Fire services are mobilised to incidents in accordance with a system of “pre-determined attendances” (PDAs). PDAs are the instructions given by a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) to the relevant Regional Communications Centre for the initial fire service response to a call for assistance. These include:
- Address PDAs - a listing of the order in which fire service response will be mobilised to any address;
- Incident specific PDAs (e.g. for Domestic Fires, Road Traffic Collisions etc.) setting the numbers and types of appliances to be mobilised to that category of incident;
- Specific Risk Premises PDAs (such as institutional buildings, Airports, Seveso/industrial etc.) listing the number and sequence of appliances for initial dispatch to the specific building.
All PDAs may be varied by the Incident Commander in light of information available regarding the particular circumstances. Part of the function of the three fire service Regional Communications Centres is to mobilise any additional resources ordered by the Incident Commander.
A suite of national fire service PDAs were set out in Appendix A of the national policy document “Keeping Communities Safe”. This included a PDA for high-rise fires, as follows:
Fire – High Rise Building
No persons reported in building
2 Class B Appliances
9 including an officer
Persons reported in building
3 Class B Appliances or
2 Class B + 1 Aerial Appliance
These PDAs were derived from and are based on a ‘Task Analysis’ process associated with each incident type. Fire Services also use Standard Operational Guidance (SOG) to underpin safe and effective operations, including SOG 3.02 'Fire-fighting in High Rise Buildings'.
One of the issues that has arisen as part of the work of the Fire Safety Task Force, which I established on 27 June 2017 in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London to reappraise fire safety in Ireland, concerns the capacity of fire services to deal with evacuation/rescues in single staircase high rise buildings. In light of this, CFOs will be advised to review their current PDAs for high-rise buildings, particularly in cases of single staircase buildings.