Control measure – Deployment of breathing apparatus wearers

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure is supported by the:

A suitable assessment of risk must be carried out prior to deployment of breathing apparatus (BA). This should be based on the required operational objectives and the information available.

For further information refer to Incident command – Ineffective safety management.

Specifically when deploying BA wearers, consideration should be given to the:

  • Requirement for BA operations
  • Safety and welfare of BA wearers
  • Emergency evacuation or tactical withdrawal for BA wearers
  • Requirement for appropriate BA emergency arrangements

The appropriate level of BA command and control procedures and safe systems of work should be used at all incidents where BA is deployed. The level of supervision should be based on the situation and circumstances of the incident. It should take the size and complexity of BA operations into consideration, along with the hazards and risks presented to BA wearers. These elements should be considered in conjunction with Incident command guidance.

BA should only be used on the instruction of, or with the authority of, the incident commander. Only the incident commander, operations commander or sector commander may nominate BA entry control operatives. The incident commander may delegate the authority to deploy BA wearers to operations commanders or sector commanders.

Personnel have the right to request BA for respiratory protection by informing the incident commander and BA entry control operative. Such requests should be considered as part of the normal risk management process. The appropriate BA entry control procedures should be initiated while personnel put on BA.

Procedures for briefing and debriefing BA wearers and BA teams are critical to establish safe systems of work and maintain firefighter safety. Comprehensive and effective briefing and debriefing of BA teams should take place every time and recorded when BA wearers are deployed.

Appropriate systems and processes for logging and recording all relevant BA-related command and control information and decisions should be established prior to deploying BA wearers.

The fire control room should be kept informed about the deployment of BA wearers, teams and guidelines. This should include any BA-related activity, such as re-entry, emergency evacuation or tactical withdrawal.

Appropriate and resilient methods of communication should be available at all times to ensure the effectiveness and safety of BA wearers. Communication is essential between the BA entry control points, BA wearers and command support, if established.

Appropriate firefighting equipment should be provided whenever BA teams are committed to a hazard area involving fire or a flammable atmosphere.

Deployment of a single BA wearer

It may be appropriate to deploy a single BA wearer to carry out a specific task, providing the procedures for deploying a single BA wearer are followed. Stage 1 BA entry control procedures apply when deploying a single BA wearer.

Re-entry of a BA team into the hazard area

After a BA team has withdrawn, reported to the BA entry control point and closed down their sets, it may be necessary for them to re-enter the hazard area to perform a specific task. Re-entry should only take place for a limited and defined period to achieve a specific task, within the physiological and psychological capabilities of the BA wearers in the team.

Breathing apparatus guidelines

The deployment of breathing apparatus guidelines should be based on an appropriate risk assessment and in accordance with the incident plan. The incident commander should consider using alternative or simultaneous tactics to assist operations and enhance firefighter safety. These may include adopting tactical ventilation techniques or additional access points.

Whenever guidelines are in use, stage 2 BA entry control procedures should be implemented for the whole incident. The use of guidelines should be regularly reviewed, and all relevant personnel should be informed that they are in use.

Additional BA support teams should be deployed in conjunction with BA guideline laying teams.

Guidelines should be stored, maintained and tested in accordance with the advice of the manufacturer. If not correctly stored, this could result in guidelines being paid out incorrectly or being in an unsafe condition.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions