Operational Preparedness


Operational Preparedness


A fire and rescue service that is prepared for responding to emergencies, as identified through its risk management planning. Operational preparedness includes having in place:

  • Competent operational and fire control personnel
  • Appropriate resources, vehicles, equipment and systems
  • Comprehensive operational policies, procedures, tailored guidance and training

Operational preparedness includes being able to safely and effectively respond to emergencies, whether:

  • As a single service
  • Working with other local or regional fire and rescue services
  • Working with the National Resilience capabilities
  • Working in a multi-agency structure

Date of approval: 15/02/2021
Date of issue: 16/02/2021
Review date: 28/02/2024
Reference number: FSD-RSP02a

In order to prepare for and provide an operational response, fire and rescue services must be able to evidence consideration of and actions taken in relation to these key activities:

  1. Legislative responsibilities
  2. Data management
  3. Risk management
  4. Health and safety management
  5. Site-Specific Risk Information
  6. Emergency response plans
  7. Operational assurance
  8. Competence and training, including validation and revalidation
  9. Operational learning
  10. Participation in legal proceedings relating to operational training or activity

To achieve this Fire Standard, a fire and rescue service must:

  1. Undertake all appropriate risk assessments, as required under legislation, to prepare for an operational response
  2. Review existing cover models, resources, equipment and training against all appropriate risk assessments
  3. Carry out capabilities-based planning to support emergency preparedness and response from a national to a local level
  4. Determine their responsibilities for operational response and be fully prepared to deliver them
  5. Have a health and safety policy for the operational environment that clearly outlines the responsible parties and their obligations
  6. Undertake a review of how the organisation is structured and functions, to confirm its ability to support operational preparedness; if there are any gaps identified there should be a clear plan for making appropriate changes
  7. Develop and embed operational policies, procedures and tailored guidance based on the National Operational Guidance, unless by evidenced exception its content is not relevant to the service
  8. Deliver the strategic actions provided in the suite of National Operational Guidance, unless by evidenced exception a strategic action is not relevant to the service; the strategic gap analysis tool may be used to support this process
  9. Train its operational and fire control personnel to use the hazard and control measure approach provided in the National Operational Guidance, applying risk assessment, decision-making and risk management skills
  10. Align relevant policies, procedures and tailored guidance in preparation for working with other fire and rescue services or responder agencies

Expected benefits of achieving this Fire Standard include:

  1. Comprehensive and accurate risk management processes to protect fire and rescue service employees and the community, backed by national expertise
  2. Simpler processes for the development of policies, procedures and tailored guidance by aligning methods for the identification of local hazards and control measures with the National Operational Guidance
  3. The ability for those outside the service, including coroners or those responsible for matters such as public inquiries, to recognise and acknowledge that the service has a sound body of intelligence and good practice on which its activities are based
  4. For inspectorates, including His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and the Health and Safety Executive, to be able to base their expectations of the operational preparedness of the service on:
    • a) adherence to the legislative requirements for operational preparedness
    • b) how comprehensively the National Operational Guidance has been considered and applied
  5. Achievement of occupational competence, that is the ability to consistently achieve the stated outcome of workplace performance; competence and training policies should be established for the roles of all employees and, where applicable, they should be based on the National Operational Guidance
  6. Constant improvement to the quality of service provided to the public

Fire and rescue services are responsible, under legislation and regulations, for developing policies and procedures and to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to their personnel about foreseeable hazards and the control measures used to reduce the risks arising from those hazards.

There are many references to relevant legislation and regulations made throughout the National Operational Guidance framework. Some of the fundamental ones are shown below.

Fire and Rescue Services Act

This act is the principal legislation for the fire and rescue services of England and Wales. It describes the duties and powers placed on the fire and rescue service, in particular:

  • To provide an operational response (sections 7, 8 and 9)
  • The power to respond to other types of emergency (sections 11 and 12)

Civil Contingencies Act

The act relates to planning for emergencies, with responsibilities to:

  • Assess the risk of an emergency occurring
  • Assess the risk of an emergency making it necessary or expedient for the person or body to perform any of their functions
  • Maintain plans for the purpose of ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, that if an emergency occurs the person or body is able to continue to perform their functions
  • Maintain plans for the purpose of ensuring that if an emergency occurs or is likely to occur the person or body is able to perform their functions so far as necessary or desirable for the purpose of:
    • Preventing the emergency
    • Reducing, controlling or mitigating its effects
    • Taking other action in connection with it

National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies

This captures the range of emergencies that might have a major impact on all, or significant parts of, the UK. It forms the basis for capabilities-based planning to support emergency preparedness and response from a national to a local level, including what responsibilities are placed on emergency responders in order to prepare for them.

Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act

This act imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • The health, safety and welfare at work of all of their employees (section 2)
  • The health and safety of others is not affected by the work carried out by their employees (section 3)

The act also means that employees have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of other people who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work (section 7).

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

Regulation 5 states that every employer has to make and record appropriate arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures.

National Operational Guidance (NOG), in particular:

  • The section Corporate guidance for operational activity, including the corporate actions
  • The strategic actions for each control measure throughout the suite of guidance
  • Supplementary information, in particular where information about resources or equipment are provided

The Operational Response implementation guide

JESIP Joint Doctrine
Health and Safety Executive
Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship
Emergency Service Contact Handling Apprenticeship

Note: Please contact the Fire Standards team within the NFCC CPO for any queries or support with regards to this Fire Standard [email protected]