Incident directory

2007 - A1(M)

16/06/2007

Country:

UK

  • Road Incidents

Severity:

Fatal

Description

Date of event

16th June 2007                 

Time of event

21:15 HRS (INITIAL CALL)

Name of premises

A1(M)

Location

A1(M) between Junctions 8 & 7 Southbound, Hertfordshire.

Service area

Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service (HFRS).

Nature of incident

Car fire & subsequent road traffic collision (RTC).

Property type

Highway of 4 lanes, 2 in each direction with hard shoulders.

Premises use

Motorway.

Construction type and materials

Concrete and asphalt.

Occupancy

Not relevant.

Fire source and location of fire

Initial fire within engine compartment of car.

Synopsis

Brief Synopsis

2 Fire appliances were mobilised to a car fire (involving a burgundy Saab) on a multilane road, the A1(M). The first appliance booked in attendance at approximately 21:24 and parked in front of the car on fire approximately 6 car lengths away. There was a small fire under the bonnet with steam and oil dripping on the ground being observed. The second appliance booked in attendance at approximately 21:25 and parked in a ‘fend off’ position at an approximate 45 degree angle across the slip road and hard shoulder. A Highways Agency vehicle approached on the Northbound lane and the second ‘fend off’ appliance was told that they could go. A Highways Agency vehicle booked in attendance at approximately 21:28 in their ‘fend off position’ suitable for the incident by their procedures I.e. ‘in line’. At approximately 21:29 the second fire appliance left the scene (HFRS, circa. 2007).

A short time after 21:30 while 2 fire service officers including the Sub Officer in charge were looking at the damage to the engine compartment, another car, a red Golf hit the Saab knocking one fire officer into a nearby Highways Officer, knocking him over the Armco barrier. The Sub Officer was found under the Saab where he had received fatal injuries from the collision. At 21:35 an assistance message was sent to HFRS control and the Highways Agency closed the whole carriageway. The collision also resulted in injuries to other fire service staff and one of the Highways Agency Traffic Officers (HFRS, circa. 2007).

Photo 1

Image courtesy of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. (Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, circa 2007).  

 Photo 2

Image courtesy of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. (Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, circa 2007).  

Photo 3

Image courtesy of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. (Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, circa 2007).  

Photo 4

Image courtesy of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. (Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, circa 2007).  

Photo 5

Image courtesy of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. (Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, circa 2007).  

Main findings, key lessons & areas for learning

Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service summary of main findings & recommendations

Taken from: Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), (circa 2007).  Investigation into Incident Number 10644 RTC A1(M).

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Findings

1, Between 2000 and 2004 accidents on the hard shoulder claimed the lives of 67 people and injured a total of 950 people. Although there has been no report of any other Fire Service personnel being killed on the motorway in recent years while responding to an incident in the UK, it is widely accepted that fast moving traffic on a motorway poses a serious danger.

2, Although there is clear and comprehensive guidance for fire crews working on motorway carriageways, there appears to be no specific operational procedures for Fire Service vehicles working on a hard shoulder. It should also be noted that the Fire Service Generic Risk Assessment 4.1. Incidents Involving Transport Systems – Roads was issued prior to arrangements being put into place for the Highways Agency to manage the road network.

3, HFRS Service Policies and Procedures reflect the National Guidance for procedures to be adopted on the motorway. The current SIS also provides concise guidance on motorway procedures and the associated dangers. However, this SIS does not mention detailed illustrated guidance on fend off and coning procedures.

4, National guidance from the Fire and Rescue Service Manual (Volume 2) provides direction on the safest approach to take to incidents on the motorway, and how to fend off if an incident occurs within the carriageway. It does not however give explicit guidance on incidents that may occur on carriageways that merge with or lead to motorways or provide explicit procedures for incidents on hard shoulders.

Many calls to car fires on the motorway tend to be either of a minor nature or false alarms. Due to the potential traffic disruption caused by a lane closure, fire crews will assess the nature of the call prior to deciding on any lane closures. If the vehicle is on the hard shoulder and fully involved in fire, the Fire Service may need to shut down both the hard shoulder and at least lane one to protect the firefighters working. The Incident Commander will risk assess and make decisions based on the scene.

Guidance from the Fire and Rescue Service Manual (Volume 2) states that when the fire service attend a working Road Traffic Collision ( RTC ) at any location including motorways, it is expected that an action circle extending outwards for 2 – 5 metres in every direction will be put in place. This circle provides a 360 degree view of the scene and saves valuable time by allowing fire service personnel to develop an adequate plan while operating safely. It therefore follows that an RTC on the motorway (including the hard shoulder) will result in the closure of more than one lane. There is clear national and HFRS guidance on lane closures and coning procedures in this instance.

However, for the fire service attending a vehicle fire on the hard shoulder, there is no clear fire service guidance and therefore the Incident Commander will be expected to make a decision based on their dynamic risk assessment in the absence of either the police of Highways Agency being in attendance. This will result in variations of operational practices nationally and locally.

5, The Guidance on Policing Motorways 2006 Manual (GPMM) advises that when a vehicle is on fire the police should close lane one when the burning vehicle is on the hard shoulder so that the Fire and Rescue Service can carry out their duties. There is no reference to this in The Fire and Rescue Service Manual Volume 2, entitled Fire Service Operations – Incidents Involving Rescue From Road Vehicles.

6, HFRS has a good relationship with the Highways Agency and is signed up to a Regional Memorandum of Understanding. On the introduction of the Highways Agency into Hertfordshire in 2004, a clear process was introduced into the Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that all information available was disseminated to personnel by Station Memorandum and by the use of the HFRS local intranet. At top level management there is a clear link between the Highways agency and HFRS. However, HFRS does not have a clear process for communicating information to operational personnel.

7, All national guidance indicates that it is the responsibility of the police in conjunction with the HATOs to provide a safe working area for other emergency services when they are in attendance.

8, The Fire and Rescue Service will be guided at an incident by the police or HATOs on parking of emergency vehicles on the motorway when they are in attendance.

9, HFRS Command and Control were unaware of the ability they have to request Highways Agency to set matrix signs to control the speed of approaching traffic prior to the HATOs arriving.

10, The investigation shows that Incident Commander and crews appear to have followed HFRS Standard Operating Procedures at this incident.

11, It is almost certain that the Incident Commander SubO Paul Mallaghan had removed his fire helmet as he attempted to view the damage to the Saab. He was carrying his fire helmet in his hand at the time of the collision. LFf 1 was not wearing his fire helmet or gloves because he had taken them off to speak with the driver of the Saab and this directly led to him receiving serious head injuries. However, all fire crews in both 230 and 231 fire appliances were rigged in the appropriate PPE clothing for an incident of this nature to ensure high conspicuity and were complying with the appropriate standards.

12, The HFRS waistcoat style hi-vis jacket is rated to class 2 but fulfils the requirement of class 3 retroflective material at operational incidents on dual carriageways with speed limits above 50mph. Class 2 is the lesser standard and is suitable when it is worn in conjunction with the fire tunic.

Although compliant with the appropriate standards, it appears that HFRS Incident Commanders wear a lesser standard of surcoat in a white or white and yellow version in accordance with the correct Incident Command System as they would not normally be required to direct traffic and would work within a ‘protected zone’.

13, The fire appliance in attendance at the time of the collision (i.e. 230; registration xxxx xxx) was a spare vehicle which was being used by Stevenage whilst their substantive fire appliance was being serviced. The spare vehicle meets all the minimum legal standards for lighting and conspicuity markings relating to emergency vehicles. The police inspected the vehicle at the scene on the night of 16 June 2007 during their Crash Investigation and found it to be in working order and compliant with the requirements for working on the roadway.

14, The ‘In Line’ fend off position on the hard shoulder of the slip road deployed by the HATO vehicle at this incident provided limited protection from vehicles travelling south bound on the main carriageway of the motorway. Its aim was to provide a physical barrier from vehicles travelling down the slip road and provide a visible presence for on-coming traffic. There are differences in the choice of ‘fend off’ positioning between the Police, Highways Agency and Fire Service due to varying responsibilities and operating procedures. On this occasion both the Highways Agency and HFRS were fending off in accordance with their current standard operation procedures.

15, The Service meets the statutory requirements in relation to conspicuity and working on highways and roadways, in terms of personal protective clothing, vehicle markings and lighting.

16, The range of training undertaken by the Stevenage crews who attended this incident shows that there were adequate and appropriate levels of experience and knowledge to enable them to deal with an incident on the roadway which developed from a small car fire to a multi-vehicle collision involving several casualties.

Recommendations

1, Specific operational procedures for fire service vehicles working on a hard shoulder need to be drawn up. These need to incorporate the guidance offered from the ACPO Guidance on Policing Motorways 2006. The Fire Service Generic Risk Assessment 4.1 Incidents Involving Transport Systems – Roads needs to be revised and updated.

2, No cones or warning signage were deployed by the Fire Service at this incident because the Highways Agency were in attendance and would take responsibility for this task if it was felt necessary. However, the HFRS SIS OPS 2/30 Incidents Involving Road Vehicles does not mention detailed illustrated guidance on fend off and coning procedures. The SIS needs to take into consideration the Highways Agency role, the Police role and the incident location – which on this occasion was on the hard shoulder.

3, The Fire and Rescue Service Manual (Volume 2) needs to have explicit guidance on incidents that may occur on carriageways that merge with, or lead to motorways.

4, When attending a vehicle fire on the hard shoulder, there is no clear fire service guidance and therefore the Incident Commander will be expected to make a decision based on their dynamic risk assessment. This could result in variations of operational practices. It is recommended that a defined procedure for all operational activity on the hard shoulder is designed and implemented.

5, The Guidance on Policing Motorways 2006 Manual (GPMM) advises that when a vehicle is on fire the police should close lane one when the burning vehicle is on the hard shoulder so that the Fire and Rescue Service can carry out their duties. This working practice needs to be consolidated and introduced into HFRS and national standard operating procedures.

6, There is no reference to point 5 above in The Fire and Rescue Service Manual Volume 2, entitled Fire Service Operations – Incidents Involving Rescue From Road Vehicles. This needs to be addressed.

7, HFRS has a good relationship with the Highways Agency and is signed up to a Regional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). However, a clear process for communicating the MOU to operational personnel is required in order to maintain operational efficiency across the different agencies.

8, The Highways Agency has invited Command and Control staff to visit their Control Centre in South Mimms and this offer should be taken up for all of Command and Control personnel in order to improve cross-agency working and knowledge of procedures and systems.

9, In addition there should be formalised procedures put in place to ensure all Command and Control staff are aware that they can contact Highways Agency Control to request matrix signs are ‘set’ for incidents on roadways, (this would be at 50mph until a HATO or police officer instructs them further).

10, All high visibility jackets worn were adequate, appropriate and fit for purpose but it is recommended the standard issue should be consistent across all ranks in HFRS.

11, High visibility clothing and all Personal Protective Equipment including head protection must be worn whilst working on any part of a highway. Operational personnel need to be reminded of this requirement.

12, Statistically more accidents and near misses occur during the closing stages of an incident than at any other time. Personnel need to be reminded to continue to be vigilant and alert at the closing stages of an incident.

13, The Fire and Rescue Service are increasingly being called to vehicle fires and also need to be aware of the different types of fuel that could be involved (gas, diesel etc) and the control measures required to deal with these incidents. This information must be included in the appropriate SIS.

14, The Fire and Rescue Service should seek to promote and participate in an active national campaign to raise the public awareness of the dangers associated with stopping on the hard shoulder of motorways and roadways.

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FBU summary of main findings, key lessons & recommendations

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

IFE Commentary & lessons if applicable

None produced at this time.

Known available source documents

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FRS Incident Report/s

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS). (circa 2007). Investigation into Incident Number 10644 RTC A1(M) Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. [pdf] Available here

FBU Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Incident Report/s and/or improvement notices

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Hertfordshire Constabulary Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

East of England Ambulance Service Incident Report

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) Reports/investigations/research

Not applicable.

Coroner’s report/s and/or regulation 28 notices

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Other information sources

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Service learning material

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Videos available

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

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