Technical Rescue - Part III

The NFPA 1670 Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Rescue Incidents provides the basis from which the development, training and operations for special operations technical rescue teams are measured against.


  • Size-up of existing and potential conditions
  • Initiation of contact and establishment of communications with victims where possible
  • Recognition and identification of the hazards associated with non-entry confined space emergencies
  • Recognition of confined spaces
  • Procedures to perform a non-entry retrieval
  • Procedures for implementing the emergency response system for confined space emergencies
  • Procedures for implementing site control and scene management

Operations-Level functions at confined space rescue incidents shall include the following:

Personnel operating at the Operations Level must meet ALL awareness-level requirements specified in the NFPA 1670 standard. Personnel at this level will be responsible for the development and training of a confined space rescue team consistent with the requirements of this section.

Personnel operating at the Operations level must meet ALL operations-level requirements specified regarding rope rescue and the requirements of a confined space rescue team as specified in the standard. In addition, personnel operating at the operations level must also meet ALL operations-level requirements regarding trench and excavation rescue specified in the NFPA 1670 standard.

Operations-level functions for confined space rescue operations shall include the following:

  • Procedures for protecting personnel from hazards within the confined space
  • Continued size-up of existing and potential conditions
  • Procedures for assuring that personnel are capable of appropriately managing the physical and psychological challenges that effect rescuers entering confined spaces
  • Identification of the duties of the rescue entrant(s) and back-up rescue entrant(s), rescue attendant, and rescue team leader as defined herein
  • Procedures to monitor continuously, or at frequent intervals, the atmosphere in all parts of the space to be entered and to monitor for, in the following order, oxygen content, flammability (LEL/ LFL), and toxicity
  • Procedures for entry-type rescues into confined spaces meeting all of the following specific qualifying characteristics:
  • The internal configuration of the space is clear and unobstructed so retrieval systems can be utilized for rescuers without possibility of entanglement.
  • The victim can be easily seen from the outside of the space's primary access opening.
  • Rescuers can pass easily through the access/egress opening(s) with room to spare when PPE is worn in the manner recommended by the manufacturer.
  • The space can accommodate two or more rescuers in addition to the victim.
  • All hazards in and around the confined space have been identified, isolated, and controlled.
  • Procedures for the safe and effective use of victim packaging devices that could be employed in confined space rescue
  • Procedures for the transfer of victim information including location, surroundings, condition when found, present condition, and other information pertinent to emergency medical services
  • Procedures for planning and implementing an appropriate confined space rescue operation
  • Procedures for selection, construction, and use of a rope lowering and raising system in the high-angle environment

Technician-Level functions at confined space rescue incidents shall include the following:

Personnel operating at the Technician Level must have met ALL operations-level requirements and ALL awareness-level requirements specified in the lower level competencies. The personnel at this level will be responsible for the development and training of a confined space rescue team consistent with the requirements of this discipline area.

Technician-level functions for confined space rescue operations will include the following:

  • Continued size-up of existing and potential conditions
  • Procedures to assure that rescue team members shall take part in a medical surveillance program
  • Planning response for entry-type confined space rescues in hazardous environments
  • Implementation of the planned response

As you can see, the NFPA 1670 three-tiered response level capabilities outlined for each of the two technical rescue response disciplines for Structure Collapse Rescue and for Confined Space Rescue consider and stipulate very definable levels of operational commitment that a special operations team member or emergency services support personnel can perform at a given incident. In both technical rescue disciplines, each operational level competency is built upon the previous level of skills and training competencies and also expands competency requirements into other NFPA 1670 technical rescue disciplines. This constitutes the level of integration and cross-disciplinary training skills and competencies required for personnel to safely operate at respected technical incident operations.