Firefighters, as part of their work, may participate in interior fire fighting and rescue situations.


Interior fire fighting and rescue situations are among the most dangerous operations that firefighters will work in, due to the potential for building collapse.

Actions for employers

Employers must make firefighters aware of the potential for building collapse.

Awareness of the potential for building collapse

Consider including the following topics when training firefighters on the risks of building collapse:

  • building use and contents
  • whether occupants are at risk and search and rescue is required
  • contents-only fire versus building structure involvement
  • existence and working order of fire protection systems
  • length of time of fire involvement and fire load/materials burning
  • voids that may provide undetected paths for fire spread such as drop ceilings, balloon construction, duct and conveyor systems, horizontal open joists, and small loft or attic areas
  • impact of heat on structural elements such as unprotected steel columns, cables, joists, nail plates or gussets
  • impact of content load, weight of fire fighting water, snow or other loads on building integrity
  • buildings under construction/alteration or in a dilapidated or abandoned condition pose extra hazards
  • indications of building weakness or pending collapse
  • probable collapse sequence should it occur

Protective measures for building collapse

Consider the following protective measures:

  • pre-fire plans may provide critical risk assessment and decision making information for incident commanders
  • identification and maintenance of escape paths during interior operations
  • establishment of collapse/safety zones
  • a standardized evacuation signal
  • monitoring air supply to make sure it is sufficient for the time required to enter or exit the building

Applicable regulations and acts


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
    • clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
    • clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers


Read firefighter guidance notes: