Working in Fire Control
At 8.45am the day shift arrives to take over from the night shift. They have been working for 15 hours and look like they’re ready to go home!
Handover between Watch Managers is the first important task of the day and, if it’s the first shift for the on-coming Watch after their four day break, then there may be some extra information they need to catch up on.
When the emergency line rings, it’s a race to see who can pick up the call first! The Crew Manager will listen in to the call if it is taken by a more junior member of the Control Room team, to make sure the correct details are being taken and information passed on.
Emergency calls come in thick and fast during the shift. Some don’t actually need us to attend, and the advice given can often help the caller with their problem. On the other hand, we regularly speak to people who are part of, or have witnessed, a distressing incident. A compassionate and friendly voice is the most vital part of our armoury, because we know that calming the caller down will give us a better chance of getting the information we need.
An incident log needs to be completed for each incident dealt with and print-outs sent to various departments for information. The Police sometimes need details of incidents for their own investigations and we provide them with recordings.
Working in the Control Room doesn’t mean that the staff only answer 999 calls all day or night. There is a regular flow of administrative calls that need to be dealt with, too. These can be as simple as updating the availability of our retained firefighters, to a more complex call from a member of the public who is concerned about fire regulations at a commercial premises where they work. These enquiries often lead to more calls to gain advice from a specialist in that area.
And when the phones fall silent there is a variety of administrative tasks to deal with and training to complete. In fact, the staff often use the quiet time to brush up on their skills by testing each other on their knowledge.