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Pre-hospital management of burns by the UK fire service
  1. A Walker1,3,
  2. R Baumber2,
  3. B Robson3
  1. 1ED Consultant, Mid Yorkshire Trust, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Student, University of Leeds Medical School, Leeds, UK
  3. 3West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A Walker
 Mid Yorkshire Trust, Pontefract General Infirmary, Friarwood Lane, Pontefract, WF8 1PL, UK;


Objective: To determine the current policies and practice of UK fire services for the management of burns patients.

Methods: Structured telephone questionnaire covering formal policies including patient assessment, oxygen and entonox use, burn assessment and treatment, and paediatric patients and training.

Results: The questionnaire was completed by 74% of the UK Fire Services (n = 46); only 14 had a specific written policy for the management of burns. Most services use “ABC” or “First Aid at Work” principles, although five have no formal guidelines for patient assessment. Oxygen is given by 44 services, all services cool burns with water and/or dressings, and 31 assess burn size. The same protocols are used for both adults and children by 29 brigades, while two brigades use lower oxygen concentrations for children. Only three brigades receive joint training from the fire and ambulance services.

Conclusions: UK firefighters are in an ideal position to provide early assessment and treatment of burns, but there is currently a wide variation in the fire services’ management of these patients. There is a need for clear evidence based national guidelines for all pre-hospital providers to standardise patient care for burns. A suggested protocol is included in this report.

  • FAW, First Aid at Work
  • HSE, Health and Safety Executive
  • burns
  • fire service
  • pre-hospital

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