Note: You presentation will follow tomorrow evening (your time). ThanksFIRE & RESCUE SERVICE MANAGEMENTINCIDENT COMMANDBuncefield IncidentThe IncidentIn the morning of December 11, 2005, large parts of the Buncefield Oil Storage and Transfer Depot at Hemel Hempstead were destroyed by a series of explosions and subsequent fire. The first large explosion occurred at around six in the morning that was followed a huge fire that engulfed 23 large fuel storage tanks in the Buncefield site. The incident also caused extensive damage to nearby properties but nobody was killed or seriously hurt.
However, a number of commercial and residential structures were severely damaged and sections of the M1 motorways were closed to traffic. The fire nearly destroyed most of the site and burned for five days releasing large plume of smoke into the atmosphere and scattered over and beyond southern England. Why an effective incident command need to be established in large scale incidentsAn Incident Command or ICS is generally know as a management tool to effectively handle incident by combining facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications within one command structure. Typically, an Incident Command has five main functional areas- Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance (Becker 2008, p. 154).
During a major incident, numerous agencies normally respond and unfamiliar and unexpected task are required. At first glance, the situation seems to require more equipment, materials, and personnel to stabilize. However, this is not the case when incident management use an Incident Command system since resources would be staged rather than just chaotically applied it. It is structured to enable manageable span-of-control helping responders to control and track activities and personnel without become overloaded by tasks (Balog 2005, p. 3). In a large scale incident like Buncefield, an effective incident command would be beneficial since many agencies, resources, personnel, and equipment were required.
The response to the Buncefield incident, according to the investigation board initial report, highlighted the need for effective emergency arrangements (Buncefield Investigation Board 2006, p. 2). In the timeline of the event, a major incident was declared at around 6:08 am but the Strategic Coordinating Group or Gold Command was convened only three hours later at around 9:00am. Although the first responders particularly the fire and rescue services and the police were impressive considering the size of the incident, the Buncefield incident according the recommendation of the board is a” multi-agency task that requires a clear lead” (Buncefield Investigation Board 2006, p. 22).
Apparently, the board noticed something wrong with the emergency response command and it has reminded everyone concerned that an effective emergency response depends on the initiatives and good working relations of the responders (Buncefield Investigation Board 2006, p. 51). The first comment given by the investigation board is the lack of clearly defined role for people who will give health advice at the Gold Command and Control Centre to local responders.
Moreover, there were no local agreements that would allow health agencies to decide quickly who will do what in any incident to support the Gold Command on things they need. Secondly, the availability and sufficiency of materials and equipment for the response were not known. Third, communications between the Gold Command and government offices were a problem since there was no liaison staff to coordinate the work. The communications were not managed efficiently and the level of technical and human resources cannot sustain the demands of the response and recovery phases.