Manage the radiation dose received by firefighters

Control Measure Knowledge

The radiation dose received by firefighters should be kept as low as reasonable practicable (known as ALARP). Exposure is reduced by managing these factors:

  • Time
  • Distance
  • Shielding

Fire and rescue services may or may not be required to intervene; in any case, a hazard/exclusion zone should be established. Any members of the public or personnel should be immediately withdrawn until specialist advice is available. The perimeter should be set where the background reading is consistent with the normal background reading for that location or where recommended by site-/incident-specific specialist advice.

Should no intervention be required, the cordon should be managed appropriately until such time as the scene can be handed over to the appropriate authority.

If an intervention is deemed necessary, anyone entering the hazard zone must be equipped with a personal dosimeter and each team should be equipped with a dose rate survey meter. To ensure exposure is minimised, the incident commander should:

  • Consider the location and type of the source (i.e. unsealed or sealed). An inventory and local rules should be available where radionuclides are held legally.
  • Consider the potential of damage to the source(s)​​​​​​
    • Does any packaging or shielding appear to have been damaged?
  • Make use of any transport index that may be available, whilst deploying monitoring equipment (The transport index is the maximum dose rate in micro Sieverts per hour divided by 10 when measured at one metre from the surface of the packaging)
  • Keep crews committed to the hazard zone to a minimum
  • Ensure each crew has one crew member dedicated to constantly monitoring the detection equipment – where the task can be performed by one crew member the minimum crew can remain at two
  • Ensure the person deploying the survey meter is competent in using fire and rescue service radiation monitoring equipment

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions