The Incident Commander (IC) has overall responsibility for incident management. To aid the IC, incident safety officers (ISO) may be appointed to monitor incident operations and advise the IC on all matters relating to operational safety, including the health and safety of emergency responder personnel.


Given the complex nature of fire-fighting activities, there may be incidents where the IC is unable to adequately supervise, communicate with and manage all resources under their control. In these situations, the IC should consider establishing a safety sector and appointing one or more Incident Safety Officers.

Actions for employers

Employers should develop operational guidelines which outline:

  • when a safety sector should be established
  • how the ISO is to be identified at the scene
  • the roles and responsibilities of an ISO
  • the training a worker must receive prior to being assigned as an ISO
  • who should be appointed ISO
  • when and under what authority the ISO can unilaterally alter, suspend or terminate dangerous or life threatening operations
  • that the presence of an on scene ISO in no way diminishes the responsibility of individual officers and the IC for the safety of workers under their direction
  • how the ISO will integrate with the communication system being used

Incident safety officer

An ISO should be a competent person who is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience.

Applicable regulations and acts


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
    • clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable to protect workers

Applicable standards

For standards regarding the job performance requirements of an incident safety officer, read NFPA 1521 Standard for fire department safety officer professional qualifications


Read firefighters guidance notes 2-1 Incident command