Effective communication: Transport

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with Effective communication


Establishing effective communications at the scene will be vital in sharing situational awareness and co-ordinating a safe and effective emergency response plan. The availability of fixed communication systems will vary across the transport network and be dependent on the location of the incident.

On-aerodrome incidents

The use and compatibility of radio systems and technology is key to effective liaison at aerodrome incidents. However, personnel should be aware of the radio traffic demands between:

  • Aircraft pilots
  • Air traffic control (ATC)
  • Rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS) appliances and watch room
  • Aerodrome ground operation vehicles
  • Emergency services rendezvous points (RVPs)
  • Aerodrome manager
  • Aircraft engineers

Off-aerodrome incidents

The aerodrome emergency plan will contain details of the action to be taken in the case of aerodrome accidents occurring outside of the aerodrome boundaries.

Incident commanders need to be aware that pressures will be placed on the aerodrome fire manager if resources from the aerodrome rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS) are deployed off-site. This is because deployment away from the aerodrome will reduce the site’s ability to meet the required rescue and firefighting capability under the terms of the licence. The aerodrome will need to drop its operating category, resulting in flights being cancelled or diverted.

Rail Incidents

Incidents involving the rail network are likely to involve many emergency services and agencies. Communication should be established between all organisations involved, including:

  • British Transport Police
  • Network Rail
  • Train operating companies
  • Freight operating companies
  • Rail Accident Investigation Branch
  • Office of Rail and Road
  • Local authority liaison officers
  • Specialist rail units

Rail systems usually have a communications network linking control offices, stations, depots, most level crossings and signal boxes via trackside telephones. These can provide additional communication routes, although it will be necessary to ensure training provides understanding of appropriate use. Therefore, fire and rescue service operations should, whenever possible, communicate with infrastructure managers via the fire control room. Arrangements for the methods of effective communication should be identified in pre-planning.

Communication should be established and maintained to preserve scene safety. Particular consideration should be given to personnel entering tunnel environments, confined spaces or complex building structures inside stations.

Messages to fire control rooms, which may be subsequently relayed to the infrastructure manager, require accuracy in content and transmission. To assist the infrastructure manager in implementing safe systems of work, carrying out fire and rescue services operations and reducing risk, it is necessary to include details such as:

  • Whether people are on or near the railway
  • The location of the incident
  • The level of control required, and over which part of the infrastructure
  • The geographical area over which controls should be applied
  • What fire and rescue service activity will be carried out

Roadways incidents

Incidents on roadways often involve a multi-agency response, and may involve the closure of roads with traffic rerouting. As the geographical area involved may be extensive, effective communication should be established between all organisations involved, including:

  • Police
  • Highways agencies
  • Local authority liaison officers

Waterways incidents

Incidents involving waterways may involve many emergency services and agencies. Communication, which may be logistically challenging, should be established between all organisations involved, including:

  • Port or harbour authorities
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
  • Water rescue organisations

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions