NFCC Operational Guidance FAQs


Do you have any assistive technologies in place to help with accessibility?

Yes, we have developed the website to meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards and have installed ReachDesk to provide the speech, reading and translation support tools you require. Check out our Accessibility page for more information on how this tool works.

What is ReachDeck?

ReachDeck adds speech, reading, and translation support tools to websites.  ReachDeck makes online content more accessible for people with Dyslexia, Low Literacy, English as a Second Language, and those with mild visual impairments.

Features include:

  • Dual-colour highlighting
  • Text magnification
  • Translation
  • MP3 maker
  • Screen masking
  • Pronunciation modifier
  • Secure site reading
  • PDF reading
  • International languages

How do I get ReachDeck?

Click on the ReachDeck image in the bottom left of this website to launch ReachDeck.

Can I copy and share the information, diagrams and content of the website?

Yes, you can copy and use most of the website content you have access to. However, please be aware that the content could be updated at any time, so as soon you copy or print content it is potentially out of date.

Be sure to bookmark items of interest to your login profile to ensure you are always kept up to date with any changes.

Content and icons can freely be used, but prior approval is required if you wish to copy or use our organisational logos. This includes, but is not limited to, the NFCC logo, National Operational Guidance logo and National Operational Learning logo. This is to avoid giving the impression that local resources have been approved by the NFCC or have gone through our national level governance and quality assurance processes.

Operational Guidance

What is Operational Guidance and why do we need it?

Operational Guidance is the foundation for developing operational policies, procedures and training for personnel to deal with incidents effectively and safely. It is ‘industry good practice’ for everybody in fire and rescue services to draw on.

It can be adopted across the UK and is available for individual fire and rescue services to consider its implications on their own policies, procedures and training. Some of the guidance may not be relevant to all fire and rescue services as this will depend on the range and scope of services the fire authority has agreed to provide, usually through its risk management plan.

As its name suggests, Operational Guidance is:

Operational: Operational Guidance only applies to working practices at operational incidents, although there is a section on corporate guidance for operational activity. It does not cover other corporate policy guidance, equipment, technical notes or fire safety. It describes the hazards that may be encountered at incidents, and details the activities and control measures that may need to be used to control or mitigate those hazards. The control measures describe what should be considered and included in each fire and rescue service’s operational policies (strategic actions). It also includes possible actions for operational personnel and incident commanders to consider using (tactical actions). This informs each service’s operational policies, procedures and training, bringing consistency across the UK.

Guidance: It builds on the legacy of previously adopted guidance and includes the most up-to-date thinking from subject matter experts from both inside and outside of the fire and rescue service.

Each fire and rescue service is obliged to carry out its own risk assessments and identify appropriate control measures to protect its employees and communities. The risks across different services are often very similar or identical.

National work to identify hazards and control measures closely aligns to local risks and complete adoption of Operational Guidance will often be possible. Having a national, high quality product to draw on improves the quality of service delivery and saves a lot of time and money when different services are doing broadly the same thing.

It is also much clearer to those outside the service, including coroners or those responsible for public inquiries, that the service has a sound body of intelligence and good practice on which its activities are based. They will base their expectations of the service on Operational Guidance and will expect it to have been appropriately considered.

How is Operational Guidance structured?

The Operational Guidance structure is based on the types of activities or incidents:

Image showing the Operational Guidance structure

What about guidance for fire control rooms?

There is separate Fire Control Guidance for the hazards that fire control personnel encounter, and the control measures that can be used to deal with or mitigate those hazards. This guidance can inform fire and rescue service policies, procedures and training.

The Fire Control Guidance has its own structure:

Image showing the Fire Control Guidance structure


How do fire and rescue services record their actions to align with Operational Guidance?

A digital and dynamic strategic gap analysis tool is available to all services. This can be used by fire and rescue services to record their actions.

What will happen to old guidance now we have Operational Guidance?

The previous guidance, including manuals, Home Office publications, generic risk assessments, letters to chief fire officers, information bulletins and other documents are now classed as ‘legacy guidance’ and can still be accessed on this website.

Operational Guidance includes relevant material taken from the legacy catalogue. There is still a great deal of residual material that remains useful but is not appropriate for Operational Guidance and there is other material that can be archived or deleted.

What is a scenario and how do I use it?

A scenario is a compilation of tactical actions from Operational Guidance relevant to a specific, or a number of similar incident types.  Scenarios are structured to support the decision-making process of incident commanders.  They are not intended to be a step-by-step instruction manual, replace local procedures or provide all the underpinning knowledge required by incident commanders.  Scenarios are aimed at supporting incident commanders regardless of their duty system, development and experience.

Tactical actions provide prompts for incident commanders to consider activities, hazards and control measures from Operational Guidance.  All of the tactical actions will be linked to the knowledge about that activity, hazard or control measure in the Operational Guidance.

Scenarios are based on good practice and developed in consultation with every fire and rescue service in the UK.  As lessons are learned from operational incidents guidance will be updated and any changes will be reflected in scenarios.

Scenarios can be used in any environment where components of Operational Guidance might be applied to an incident.
These might include:

  • Initial firefighter and incident commander training
  • Continuing maintenance, development and assessment
  • Support caller interrogation by fire control
  • Influence decision making at operational incidents
  • Operational assurance and monitoring
  • Development of incident plans for specific sites

Was the development of scenarios influenced by incident command psychology research findings?

In dynamic situations incident commanders do not follow a linear decision-making sequence; research in this area resulted in the development of the Decision Control Process.  At some incidents, it may be practical to take actions without full situational awareness or having a plan for the resolution of the whole incident.

The scenario headings are structured around the Decision Control Process and draw on elements from the Joint Decision Model and Operational Guidance.  This approach embeds the use of the Decision Control Process and JESIP in training and operations.

Scenarios are not intended to be viewed as a linear document and when viewed on this website, information can be accessed independently through any of the section headings.

A tactical action should be written in plain language, using active voice, and feature the key information at the beginning. They should include enough information to be clear and unambiguous about the intended meaning.

Scenarios are broken down into sections to keep the amount of information presented in line with an average person’s working memory.  Too much information can overload an incident commander and result in critical information being forgotten. The aim is to keep each list of tactical actions around 5 to 9 points.

What are training specifications and how do they link to Operational Guidance?

The training specifications allow trainers to create, commission and deliver training, which will assist organisations and individuals to implement the Operational Guidance through training.

The training specifications bridge the gap between the Operational Guidance and training delivery. Together, these define the requirements for operational training and they have been mapped against the National Occupational Standards to provide a clear and comprehensive foundation.

The training specifications are not prescriptive, but do provide the content and syllabus for training delivery. The flexibility allows fire and rescue services and other organisations to align their training arrangements so that training can be delivered in a method most appropriate for their employees.

The training specifications are designed to provide learning outcomes for knowledge and understanding and practical application. This knowledge and understanding is based on hazard knowledge and control measure knowledge, while the practical applications are based on tactical actions.

How can you help services to implement Operational Guidance?

The Implementation Support Team can support services to implement and embed the Operational Guidance. The team has developed an easy to use model and process that reflects best practice for implementation of the guidance and also provides an ideal opportunity for both regional and national collaboration. The Implementation Support Team can deliver Operational Guidance surgeries, to allow you to drill into the detail of the model, benchmark your progress and learn lessons from policy teams across the UK.

Although there are significant advantages to this approach we do understand that not all services will want to follow this model. To ensure other needs are supported, we have collated and mapped ways in which implementation is being undertaken across the UK, recognising that there are different models and methods available which we can share with services, through wider implementation activities.

If you would like us to support your service by facilitating an Operational Guidance Surgery, please contact your Implementation Liaison Manager directly or email

National Operational Learning

What is National Operational Learning?

National Operational Learning is a process that captures operational learning from UK fire and rescue services and the wider international fire and rescue sector.

The process, which is both proactive and reactive, captures learning and checks it against the Operational Guidance framework of hazards, control measures, and strategic and tactical actions

Any gaps in the guidance are identified and, where necessary, content is consulted upon, using the existing Operational Guidance governance process, and amended.