On the 1 April 2018 Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Control will be celebrating 70 years of service to the population of Hampshire.
All too often perhaps, when you witness or hear of an incident requiring the attendance of the Fire and Rescue Service, the main consideration is most probably given to the Firefighters involved in the action at ‘the sharp end’.
Behind these professional Firefighters delivering assistance directly to the public, there exists another team of highly trained and skilled professionals. Without the skills and professional judgement of the highly trained members of Control, the Firefighters could not operate as effectively as they do 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
There have been many technological changes over the years to improve the method and the speed at which fire engines are mobilised, and in fact Control as well as mobilising for Hampshire and since the 1st April this year for the Isle of Wight, but also since the inception of the Networked Fire Services Partnership can if need be, in spite of conditions, mobilise on behalf of Dorset & Wiltshire and Devon & Somerset.
Control personnel must be able to answer calls for assistance, often from a distressed caller, extract all of the required details, a task often made difficult by panic or distress affecting the caller, correctly analyse the needs, consider the scale of response and mobilise the most appropriate appliances from the selected stations.
As the incident progresses there may well be reinforcement moves both to the incident and to cover at empty fire stations, followed by subsequent reliefs. At the same time, operators will be answering repeat phone calls to the same incident and mobilising to simultaneous incidents throughout the County.
Control deal with a huge variety of calls from, animal rescues, coresponder calls (assisting our colleagues within the Ambulance service), road traffic accidents, assisting our police colleagues with searches, fire alarms, pipe lines leaking, lifts and many other types of calls. In fact over 100 different types of incidents we can attend!
During spate weather periods - fires related to hot, dry weather, damage caused by strong winds, flooding caused by rainstorms, high tides and post freezing thaw - the number of telephone calls handled can be staggering during any given duty shift.