If possible, ecological and heritage assets should not be disturbed by fire and rescue service operations. The potential negative impact on ecological and heritage assets should be taken into account when developing a tactical plan, with any physical damage minimised.
Defined paths and tracks
Nature conservation sites often have defined paths and tracks, usually located away from protected areas that are most susceptible to physical environmental damage. If present, these defined paths and tracks should be used, once it has been established that they are suitable for fire and rescue service use, including access for vehicles.
To protect areas that are susceptible to physical environmental damage, personnel and other emergency responders should be advised about which routes, paths and tracks should be used.
Control point sites
Sites used as rendezvous points (RVPs), forward command points (FCPs), equipment storage areas or tool dumps should be located away from areas susceptible to physical environmental damage.
Fire and rescue service activity
It may be appropriate to establish exclusion zones to protect ecological and heritage assets from fire and rescue service activity.
Consideration should be given to the containment or redirection of polluting materials, including fire water run-off, that could damage sensitive sites.
Liaison with relevant parties
Pre-planning has a significant role in enabling the effective protection of ecological and heritage assets during an incident. If this is carried out with the relevant land owners, land managers or nature conservation bodies, it should help to identify any potential hazards to ecological and heritage assets. Multi-agency groups can help fire and rescue services to determine the most effective strategies and tactics to minimise the environmental impact of incidents on ecological and heritage assets.
Operational risk plans
Knowledge and identification of the most sensitive sites is an important factor in reducing physical environmental damage to those areas.
Each site will have its own environmental damage risks, which can be captured in individual operational risk plans. Where appropriate these plans should include:
- Environmentally safe areas for deployments and movements of fire and rescue service resources
- Identification of areas that are susceptible to physical environmental damage
However, a set of generic action plans will also help to identify common environmental protection activity to be taken in the early stages of an incident. For more information refer to Foundation for environmental protection – Pollution intervention planning.