Thursday, 17 October 2019 17:41

Mayday Guideline

I. Purpose

  1. This policy is designed to prepare all personnel for any sudden life-threatening occurrence that may injure, trap, disorient or distress any emergency response personnel during an incident.  This policy will also standardize the language to be used during such incidents, and the circumstances that warrant issuing a MAYDAY or URGENT message.
  2. It is strongly encouraged that all fire leaders, will attempt to create an acceptable culture concerning the use of MAYDAY, teaching and encouraging all fire service personnel that it is “ok” to use a MAYDAY and to do so when they first believe that they are in trouble.

 II. Scope

  1. This policy applies to all members operating on an incident or event.
  2. It is the intent of this guideline to ensure compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  Standard terminology, strike team components, and other resources are identified using NIMS guidelines.


III. Policy

  1. The following radio transmissions are to be used with discretion.  The terms, “Urgent” and “Mayday” must only be used as indicated herein.  They are intended for use in situations where immediate communication is necessary to protect life or prevent injury.
  2. To minimize misunderstanding, the terminology used below is mandatory.  All members must be completely familiar with the terminology and use it exclusively for its intended purpose.
  3. “Mayday” transmissions have priority over “Urgent” transmissions.
  4. Whenever the terms “Urgent” or “Mayday” are transmitted, all radio communications are to cease except those between the member initiating the emergency transmission and Command until advised otherwise by Command.
  5. The Incident Commander will gain control of the radio channel in order to alert all units to a “MAYDAY” or “URGENT” transmission.
  6. In the event that Command does not receive an emergency transmission, the following guidelines shall be adhered to:
    1. The member initiating a “MAYDAY” transmission must, if possible, activate the EMERGENCY BUTTON on their portable radio, thus taking control of the radio channel, and announce “MAYDAY, MAYDAY” until it is acknowledged either by the Incident Commander or an Officer.  After the MAYDAY is acknowledged, and all information relayed, the member will activate their PASS device and monitor the radio.
    2. Members initiating an “URGENT” message will follow the same protocol but WILL NOT activate the emergency button or PASS device.
    3. Any Officer hearing a “MAYDAY” or “URGENT” transmission and realizing that it is not being acknowledged by Command must acknowledge transmission, ascertain the nature of the emergency and promptly relay information to Command.

 IV.  Procedure “MAYDAY”

  1. The “MAYDAY” radio message shall be used to indicate that a life-threatening situation has developed such as:
    1. Becoming trapped or entangled
    2. Cut off by fire
    3. Cut off by collapse
    4. Falling through a floor or roof
    5. Becoming pinned
    6. Any SCBA failure
    7. Firefighter down
    8. Becoming lost or disoriented, or losing a member of your crew.
    9. Anytime a PASS device is fully activated and a PAR report confirms a member in distress.
    10. Structural Collapse during interior firefighting.
    11. Air supply is less than required to exit IDLH atmosphere.
    12. Or any other life threatening condition not listed in the above-specified conditions.
  2. Note:  The term “URGENT” shall NOT be utilized for any of the above situations.  These situations are sufficiently serious to warrant a “MAYDAY” transmission.
  4. Anytime a PASS device is FULLY ACTIVATED for greater than 15 seconds the Incident Commander will initiate or be advised by a member hearing the PASS to initiate a PAR.  If a member is in distress it will be treated as a MAYDAY.
  5. Format:
    1. The member initiating the emergency communication will begin by repeating “MAYDAY” two times followed by the remainder of the message.  The message will include in LUNAR form:
      1. Last Known Location
      2. Unit Number
      3. Notable Event (what happened)
      4. Assignment
      5. Remaining Air, Resources Needed, and Radio Equipped
  6. Example:
    1. Member:  “MAYDAY-MAYDAY.  Command from 2215 Bravo, MAYDAY.”
    2. Command:  “All units STAND-BY, 2215 Bravo from command, proceed with your MAYDAY.”
    3. Member:  “Command from 2215 Bravo, MAYDAY, 2215 Bravo, I was operating on the second floor doing a search when it collapsed.  I have 1500psi in my bottle, I am in a hole, and I have a radio.”
    4. Command:  Received 2215 Bravo, 1500psi in your bottle, fell through the second floor trapped in a hole.  Maintain Radio communication, activate your pass device, we are coming to get you!!”
  7. The Incident Commander will assign resources to assist lost or trapped Firefighter and remain in contact with the downed firefighter via portable radio.


V. Procedure “URGENT”

  1. The “URGENT” radio message shall be used to indicate a serious condition or change in conditions such as:
    1. A firefighter has suffered an injury that is not immediately life threatening, but requires medical assistance.
    2. Signs of structural instability indicating danger of imminent structural collapse.
    3. Sudden increase in fire or smoke conditions that may inhibit firefighter egress.
    4. An interior attack is to be discontinued and an exterior attack instituted.
    5. Loss of water that may endanger firefighters.
    6. Immediate need for additional resources such as:
    7. Ground ladders for trapped occupants in imminent danger.
    8. Immediate alternate means of egress due to fire conditions.
    9. Fire extension into an exposure to a degree that any delay may considerably enlarge the fire problem.
    10. Structural collapse has occurred during defensive operations.
    11. Or any other dangerous condition not listed in the above-specified conditions.
  2. Format:
    1. The member initiating the emergency communication will begin by repeating “URGENT” two times followed by the remainder of the message including LUNAR information.
    2. Example: 
      1. Member:  “URGENT-URGENT.  Command from 2212 Officer, URGENT.”
      2. Command:  “2212 Officer from Command, proceed with your URGENT."
      3. Member:  “Command from 2212 Officer, URGENT, We are located on Division C and I have 2212 Charlie who tripped over a hose and possibly has a broken leg.”
      4. Command:  “2212 Officer from Command, I am sending resources to Division C to assist.”

VI. Responsibility

  1. It is the responsibility of every member to abide by this policy.  It is instituted for the member’s safety and shall not be deviated from.  Officers will be responsible for the correct use of this procedure and enforcement of members who do not comply.

VII.    Closing

  1. All fire departments in Burlington County shall receive a copy of this guideline.  All Chief Officers shall become familiar with this plan.
  2. Any guideline previously published that is in conflict with this guideline is hereby rescinded.



L.U.N.A.R. – An acronym that provides for Location; Unit; Assignment; Notable Event; and Resources needed.  The “N” has been changed from “name” in the national standard to “notable event” in order to conform policy of not transmitting names in radio transmissions.

P.A.R. – Personnel Accountability Report