of time a casualty has been submerged. Additionally, personnel should be aware of the limitations of their competence and equipment in the environment they are operating in.

The capabilities and the expected agreed extent of the interventions of personnel should be understood in the context of the approved rescue techniques trained for and adopted by the fire and rescue service. Teams should not operate in a way that they are not equipped and trained for.

Establishing a predetermined attendance for water rescues may be necessary, to ensure a swift and appropriate response to these incidents.

If personnel identify the need for an advanced resource to perform a water rescue, they should request specialist resources. This may be due to limitations in their own training, knowledge, skills or equipment.

Individual identification

The use of standard and agreed methods of individual identification during a water rescue will support:

  • Determining the capability of emergency responders
  • Distinguishing roles and responsibilities on the incident ground
  • More effective and efficient incident ground management
  • Appropriate deployment of personnel.

The provides:

  • The accepted form of Individual identification through the use of colour-coded helmets and lighting (page 38)
  • The equipment applicable to each level of water rescue response (Annex E)

Emergency teams

In addition to appropriate downstream safety systems, consideration should be given to deploying emergency teams to carry out the rescue of personnel who are committed into a hazard area. Competent personnel should be equipped for immediate deployment with adequate equipment to perform a rescue; this could include the use of appropriate watercraft. For more information refer to Initiate firefighter emergency: Water rescue.

Water awareness

All personnel who are likely to be exposed to bodies of water, regardless of their level of competence, need to be aware of the hazards and risks that may be present. They also need to be aware of the hazards and risks associated with a water rescue.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions