Joint working: Aerodrome rescue and fire fighting service

Control Measure Knowledge

Under the enabling fire and rescue acts, responsibility for the incident lies with the local authority fire and rescue service. However, in practical terms the aerodrome rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS) should have more specialist expertise in fighting aerodrome fires than the fire and rescue service.

Early liaison between the fire and rescue service and the aerodrome RFFS is essential to gain a full understanding of the incident, ensuring tactical advisers are used, and in concluding the incident successfully.

Each fire and rescue service should have an agreement with the RFFS in their respective aerodromes about who should lead on an incident. There should be a clear expectation of initial actions by the RFFS and the fire and rescue service, which can be reinforced through joint training and exercises.

Arrangements for mutual aid for aircraft or other incidents provide a focus for both the RFFS and responding agencies to plan for an emergency. The planning will normally be a part of the civil contingencies structure or local arrangements to ensure an effective response. Such agreements should include incident command procedures and handover protocols.

The two incident commanders should establish joint working to ensure the incident is managed safely and efficiently, appropriately using the specialist advice or equipment available from the RFFS. If the equipment of the RFFS is to be used by the fire and rescue service, it is important to ensure personnel have sufficient competence to do so.

Further information about the RFFS and its activities can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website: Rescue and fire fighting service toolkit. This includes an information paper: Information on the issues to be considered in mutual aid arrangements and emergency planning (civil contingencies).

The RFFS have specialist firefighting vehicles that may hold:

  • Large volumes of extinguishing agents
  • Evacuation steps
  • Medical equipment
  • Fuel spill kits
  • Aerial platforms
  • Water rescue equipment, such as boat

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions