581 Water rescue and safety near or in water Flashcards Preview

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Definition Level 1 water operations is

Operations where firefighters work within 3m of an unprotected waters edge, or enter water that is both shallow enough not to compromise their PPE (i.e. over the top of their fire boots) and slow moving enough that there is no foreseeable risk that they will be swept off their feet.


Definition Level 2 water operations

Operations where firefighters may have to commit to water (still or moving) to affect a rescue. This includes all incidents involving people in the water and any other incidents beyond the limitations of level 1.


Definition Level 3 water operations

Operations which involve the deployment of the Flood Response Kits (FRK) where firefighters may be required to work under the guidance of FRU SRT near, on or in flood water. This equipment will normally be deployed for flooding over a wide area but it can also be used for more localised floods where significant numbers of firefighters need to be committed to the water.


What is a TRA

Technical rescue tactical advisors are available to provide advice and support to the Incident Commander (IC). A TRA can also act as a functional commander at incidents involving water operations


When are TRA's involved

A TRA will be informed when level 1 water operations is implemented and mobilised when level 2 water operations is implemented. They are also available on request from the incident.
It is not necessary for the TRA to be present for operations to commence.


Mud, ice and partially frozen water present additional hazards therefore

Only FRU SRT are equipped to perform go/tow rescues at these incidents. Therefore, ICs must not commit untrained personnel on or into mud, ice or partially frozen water unless the situation is so critical that to await the arrival of further resources is likely to result in loss of human life. In such circumstances every effort must be made to reduce the risk to firefighters.


station managers should make sure systems are in place to identify and inspect locations where crews may have to carry out water operations in order to identify:

the location and any name by which the site is known;

access points for appliances and personnel;

approach routes and RVPs for appliances;

water depth and how this might vary;

flow rates (normal and heightened);

known subsurface hazards;

any recorded occurrences of infection;

physical hazards in, on or near the water (weirs, locks etc).
Information gathered should be recorded and the details included on the MDT and borough plan.


To assist with the formulation of clear objectives and an operational plan the following is a guide to the information that should be sought from witnesses:

The number of people involved.

Where the casualty was last seen.

Whether the casualty was wearing a life jacket.

What clothing the casualty was dressed in.

Information on hazards that may pose a threat to crews entering water e.g. undercurrents, downstream weirs, and subsurface debris.


At level 1 IC to impliment amongst other things

When working near moving water the IC should nominate and position “spotters” upstream and downstream. Downstream spotters should be equipped with throw lines. In addition the IC should appoint a safety officer and consider ordering a FRU for extra bank side safety.



The following diagram shows a summary of the hierarchy of rescue.
Row FRU SRT Only

Level 2
Level 1


When can non FRU SRT be commited to water

When firefighters are required to enter the water to affect a wade rescue, IC’s should, wherever possible, await the arrival of a FRU with a BT and path attribute.
Firefighters not trained in Swiftwater Rescue may only be committed to water to carry out a rescue, as a very last resort, when the situation is so critical that to await the arrival of further resources is likely to result in the loss of human life.


Before a firefighter (non SRT) enters the water to carry out a rescue as a very last resort, when the situation is so critical that to await the arrival of further resources is likely to result in the loss of human life

the incident must be escalated to a level 2 water operation and the following control measures must be in place:

A firefighter who is considered competent and capable of performing the rescue should be identified by the IC.

All personnel must be fully briefed about the rescue procedure and the role of each individual.

A floating safety line supervisor must be in place.

Anyone entering the water must be rigged correctly (see section 7.6) and attached to a floating safety line.

Consider using inflated fire hose to provide additional buoyancy for the casualty and the rescuer.

Effective communications must be established and maintained between the IC, the rescuer and all safety personnel.

Keep noise to a minimum around the area of operations to facilitate clear verbal communications e.g. switch off appliance engines if parked close by.
Personnel to enter the water slowly to minimise cold water shock and reduce the chance of injury. Any immersion in cold water can compromise even good swimmers almost immediately.

Gauge the depth of the water before entering and if necessary take a ceiling hook or other piece of equipment to regularly gauge the water depth.

The floating safety line supervisor is to monitor the rescuer for signs of distress and if they appear in distress or become unresponsive to withdraw rescuer immediately.

Any Firefighter committed to the water should be replaced by FRU SRT as soon as practicable.

Send priority message detailing what actions have been taken and requesting appropriate additional resources.


At level 2 Following a risk assessment, IC’s in conjunction with the FRU Crew Commander or TRA should consider the following.

Location of casualty.

Access to casualty.

Stabilisation of casualty.

Extrication of casualty.

Transportation of casualty.


Who can wade

Other than, in the exceptional circumstances, described in section 7.11, a wade rescue can only be carried out by FRU SRT. A wade rescue is defined as:
“Where circumstances dictate, it may be necessary to enter the water and then carry out a “Reach” or “Throw” rescue”.


The following points should be followed when using the ERB

Powered ERB must be crewed by a minimum of two FRU powerboat handlers when carrying out a rescue.

The ERB has a maximum capacity of 7 people, which includes rescuers.

The Dacon Rescue sling is the primary means of recovering casualties from the water.

The emergency cut out lanyard (kill cord) is attached from the coxswain to the engine of the ERB at all times during boat operations.

The all round white navigation light must be used at night or during poor visibility


If the initial call was not to an ice related incident, the initial IC must send the priority message
“Implement water operations procedure level-2, rescue path required”.
what will be mobilised

When Brigade Control receives this message they will order two FRUs with BT and Path attribute and mobilise a TRA and SM.


For a mud rescue IC to consider

It is vital that the IC considers the following when formulating a plan:

If tidal, the state of tide (rising or falling) – available from brigade control.

Condition of the casualty.

Distance to the casualty.

Mud borne hazards (sharp objects and debris)
In addition, if the incident is on the River Thames the IC should ensure the Fireboat has been ordered if it is not already in attendance.
IC’s must not commit untrained personnel on mud, ice or partially frozen water unless the situation is so critical that to await the arrival of further resources is likely to result in loss of human life. In such circumstances every effort must be made to reduce the risk to firefighters.


During level 3 water rescue FRU Swiftwater Technicians are clearly identifiable

by their red water safety helmet


TRAs will be identifiable by

surcoat with TRA insert and white water safety helmet


At level 3 water rescue firefighters can wade but remember

When operating in floodwater crews will be required to wade to access premises or carry out tasks.

The maximum wading depth for firefighters wearing L3 PPE is 60cms (2 feet): in practise, this is at knee height for most firefighters.

If operations are necessary in deeper water, then these must be carried out by boat or FRU SRTs.

Wading poles should be used to identify holes or other underwater hazards. These may be used by individual crew members or by the lead person when wading through water.

Movement through flood water should be deliberate. The weight should be kept on the back foot with the front foot/wading pole checking the ground ahead for obstacles such as displaced drain covers or other hazards.

The following guidelines should apply:

Use wading poles to assess ground conditions and obstacles.

Use landmarks to help establish depth of water.

Continually assess the surface movement of the water to identify speed of water, eddies associated with water entering drains, etc.


Level 3 water operations equipment where are they stored and how many

5 x Flood Response Kit are stored at The Brigade Distribution Centre (BDC) located in Croydon as part of the bulk resilience inventory


Each FRK consists of

5 x 4m Flood Response Boats (FRB), 1 x Versadock raft and PPE for up to 20 firefighters.


During flood operations there may be a requirement for FRU Emergency Rescue Boats (ERBs) to work alongside FRBs to aide in mass casualty evacuation.

The FRB is rated to carry up to 8 adults and it can be pulled or towed by line, paddled or powered.

For the majority of evacuation (or rescue) operations, firefighters wearing appropriate PPE will pull FRB’s. In circumstances where a power unit is required to assist with a rescue or to improve firefighter safety, coxswains must operate at a speed sufficient to make steady
progress but not so fast as to create a wash that would have an adverse affect on operations and property.

A minimum of 2 FRU Powerboat handlers are required to use each FRBs under power.


When additional resources are required to resolve the incident safely, a priority assistance message should be sent

“From ………; at………… implement Water Operations Level 2.


Messages When the pre determined attendance (PDA) for an Incident has provided the resource requirements to implement a safe system of work the Incident Commander should confirm this in an informative message.

“From ………; at………… water operations level 1 implemented.


General water operations considerations
Casualty management
Should the initial call give an indication that there are people in the water; however

Brigade Control will automatically order an ambulance. However it is the IC’s responsibility to check an ambulance has been ordered.


Requests to attend this type of incident usually originate from the Police, who are responsible for all aspects associated with the discovery of a body, including recovery, documentation and notification to the Coroner.
However if the brigade is called to conduct a rescue the casualty should be presumed to be alive unless one of the following applies:

There is strong evidence that casualty has been face down in the water for over 90 minutes.

The body has started to decompose.

The casualty is pronounced dead by a qualified doctor.