Fire Control is the nerve centre for emergencies, involved in every incident from beginning to end, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service's Fire Control function is delivered by a highly skilled team based at Hindlip, Worcester. Fire Control is staffed by four watches who work a combination of day and night shifts using a 2, 2, 4 shift-based system. Day shifts commence at 08:00 hours and night shifts commence at 20:00 hours.
When anyone in Herefordshire or Worcestershire dials 999 and asks for the fire service, the call goes through to our Fire Control. That call will be swiftly answered by a highly-trained operator (known as a firefighter control) who will:
- Find out where the incident is. We pinpoint the incident location so that we can get an emergency response to the scene as quickly as possible. We do this by combining call-handling skills, the latest mapping software, and local knowledge and experience.
- Find out what is going on. We respond to fires, vehicle collisions, water rescues, hazardous material incidents, and many other types of emergencies. We need to understand what’s going on and what’s involved so that we can send out the most appropriate crews and equipment, and keep crews and the public safe.
- Mobilise the crews. Once we know where it is and what it is, we identify the nearest and most appropriate assets, with the correct equipment to deal with the emergency and send them on their way immediately.
- Give survival guidance and advice. Caller safety is absolutely imperative and we are all trained to provide survival guidance. The purpose of this is to aid the survival or escape of a person trapped by fire, water or other hazards in the time between the call being placed and the arrival of fire crews.
- Communicate and co-ordinate. Fire Control’s involvement doesn’t finish when we put the phone down to the caller – it’s only just begun. We are in constant communication with the crews for the duration of the incident, exchanging vital information as it progresses, acting on quickly changing situations. We mostly communicate via digital radio, but we also use MDTs (tablet-like devices on fire engines) and mobile phones. We record all information on our mobilising command and control system.
- Talk to partner agencies. We frequently collaborate with Police, Ambulance, and other agencies where multiple emergency services are needed, utilising each other’s expertise.
We have many other important duties, which includes checking that essential equipment is functioning, keeping vital information up-to-date (such as availability of fire appliances, crews, and officers), and maintaining our skills by undertaking training and awareness.
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