Role of Fire Control staff

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Fire Control

A shift in the Control room can vary enormously from one day to the next.

The control room is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is achieved by four watches of four Firefighter Control staff (a minimum of 3 staff are on duty at all times).

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Fire Control shifts

Watch handover
A day shift begins with the handover, where the previous night watch update the oncoming day watch with any events or information of importance.
Set up equipment
Once the handover is completed, the day watch take over the consoles and set their communications equipment up for the day.
Update press releases and rotas
The daily press release and the officers rota must be updated every day at the start of the shift and these tasks are generally shared out among the watch members.
Staffing for wholetime stations
At 9am, the 3 wholetime fire stations (Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford) phone the Control room with their staffing levels for the day. The numbers are checked against the rotas for any discrepancies and the totals are then updated.
Staffing for retained stations
Throughout the morning the retained stations will also phone in to Control to update their staffing numbers, a vital part of the decisions made in the Control room.

The main role of the Firefighters (Control) is to answer the emergency calls and decide what appliances need to be sent to each incident.

Although the mobilising officer is in charge of this decision, each Firefighter (Control) needs to have a good knowledge of what to send, as the mobilising officer may be otherwise engaged during busy spells.

Incidents are logged on the system and the appliances alerted via this same system. During an incident, crews at the incident communicate with Control via the radio so that an accurate incident log may be kept.

Other duties undertaken by Control staff include:

  • booking and amending leave for wholetime staff
  • booking appliance defects
  • updating the sickness register when staff book sick or fit for duty

There is usually plenty to do and the days pass quickly, especially when there is a high volume of emergency calls.

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Fire Control testimonials

As with all jobs, there are positive and negative aspects to working in the Control Room.

Below are some testimonials from Control staff of each rank; from recently recruited Firefighter (Control) to Senior Officers with over 20 years of experience.

Job role: Firefighter (Control)
Length of service: 6 months
Best aspects of job: Working closely in a team with a variety of different people, Potential for promotion, helping the local community, job satisfaction, working shifts and only having to get up early two days a week!
Worst aspects of job: Dealing with difficult members of the public, working at the weekends, wearing the uniform!
Job role: Firefighter (Control)
Length of service: 8 months
Best aspects of job: Variety of incidents, job satisfaction, shift pattern of 4 on 4 off.
Worst aspects of job: Hoax callers.
Job role: Crew Manager (Control)
Length of service: Over 2 years
Best aspects of job: I enjoy the challenging and pressurized environment which involves
a whole range of incidents and activities and the shift pattern of 4 on, 4 off.
Worst aspects of job: Hoax calls, incidents where there has been a loss of life (animal or
human).
Job role: Crew Manager (Control)
Length of service: 5 years
Best aspects of job: Job satisfaction, never knowing what the next call may entail, job is mentally demanding. I love taking emergency calls – gives you a real buzz.
Worst aspects of job: Very long shifts and not being able to go outside. Working in a small room by ourselves – you don’t get to mingle with other people.
Job role: Watch Manager (Control)
Length of service: 30 years
Best aspects of job: Having the ability to influence a situation in a positive way.
Worst aspects of job: The level of responsibility is extremely high.

steve [dot] jones [at] shropshirefire [dot] gov [dot] uk (Steve Jones)
Fire Control Manager
Telephone: 01743 260 200