Safe system of work: Approaching a transport network incident

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with Make a safe and controlled approach to the incident


Incidents affecting the transport network will present challenges to responding emergency services. Some incident types will benefit from pre-planning, for exampleestablishing the location of access and rendezvous points (RVPs). Transport network incidents may also occur in remote locations, which may present significant difficulties for access and communication.

The following elements may affect the ability to make a safe and controlled approach to a transport network incident:

  • Accuracy of the location – the information may be provided as a grid reference, but may be less accurate in the form of a last known location provided by a member of the public
  • Type of terrain – some types of terrain may be unsuitable for appliances; consideration should be given to alternative, perhaps longer, routes
  • Mode of transport wreckage – this may be obscuring or trapping casualties, may cause damage to emergency services vehicles and may need to be preserved for accident investigation purposes
  • People – those uninvolved with the incident, especially in large numbers, may restrict access to the incident
  • Casualties – may be injured, disorientated or confused, or may have wandered away from the incident; may also be vulnerable if obscured by the accident wreckage or if there is reduced visibility
  • Fuel spillages – may be obscured if there is reduced visibility or if the spillage has occurred away from the transport infrastructure
  • Animals – may be involved, either unconfined on a transport network or confined in a mode of transport

Rendezvous points (RVPs) and strategic holding areas (SHAs) should be identified and communicated, if not pre-planned.


Designated rendezvous points (RVPs) for responding emergency services attending a non-military aerodrome should be located around the site and included in the aerodrome emergency plan. These areas will be designated for emergency services only and should be kept clear at all times.

The facilities will vary depending on the size of the aerodrome, but may include:

  • Immediate access to airside areas via an access gate or equivalent
  • Designated parking areas for all emergency services
  • Shelter or control room facilities
  • Radio communications with the aerodrome fire service and air traffic control
  • Telephones
  • Detailed aerodrome crash maps and additional critical information
  • Aircraft hazard sheets and seating configuration for the aircraft that regularly use the aerodrome
  • Tabards and associated incident command facilities


Railway incidents may extend for some distance, with limited access points. This can have a significant effect on making a safe and controlled approach to the incident, with the required personnel and equipment.

When a fire control room becomes aware of a rail incident, they should contact the appropriate railway traffic control. It may be difficult to identify the exact location of the incident, especially if the caller reporting the incident is in an unfamiliar area or a remote location without any landmarks.

Information that may assist in locating a rail incident includes:

  • Numbers marked on:
    • Bridges
    • Tunnels
    • Signal gantries
    • Overhead line equipment supports
  • Mile marker posts, and sometimes quarter mile posts, alongside lines
  • Details of adjacent roads
  • Buildings or other landmarks
  • Main rail junctions
  • Level crossings

Network Rail uses Ordnance Survey National Grid references to identify locations; it may assist if fire and rescue services recognise these references.

Access points or emergency response locations are areas that can be used as a means of access for personnel and provide integrated facilities for fire and rescue service activity.

These locations may also incorporate evacuation facilities for members of the public, which are managed by the relevant infrastructure manager. They can vary greatly from basic access stairs to complex, purpose-built structures and may include:

  • Cross passages
  • Rail-managed evacuation rail vehicles
  • Rendezvous points (RVPs)
  • Access arrangements
  • Location plans
  • Water supplies
  • Communication facilities

The urgency of the situation should be assessed when determining the most appropriate method of accessing the rail infrastructure. Some fire and rescue services have obtained specialist vehicles for use at rail incidents to reduce access issues to specific infrastructure.

It will usually be preferable for personnel to gain access to the rail infrastructure via public areas, such as platforms, stations, stairways or purpose-built walkways.

If personnel need to use emergency response locations or access points which lead to an area where there is a hazard from rail vehicles or the infrastructure, appropriate control measures should be applied. Any signage should be considered as part of the risk assessment process.


Build-up of traffic being unable to leave the area can present significant difficulties for responding emergency vehicles; and fire and rescue services should consider dual approach procedures for incidents involving the road infrastructure.

If there are animals present, either on the roadway or in vehicles, consideration should be given to turning off all flashing lights and preventing the use of audible warning devices as soon as is practicable. Approach to these incidents should be slow, without any undue noise or visual stimuli as this may add to the distress of the animals and result in unpredictable behaviour. Approaching or passing any vehicles carrying animals should be carried out with caution to avoid distressing them. For further information see Incidents involving animals.


The approach to a dockside incident may be impaired by the presence of on-site vehicles and on-site machinery, including cranes.

When attending more remote incidents on waterways, for example rural rivers and canals, there may not be suitable roads for fire and rescue service vehicles to use. This may result in extended travel distances on foot.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions