Control measure knowledge

Domestic and commercial gas, electricity, water and oil supplies to premises can ordinarily be isolated at the intake point in the building or in meter boxes outside the building.

This level of isolation can usually be carried out by responding fire and rescue service personnel, but assistance from the utility company may be required if supplies need to be isolated in the street.

Gas supplies

Gas supplies into small premises will be controlled by a clockwise quarter-turn on a gas supply pipe, which will be located on the supply side of the meter.

In commercial kitchens, there may be an emergency isolator, located near the kitchen exit..

 

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Gas isolation valve - photograph courtesy of Janet Guthrie

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

Where no mains gas is available, small gas tanks can be provided above or below ground level; the supply line to the premises will be fitted with an isolation control facility, as above. LPG in smaller cylinders can also be used; these are isolated by a control valve on top of each cylinder.

 

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LPG storage tank - photograph courtesy of Peter Martin

 

Electricity supplies

For more information on the safe management of electricity supplies, refer to the hazard - Electricity and the supplementary information for domestic supply.

Water supplies

Stopcocks in the property, or control valves in the street, can isolate a water main for domestic or commercial premises.

Fire and rescue service personnel can usually isolate water supplies but may need to request assistance from the water supplier.

Sewerage systems

Fire and rescue service personnel may need to enter sewerage systems to deal with operational incidents.

'Sewer' is a generic term for pipework, usually subsurface, that carries foul water, i.e. domestic, industrial and other waste. The size of sewers can range from a small, household 150mm pipe to a tunnel large enough for a person to stand in.

Many sewers also carry surface water from roads; more recently a twin-pipe system has been used to ensure sewerage works are not overloaded during periods of heavy rain.

Normally, sewerage systems cannot be isolated as they are open vented and gravity fed systems; supply cannot therefore be easily diverted or shut down. However, there may be sluice gates that can be closed to assist with controlling or altering sewage flows.

Sluice gates are physical barriers that are usually operated automatically by fluid pressure or controlled remotely for flood control to prevent backwash. They are intended to direct or divert flow, usually at tunnel intersections, and will be under the direct control of the sewage or wastewater undertaker.

 

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Sluice gate

 

Fuel oil

Domestic and commercial premises may use fuel oil for boiler systems and heating. These fuel storage facilities will have an isolating control valve between the tank and the premises.

 

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Fuel oil tank - photograph courtesy of Peter Martin

 

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Liaise with local utility supply companies and maintain up-to-date emergency contact details in their fire control rooms
  • Ensure that Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI) contains details of utility shut-off facilities in commercial premises

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Determine which utilities are involved in the incident
  • Isolate any utilities that may affect the incident or crew safety, and secure against reconnection
  • Consider seeking specialist advice or assistance for managing and controlling utility supplies to larger premises, or where isolating supply is problematic. See control measure - Seek specialist advice or assistance for dealing with utilities or fuel.
  • Consider the consequence and impact of shutting off utility supplies for larger premises, such as schools or hospitals
  • Request the attendance of utility providers to isolate incoming supplies if local isolation is not possible

  • Record and time stamp the decision to isolate utilities in the analytical risk assessment and decision log

  • Inform all personnel and other responders which utilities have been isolated and if any remain operative