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Attending Incidents

When you dial 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service, your call is sent to the emergency call handling centre. The centre routes all calls for your area to the Critical Control Centre (CCC). Calls are normally answered within 1 to 5 seconds. Control will confirm with you the address of the incident and help will be dispatched to you immediately.

How does the Critical Control Centre make this happen?

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When your call is received, control staff enter details in the Command and Control system. This system automatically finds the closest fire engines and Officers to respond.  It also activates the turnout system at the nearest fire station.  This turns on the:

  • audible alarms
  • part-time firefighters personal alerters
  • lights at night
  • any other facilities connected to it

The address of the call is sent to the fire station teleprinter and the Officers' pagers.

CCC initially mobilise to each incident with a specific response.  This is called a Pre-Determined Attendance (PDA).

The PDA to an incident will vary considerably dependent on many considerations, such as:

  • Location
  • Type of Incident
  • Type of Property (eg High Rise/Hospital)
  • Crewing (personnel) required
  • Equipment required

Find out more about the Critical Control Centre.

The Service operates radio equipment within their vehicles. All officers and appliances attending incidents can keep the CCC informed of where they are and what they are doing.

When they arrive at the incident, they may need more help. This is requested over the radio scheme. All requests for further assistance are monitored by the CCC. They have a complete overview of all the resources which are available in the area and the neighbouring counties.  They can quickly mobilise more fire engines, or any specialist appliances, to support those in attendance.

To ensure that all details, such as road and place names, are communicated accurately, please use the nationally recognised Phonetic Alphabet.

One of the important jobs that the CCC operators have to do, is to ensure that fire and rescue cover is maintained at fire stations.  This is so that when further calls are received, adequate appliances can be mobilised. Control operators will make standby moves, mobilising fire engines to fire stations to ensure that they are available for subsequent incidents.

Every call and radio message is automatically recorded at the time. When the CCC know that there is no emergency, this recorded information can be used as evidence. People making false alarm calls can be prosecuted. Hoax calls can mean that fire engines mobilised to such incidents can reduce availability and response times for real emergency situations.

Firefighters normally respond to every emergency call that is made. If they arrive at an address and find out that it's a hoax, it may delay them in attending a serious emergency incident.  They may be needed to rescue someone trapped in a house fire or road traffic collision.

In many emergencies, every second really does count. Increasing the time it takes the fire crews to respond could mean the difference between saving a life or losing one. Therefore diverting an appliance through a hoax call could have a major impact.

All 999 calls made to the Fire and Rescue Service are recorded and can be instantly traced back to the caller. This doesn't just apply to land lines. Even calls from public phone boxes and mobile phones are taped and could be traced. Even dialling the prefix '141' will not block your identification when making a 999 call.

It is illegal to make a hoax emergency call. People can, and have been, heavily prosecuted for making hoax calls with a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.

Remember - the Fire and Rescue Service knows the phone number you called from, and has a recording of your voice!

The average recorded cost of hoax calls is approximately £250 per call out.

Find out more information and statistics by viewing our page on hoax calls.

You can view a list of incidents that we have attended recently on our news desk

For more detailed information and additional statistics, view the Risk Based Evidence Profile.