Vehicle and equipment safety

Security of Fire & Rescue Service Vehicles

 1.  Summary

1.1  The aim of this document is to provide guidance to FRS managers on managing the risks associated with the theft and subsequent use of vehicles and equipment for terrorist attack and major crime activities.  It directly supports the FRS Protective Security Strategy and the physical security workstreams of the CFOA Protective Security Steering Group.

It considers vulnerability of Fire Services vehicles, during initial build, when held at fire stations, during operational use, under maintenance and repair and at the point of disposal.  Overall the Fire and Rescue Services must aim to prevent, or at the very least, reduce the opportunities and risks.  An emergency services vehicle, with blue lights illuminated, with its sirens sounding and approaching a cordon is generally permitted access to a cordoned area.  If that vehicle has been stolen and utilised as a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) the consequences could be catastrophic.

The assistance provided by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and other Emergency Services has been most helpful in preparing this document.  It is recommended that this fact should be recognised by individual Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) when considering their local policies.

Note:  This guidance note is intended to be a living document with periodic reviews by CFOA TOG.  As such suggestions for additional content and amendments will be welcomed.

1.2  It is noted that all Emergency Service organisations have current Security Policies and Procedures in relation to their buildings, vehicles and equipment but that in pure terms there are conflicts between ensuring their availability for operational deployment and security from theft and misuse.

Additionally there are also significant risks when a FRS vehicle is under maintenance and repair, especially when outsourced to a private sector contractor where the intended security could be compromised.

1.3  This paper acknowledges that FRSs may have to implement local procedures to ensure they remain in line with financial limitations, operational requirements or existing contracts.  This may result in policies that differ from those included in this paper but achieve the intended risk reductions.

2. Strategic issues

2.1   NFCC Regional Lead Officers

It is recommended that each NFCC Region appoints a lead Officer to take responsibility for monitoring the application of this policy.

2.2  Fire and Rescue Services:

  • Must concern themselves with the differing ways we deal with vehicle security whilst our vehicles are at Fire Stations, when in operational use and when under maintenance and repair, including outsourced services.
  • Must recognise within their policy the security risks involving other emergency service vehicles as well as vehicles that are operated by other agencies that are or resemble emergency service vehicles.  These include, but are not limited to vehicles being sold directly or at auction, the control and management of leased vehicles, vehicle manufacturer’s demonstration vehicles, commercial premises, private fire engines, private ambulances, blood transfusion and second hand emergency service vehicles used for entertainment or charities.  Where local knowledge exists regarding the external use of vehicles that resemble FRS assets, local policy should indicate a means of recording this information and ensure it is shared with appropriate authorities (e.g. CTSAs, CT(I)U, Operation Fairway Team).

2.3  Terrorism

The change in emphasis on how the international terrorist threat might materialise in the UK, including the opportunity to replicate some of the tactics different groups have used overseas needs to be considered.  This includes use of stolen emergency service vehicles, used as VBIED’s, as well as other uses of emergency service equipment for example in Mumbai, Norway and the USA.

2.4  Staffing

The Security Policy Framework issued by the Cabinet Office is to be consulted regarding personnel checking procedures.  The HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) should be considered as a minimum.

Contractors staff need to be considered in the BPSS process and including those involved in collecting and delivering vehicles and equipment.

All subsequent new members of staff including those of contractor companies should also be subject to the same personnel security procedures prior to their employment.

2.5  Outsourced services

The security of outsourced services’ premises and their staff must be a requirement of the contracts involved.  Sub-contracting by the main agent/contractor to smaller garages must be included in managing the security risks.

2.6  Security of premises

Site security problems are evident for FRSs including at fire stations and whether services are carried out in-house or contracted out; especially where maintenance and repair depots have no secure compound, are open and can be accessed from surrounding streets.

2.7       Vehicle and equipment security group

Every FRS should consider forming a Vehicle and Equipment Security Group. The persons who sit on the group will differ from each FRS and/or CFOA Region.  It should include a senior manager from every department that has activities with staff that have direct access to vehicles and operational equipment with the following personnel needs to be considered.  It is also suggested that co-opted members from the other emergency services or related organisations e.g. Police, Ambulance and MOD etc are considered thus ensuring co-ordination and sharing of best practice are disseminated:

  • Principal Officer or senior officer with Protective Security and/or Counter Terrorism responsibility
  • Fleet Manager
  • Property Services Manager  
  • Training Manager
  • Personnel Manager
  • Contracts Manager
  • Counter Terrorist Security Advisor
  • Health & Safety advisor
  • CFOA liaison officer
  • NILO

The group should cover all aspects of the security procedures surrounding the fleet of vehicles and equipment whilst being used operationally, under repair, delivery and disposal, and formulate a detailed policy procedure, which should complement both reliable operational readiness and the points listed below:

  • Vehicle security features and functions
  • Care at fire stations
  • Care at operational incidents
  • Care at maintenance and repair services
  • Grey fleet
  • Personnel security checking  (BPSS)
  • Outsourced services
  • Premises security measures
  • External assurance issues (e.g. use of private vehicles)

The policy should be reviewed periodically and consideration should be given to it being used within the FRS business continuity plans.

 3.  Specifications, procurement and suppliers

3.1  When specifying vehicles and equipment, the security requirements must be included in the user and output based requirements as well as the subsequent technical specifications.

3.2  A priority consideration should be to equip all vehicles with automatic vehicle location system (AVLS) tracker service, preferably of a type with a remote disabler facility that includes a security alarm in a secure control room that notifies if the vehicle may have been taken without consent.  The aim being for each FRS to be able to pinpoint where each vehicle is located at all times, especially in the event of one which is stolen.  It should be noted that the RESTORE system developed by ACPO can provide much of these recommended requirements.

3.3  Similarly, consideration should be given for vehicles that become an especially high risk when being operated at an incident by equipping them with security systems designed to prevent the vehicle being driven when the engine is running for PTO and ancillary power such as Run Lock.  Consideration should also be given to a run lock type system to provide controlled/managed drive away from fire stations.

3.4  Future consideration should be given by Fleet Managers, in collaboration with other emergency services, to evolving new ‘plug and play’ technology that would allow for the easy removal of certain specialist technical equipment.

3.5  Where high risk equipment such as forced entry, extrication and communications items are stowed in vehicles, their security must be a consideration for vehicle specifications with, such as, separate locking and secure cabinets for these items.

3.6  When enhanced security features and functions become available for new vehicles and new equipment items, FRSs should give consideration to retrospective modification of their existing fleet to achieve the necessary levels of security.

3.7  Framework Agreements

Managers of framework agreements for the supply and disposal of FRS vehicles and equipment should ensure the appropriate elements of this policy are incorporated in the Tender documentation, in particular with regard to security of suppliers’ premises, yards, personnel, collection and delivery services lighting and where applicable, vehicle de-commissioning and vehicle disposal services etc.

3.8  Supplier Involvement

Irrespective of the procurement process involved, suppliers of FRS vehicles should include within their services the following key requirements in relation vehicle security:

  • Vehicles and any high security risk equipment involved in the supply arrangements must be specifically identified to the supplier.
  • During the build/manufacture, testing and delivery of vehicles and equipment their security is to be paramount. Robust and auditable arrangements must be made for their storage, tracking of the asset, control and records relating to the vehicle and high security risk equipment.
  • The security of FRS vehicle whist being delivered, especially vehicles that are already marked, is risk critical and must not to be left unattended during transit.

3.9    Demonstration Vehicles and Equipment:

  • Any manufacturer demonstration vehicles or high security risk equipment should be strictly controlled, and accurate records kept relating to vehicle make, model, registration number and classification of use and the actual users.
  • The manufacturers should be made aware of the risks of leaving such vehicles vulnerable to theft or attack.
  • The manufacturers should be advised to consider and control the risk of allowing other agencies e.g. specialist FRS equipment manufacturers etc. to borrow vehicles and equipment in order to use as a ‘marketing’ platform for their products.
  • Ideally a tracking system, similar to that outlined in item 3.2 above, is fitted to such demonstration vehicles or at least as a minimum standard an auditable location and monitoring system is used.
  • If not sold on to an accredited emergency service all demonstration vehicles should be fully decommissioned at the end of their ‘demonstrator’ life and all related emergency response markings and equipment should be either immediately re-utilised or destroyed.
 4.   Recommendations for vehicles and equipment security when In operational use

4.1   It is important to note that the risks of theft are naturally higher when the vehicle is at a fire station or in operational use.  Normally fire appliances spend on average 90% of their time in the care of operations and less than 10% in workshops; therefore promulgation of good practice to operators and Station staff is paramount.

Fire Station security must be a focus of the vehicle and equipment security policy. The risks of fire stations having any open gates, doors windows etc. must be compensated by alternative security measures that prevent theft of vehicles and equipment. These measures must be documented within the FRS security policy and embedded into working practices and provisions.

4.2   The vehicle and equipment security policy must provide operational systems of work that both cover the operational requirements whilst also preventing vehicles and high security risk equipment from being stolen.

4.3   Operational policies and systems of work must recognise the risk that hoax calls and potential arson incidents may have been arranged to enable fire engines to be stolen.  Vigilance over the security of vehicle and high risk equipment should be emphasised to Crews.

4.4   Vehicles must not be left unattended. Where for operational purposes that is not possible use of a Run Lock type security system is recommended.

4.5   FRS’s civil disturbance and riot protection procedures and systems should be considered and used where appropriate within the vehicle security policy.

4.6   All staff that have access to emergency response vehicles and high security risk equipment should be subject to appropriate personnel security checks.

4.7   The traditional policy of retaining vehicle keys in ignition switches is a security risk.  Where practicable, vehicle keys should be secured in a safe area within the fire station. A higher level of key management security should be considered, for example computer controlled key cabinets.

Where reliable vehicle turnout and operational readiness cannot be achieved with a secure key storage system more sophisticated vehicle immobilisers with controlled secure vehicle start technology should be considered

 5.  Security Policy: fleet and equipment maintenance and repair undertakings

5.1   It must be remembered that while there are vehicle security risks when vehicles are being serviced or repaired at in-house facilities, there is possibly a higher risk where vehicle maintenance and repair is outsourced or sub contracted.

In respect of the maintenance repair and storage of fleet vehicles and equipment being outsourced to private sector organisations, it is recommended that individual FRSs have a documented security policy and procedures set in place and that contractors are made aware of and sign up to their obligations with regard to the items’ security.

5.2   If an outsourced contractor is engaged, best practice would be that suitable personnel security  checks (i.e. BPSS), in line with the individual FRS’s personnel security procedures as well as national guidance, should be carried out on all their staff prior to the company taking up its assignment.

5.3   Part of the contractual requirement should state whether the outsourced company should be allowed to sub contract.  If the successful company is allowed to sub-contract any work to other local companies, organisations etc. the sub-contractor company’s staff and premises should be subject to the same personnel security checks as the main contractor.

5.4   The security of both in-house and outsourced premises should be paramount in the FRS Policy considerations.  Unattended vehicles should always be stored in a secure compound or building, never on the street.  Vehicle keys should be secured in a safe area within the sites buildings and never be left in the vehicles.  A higher level of key management security should be considered, for example computer controlled key cabinets.

5.5   Open-air compounds should have good perimeter fencing with secure access gates, fitted with good quality locks or close shackled padlocks.  Hinges on gates should not be ‘open-ended’ enabling them to be ‘lifted’ off.  Good lighting in the compound is essential, especially if CCTV is to be used.  Lighting levels should be equivalent or better to those advised for secure car parks.  Local Crime Prevention Officers will be able to provide suitable security advice.

5.6   Consideration for CCTV coverage is an added advantage, especially if it can be remotely monitored at local police control rooms.  Suitable procedures regarding retention of archive material and set procedures should be applied to the system requirements.

5.7   Enclosed premises housing vehicles overnight should ideally be equipped with a central station alarm linked to a monitoring station with an immediate police response to any activation.

5.8   All outsourced garages/compounds should be notified to the local Police Force for ‘flagging’ on their command and control systems as a designated emergency services vehicle repair depot.  This will ‘alert’ operators to any calls in the locality, which could affect the premises, any alarm activations, or suspicious persons on premises should trigger an urgent response to such premises.

5.9   Collections and delivery to and from FRS premises should be carried out by authorised staff only, with appropriate identification on their person at all times.  Vehicles collected in the street should never be left unattended prior to collection.

5.10  All contracted staff should be issued photo identification passes.  When on FRS premises, or when driving/towing FRS vehicles, these passes should be worn prominently.

5.11  Prior to collection or delivery of FRS vehicles to outside contractors, all sensitive materials/documents should be removed from the vehicle, also where reasonable and practicable to do so radios, MDTs (Mobile Data Terminals), specialist equipment and ideally any camera equipment should also be removed.  Where it may prove difficult to remove Firelink, Airwave or other radio systems, MDTs, etc. they should be locked out or stunned or other consideration given to ensuring their security. 

5.12 For emergency response marked and equipped vehicles when in the care of maintenance and repair services (in-house or contracted) and especially during road journeys, the siren and emergency lights should be disabled.  The roof mounted blue beacons should be covered and either cover crests and emergency service insignia or conspicuously display signs to the outside, facing at least front and rear, stating that the vehicle is ‘out of service’ and ‘on road test’.

 6.   Security at disposal of vehicles and equipment

6.1  FRSs should have a fully documented and auditable vehicle and equipment disposal policy and procedures that identify the decision to dispose of the vehicle/item, the method of disposal, the third parties who handle the disposal and if sold as complete units the verified name and address of the new owner.

6.2  All livery, emergency service markings, sirens, beacons, emergency response lighting, radios, communications equipment and high security risk equipment should be removed ideally before the vehicle leaves the FRS care for disposal, if not by the FRS then by their authorised vehicle disposal company who have such services written into their contractual agreement. A detailed log of each items disposal process should be supplied back to the FRS for archived records.

6.3  As the most effective method of reducing security risks at the end of their life it is recommended that all emergency response vehicles and high security risk equipment be scrapped and broken.

As part of a Disposal Procedure, at the point of handover a final thorough check of the vehicle should be made to minimise the risk of high security risk equipment being left on the vehicle when it leaves the care of the FRS.

6.4  FRSs should take advantage of licensed and secure disposal services that maximise the recycling of materials and that prevent high security risk items getting into the hands of terrorists and organised crime. With the aim of preventing second life ‘Trojan Vehicle’ use FRSs should also give consideration to specifying and utilising second or more life-cycle use of key emergency service critical elements such as the vehicle body. This is also likely to have the secondary benefit of reducing whole life vehicle costs.

6.5  Where FRSs utilise a leasing or private sector company for the supply of its operational frontline vehicle fleet, then it is imperative that a robust policy that complies with this Guidance Note is set in place to ensure the proper management and security of the assets involved.  It is also imperative that in line with this Guidance Note all leased/private sector provided vehicles are fully decommissioned and specialist equipment accounted for prior to those vehicles going for disposal and/or to auction. It would be the responsibility of the FRS to ensure this is carried out.

6.6  All specialist FRS equipment should be removed from vehicles going for disposal and stored in a secure area, and if not recyclable should be destroyed.  Any equipment removed from lease vehicles by the leasing agent should either have proof that it has been destroyed or is returned to the relevant FRS.

6.7  If vehicles are not broken up at the point of disposal an information sheet should be provided to the auctioneers/new owners regarding the penalties of prohibited use of a vehicle with emergency services markings.

 7.   Information sharing

7.1   FRSs Fleet Managers/CTSAs should be encouraged to share good practice with their counterparts in the Police and Ambulance Services, MOD, HM Coastguard, Blood Transfusion services etc.

7.2   Similar to the DVLA ‘SORN’ system FRSs should keep the local Police and the National Police ‘Operation Camion’ informed of all emergency response fleet vehicles and when and how they are disposed of.

8.   Conclusion

The guidelines remain flexible in that FRSs may invoke changes within the system to cater for their individual needs regarding any alteration in the national terrorist threat or in relation to threats from serious and organised crime that affect them.

With ‘Alert States’ changing, sometimes on a weekly basis, the implementation of a good security policy for vehicles both whilst on operational duty and when under maintenance and repair, will enable FRSs to respond to those changes more effectively.  With enhanced venue security and checks on personnel, any enhanced security checks required during raised alerts, whilst maintaining an appropriate level of security, will allow business to continue as normal and improve resilience.

The contents of this paper are intended to ensure the continued safety, control and protection of FRS vehicles whilst under operational use, under maintenance & repair or in the control of other contractors/organisations and when disposed of in the light of potential changes in the terrorist threat and methodology