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Hazardous Chemical Incidents

The Fire and Rescue Service can access general information and advice on hazardous chemicals and emergency procedures for incidents involving hazardous chemicals.

Emergency Action Codes (commonly called Hazchem Codes) are designed to assist the emergency services in the first few minutes of dealing with a hazardous goods distribution incident. Further information on Emergency Action Codes is available from The National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC).

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The NCEC plays a key role in national arrangements for responding to chemical incidents. It provides a 24-hour national advice service to the public emergency services on dealing with chemical incidents and is a central part of the Chemical Industries Associations Chemsafe scheme.

The role of the Fire and Rescue Service is derived from its long experience in fire fighting and rescue operations of all types:-

  • The identification of the chemical or toxic release, and the necessary protective measures required to gain access to the contaminated area, if possible.
  • The cordoning off of the contaminated area/inner cordon, where it proves necessary for emergency services to wear protective clothing to gain access.
  • The safety of all personnel directly involved in the rescue work or working within the inner cordon.
  • Where possible, attempting to prevent further escalation of the chemical incident by the provision of basic containment equipment.
  • The provision of personnel suitably protected and with suitable rescue equipment to enable them to rescue trapped casualties.
  • Liaison with the Ambulance Service and Medical Incident Officer regarding the nature of the chemical/toxic release, and assisting the Ambulance Service.
  • Information gathering and hazard assessment enabling advice to be given to the Police about the needs or otherwise to shelter or evacuate members of the public.
  • Advise the Police on the precautions to be taken for public safety.
  • Liaison with authorities responsible for the environment and consideration of the effects of an incident on the environment.
  • Liaison with the agency responsible for the clear up operation and continued liaison with the authorities responsible for the protection of the environment.

The Civil Contingencies Secretariat, provides links to government and non-government sources on a wide variety of emergencies and crises that can affect the UK, plus emergency planning guidance and government information.