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Control measure
Stabilise the mode of transport

Control measure knowledge

Stabilising the vehicle or craft seeks to ensure that the risk to any casualties and emergency responders associated with uncontrolled movement of the vehicle or craft is minimised. Any stabilisation measures should take into account the expected level of operational intervention by emergency responders. During the stabilisation phase of the incident, appropriate resources should be allocated to address issues relating to the vehicle or craft and its load or cargo.

Requesting assistance including specialist resources from other services, partner agencies or external contractors should be considered in the early stages due to the potential response times. Urban search and rescue (USAR) teams may provide considerable expert knowledge and resources relating to stability at transport incidents.

The incident commander must make an assessment on the benefit versus the risks regarding the prioritisation of stability over other fire and rescue service priorities at the scene.

The properties of a good stabilisation method are:

  • It should secure the vehicle or craft safely
  • It should completely immobilise the vehicle or craft
  • It should be simple, able to stabilise a mode of transport in the position it was found on arrival of the rescue crew, and not hinder any subsequent actions
  • The method should not take a long time to set up
  • It should allow for easy checking on a regular basis to ensure the vehicle or craft remains stable

Fire and rescue service personnel should practise and train as a crew to effectively stabilise a variety of vehicles or craft in a range of locations based on the risks in that service area. Fire and rescue service personnel should also be familiar with differing construction techniques, including the materials used, so that stabilisation techniques make best use of the load bearing parts of the structure to support the vehicle or craft.

Primary, secondary and tertiary stabilisation methods should be employed and regularly checked throughout the course of the incident.

Large and heavy objects may assist with vehicle or craft stability and these should be considered as part of the plan; it may be appropriate to carry out a controlled movement of the object such as removing it from the inner cordon.

UKRO provides further information on stabilising large goods vehicles (LGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs).

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide crews with information, instruction and training in safe and effective stabilisation of a range of vehicles and craft
  • Make arrangements for the provision of specialist equipment to assist in transport related incidents associated with risks identified in their areas

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider the stabilisation of unsecured vehicles as part of the incident plan

  • Identify and request the resources required to implement the identified stabilisation plan, having consideration for response times (including USAR teams)
  • Prioritise the use of approved stabilisation techniques and equipment over improvised methods that may be required in some situations
  • Regularly assess the effectiveness of the stabilisation techniques employed

  • Appoint a safety officer to monitor the effect of operations on the stability of vehicle
  • Maintain rescuer egress route in case the vehicle becomes unstable or moves

  • Consider securing an unstable vehicle to a suitable anchor point

  • Stabilise the vehicle and create initial access to casualties

  • Stabilise the vehicle to protect against uncontrolled movement and regularly check effectiveness