Emergency response plans

Control Measure Knowledge

The Civil Contingencies Act (CCA) places a responsibility on Category 1 responders to produce and have in place emergency response plans, which may include procedures for determining whether an emergency has occurred.

There is a national framework for managing emergency response and recovery, irrespective of the size, nature and cause of an emergency. It also identifies the various tiers of single and multi-agency management, defining the relationship between them and a common framework within which individual agencies can develop their own plans and procedures.

For further information refer to:

When developing emergency response plans a wide-range of factors should be considered, including:

  • Anticipation, by horizon scanning for risks and potential emergencies
  • Preparedness, by having a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities and how they fit into the wider, multi-agency picture
  • Managing operations and making decisions at the lowest appropriate level
  • Establishing a clear and unambiguous strategic aim and objectives
  • Putting in place information management and appropriate preparatory measures to build situational awareness
  • Developing a Common Recognised Information Picture (CRIP), a single, authoritative strategic overview of an emergency or crisis that is developed according to a standard template and is intended for briefing and decision-support purposes
  • Integration, by having multi-agency involvement, roles and prominence
  • Co-operation, by supporting inclusive decision-making processes, openness and mutual trust
  • Continuity, through using established experience, expertise, resources and relationships to manage and respond to emergencies

Pre-planning and liaison should aim to:

  • Improve operational capabilities
  • Develop more inclusive policies, procedures and terminology
  • Deliver multi-agency plans for managing the foreseeable risks identified in:

Intraoperability and interoperability

The fire and rescue national frameworks state that fire and rescue services should collaborate with other fire and rescue services, other emergency services, wider Category 1 and Category 2 responders and local emergency planning groups, to achieve intraoperability and interoperability. Further information is provided in the JESIP publication, Joint Doctrine: the interoperability framework.

Collaboration can be supported by having common or compatible:

  • Communication systems
  • Equipment
  • Command and control structure
  • Co-ordination arrangements

Prepare, test and exercise emergency response plans

The development of emergency response plans with specialist advisers, other agencies and operational personnel should focus the content of the plans to:

  • Identify key objectives
  • Identify options
  • Provide tactics
  • Ensure multi-agency agreement

All plans should be tested and exercised in accordance with the enforcing authority’s requirements, which should be proportionate to the identified risks. Plans should be reviewed and updated at appropriate intervals, and following any learning events or exercises.

Fire and rescue services should be involved in preparing, testing and exercising emergency response plans in relation to any legislative requirements, such as the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations. There should also be a training and exercising strategy for significant hazardous materials sites, as it is particularly important that plans for high-hazard sites do not have conflicts between agencies.

Sharing information

Information is critical to emergency response and recovery, including mobilising and operational activity. Sharing information, intelligence and data effectively is key to collaboration, ensuring an effective and co-ordinated response to foreseeable risks and emergencies. However, maintaining the flow of information between agencies, with partners, and to the public, can be extremely challenging under emergency conditions.

Effective information management depends on the appropriate preparatory measures being in place to build situational awareness and on developing a Common Recognised Information Picture (CRIP) at the local, regional and national levels if appropriate. Such measures will need to support:

  • Transmitting and collating potentially high volumes of information from multiple sources
  • Assessing collated information to ensure its relevance, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility, interpretability and transparency
  • Translating available information into appropriate information products; for example to:
    • Brief the Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG) or national groups
    • Release it to the media for public information

Some of the challenges that may need to be addressed in collating, assessing, validating and distributing information under emergency conditions include:

  • Information management procedures varying between agencies
  • Differing perspectives on the event or situation
  • Mistakes or misunderstandings occurring under pressure
  • Overloaded communications

Fire and rescue services should work with other agencies to establish efficient information management systems and embed their use in multi-agency emergency management arrangements. Information should be shared in a way that is responsive to the needs of emergency responders, including control room personnel, and is compliant with legislation relating to information security. Information should also be compliant with the Government Security Classifications.

The information needs and arrangements of each agency should be thoroughly understood and tested, through the use of pre-planning, and establishing protocols that can be implemented during an emergency.

Using common terms and symbols

A common standard for terms and symbols is critical to effective intraoperability and interoperability. The use of terminology unique to a single agency is likely to reduce the benefits of intraoperability or interoperability, and may reduce the level of co-operation and co-ordination locally, regionally or nationally. This may also apply to concepts of operation, memoranda of understanding or other agreements.

Terms and definitions should wherever possible be drawn from national standards and publications, rather than local initiative and invention. For further information refer to:

Strategic Actions