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.


The support function of other departmental companies are part of a "unified system" whereby they become critical to the tactical objectives of the specialized rescue team personnel. Training should be developed to an awareness level by which these personnel gain an understanding of procedures, safety and hazard awareness and precautionary measures, tool, equipment and appliance support in operational deployment and an understanding of their scope of limitations in how they are part of the overall technical rescue system for incident management and operations. This awareness level training of general companies should be expanded to include mutual-aid agencies that typically are called upon so they too can become an integral part of the support system for incident operations.

The development of applicable and unifying operating procedures, incident management policies, team organization, safety and response procedures and standard operating procedures will fill-out the requirements for the development and subsequent mission ready activation of the specialized rescue team. Through careful planning and analysis, coupled with an examination of the goals, objectives, and ultimate scope of responsibilities for the technical rescue team component, these documents will operate and exist within the department's organizational structure and interface within the emergency delivery system.

Special Operations Technical Rescue Incident Management System

A significant area that in the past has not received the level of attention and focus required during the planning and implementation phases of special operations teams, is that of the Incident Command Management component. Strategic and Tactical operations at technical rescue incidents REQUIRE an enhanced set of ICM skills and competencies that are unique to the daily standardized response and integration of traditional ICM methodologies. In other words, incident commanders, who manage technical rescue incidents, must have a basis of understanding of technical rescue demands and requirements, they must be knowledgeable of the elements and components that comprise a specific technical rescue incident and must have an established technical rescue incident command management model that can be integrated into the response and operations cycle.

The effective and safe management of technical rescue incidents demands that an appropriate technical rescue specific ICM model be implemented during operations, built upon the established day-to-day ICM system utilized by your department. Special Operations Technical Rescue requires unique strategic and tactical operational attributes, planning and logistical needs. Incident Commanders must clearly understand these unique characteristics and elements in order to ensure safe mitigation of these types of incidents. You cannot mange technical rescue incidents the same way you mange typical fire alarm and multiple company operations.

Technical Rescue Incident Command Planning Considerations

  • Develop and utilize training on the implementation of an incident management system that meets the requirements of NFPA 1561, Standard on Fire Department Incident Management System, with written special operations technical rescue standard operating procedures applying to all personnel involved in technical rescue operations.
  • Develop a Technical Rescue ICM model that integrates into the existing ICM system utilized for daily operations.
  • Develop, train and implement required support elements to ensure the technical rescue ICM model integrates with surrounding agencies and upper tiered specialized response resources, teams, agencies and support groups.
  • All personnel involved in direct or support technical rescue emergency operations must be familiar with this ICM system and SOPs.
  • The department must provide for training on the implementation of an incident personnel accountability system that meets the requirements of NFPA 1561, Standard on Fire Department Incident Management System, and addresses the unique characteristics of special operations technical rescue incidents.
  • The incident command management system should account for the need for qualified direct and support level personnel to ensure rotation of personnel to reduce stress and fatigue during extended operational periods of a technical rescue incident mission.
  • The incident commander shall ensure that all personnel are aware of the potential impact of their operations on the safety and welfare of other rescuers, victims, and other activities at the technical rescue incident site.
  • The department must ensure that technical rescue team personnel and support function personnel are psychologically, physically, and medically capable to perform assigned duties and functions at technical rescue incidents and to perform training exercises in accordance with NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program.
  • Practice and train utilizing the technical rescue incident command model on a frequency that will ensure skills and competencies are maintained.