Situational awareness: Fire survival guidance – building fire

Control Measure Knowledge

Situational awareness will support fire control personnel to identify the hazards and risks associated with the incident. This will enable them to share risk-critical information with operational personnel and other responding agencies, provide appropriate fire survival guidance (FSG), and react dynamically if the incident or the situation of the people at risk changes.

Situational awareness can be gathered from:

  • Questioning callers
  • Occupant and premises risk information for example Site Specific Risk Information (SSRI)
  • Risk information shared by other agencies
  • Situational updates from operational personnel and other responding agencies
  • Visual footage or images

Known risk information may not be accurate, therefore appropriate assessment and questioning should be carried out to determine if identified hazards and risks still apply, and if there are any additional factors to consider.

There are several factors which may affect the advice given to callers by fire control personnel, as well as the ability for operational personnel to rescue people at risk. These include:

  • The immediate threat to people at risk, for example:
    • The location of the fire in relation to their location
    • The effects of the fire they are being exposed to, for example flames, heat or smoke
    • The severity of the effects of fire they are being exposed to
  • The condition, number and ability of people at risk, for example:
    • Existing illness, condition or physical injury preventing them from leaving safely
    • Disorientation or unconsciousness
    • Being non-ambulant
  • The condition and structure of the building, for example:
    • The type of building
    • Hoarding or fire loading in the building
    • Effects of the fire compromising the structure of the building
    • Location of windows and doors
    • Layout of the building
  • The location of the nearest resources

To ensure there is joint understanding of risk, relevant information gathered should be shared with operational personnel and other responding agencies.

Due to the dynamically changing situation, and potential escalation of the fire, it is vital that information gathered is continually reviewed for accuracy.

A change in situation may affect the ability of operational personnel to rescue people at risk or mean that people at risk are in imminent danger. In these circumstances people at risk may be required to evacuate immediately. This could be due to:

  • Firespread and smoke travel
  • Potential flashover or backdraught
  • Signs and symptoms of fire gas ignition
  • Signs and symptoms of building failure
  • Physical condition of people at risk

Any change in advice being given to the caller or the fire situation should be communicated to operational personnel and responding agencies immediately.

If possible, a method of contact should be maintained with the caller until people at risk have reached a place of safety or are in the care of operational personnel. This contact will ensure that FSG can continue to be given, regular re-evaluation of the incident and the caller’s situation continues throughout, and that any change of advice can be passed on to people at risk. If a call is disconnected fire control personnel should attempt to re-contact the caller where necessary. The recontacting of callers should not put the caller at any additional risk. If contact is unable to be maintained, consider informing operational personnel.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions