It is unlikely fire and rescue service personnel will have in-depth knowledge of all types of incidents they could encounter. To deal with an incident safely and effectively, it may therefore be necessary to request specialist advice from the responsible (competent) person, subject matter expert (SME) or a tactical adviser (Tac Ad).
The extent and urgency in requesting specialist advice will be dictated by the size, complexity and type of the incident. The amount, quantity and quality of information will be directed by the nature of the incident and it is crucial that the on-scene commander or fire control room can access the most current information possible.
A competent person is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help required.
A competent person should be able to provide accurate and relevant information in their specific area of work. They should also be able to interpret and translate such understanding into information that would be useful to support operational priorities.
Subject matter expert (SME)
A subject-matter expert is a person who is an authority in a particular area or topic. Incident commanders should ensure, so far as practicable, that the individual is an expert in the relevant field.
Subject matter adviser (SMA)
Subject matter advisers are members of the fire and rescue service who work with national resilience capabilities on a day-to-day basis. The SMA will provide detailed tactical capability advice to the incident commander. SMAs will only be mobilised by the National Resilience Fire Control (NRFC).
Tactical advisers are trained and recognised specialists with specific references within local capabilities and/or national resilience. They are available to provide advice and support to any incident irrespective of location. However, their usual role is within their host fire and rescue service.
A tactical adviser has in depth knowledge from both a business and organisational perspective that can significantly enhance performance when shared with others.
Tactical advisers are currently available from the following fields:
- National Inter-agency Liaison Officer (NILO)
- Urban search and rescue (USAR)
- High volume pumps (HVP)
- Water rescue
- Wildfire incidents