Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Control is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by four watches: red, blue, green and white. Control has a control room manager and each watch consists of a watch manager control, crew manager control and firefighter control operators.
Jobs in control are highly sought after, with turnover of control staff generally low.
The majority of control staff work:
- Two day shifts – 9am – 6pm
- Two night shifts – 6pm - 9am
- Four rota days
There are some control staff who work other shift patterns.
The role of a firefighter control operator is to accept emergency calls and obtain as much information as possible about the incident in order to identify and dispatch the nearest possible appliance to the incident. Different incident types will require the attendance of different types of appliance, so the operator is required to maintain their knowledge of brigade policies and procedures in order to do this correctly.
For each incident, the operator will also need to inform officers, other emergency agencies, utilities or other services such as the RSPCA as required. They will also mobilise any further appliances and meet requests from the fireground during a developing incident.
Control is a central point of contact with all NRFS staff and their responsibilities include:
- Emergency calls
- Recording equipment and mechanical faults
- Manning the out-of-hours switchboard for general enquiries
- Updating media summaries
- Keeping the press informed of substantial incidents
- Recording health issues
- Assist with Home Fire Risk Check (HFRC) enquiries and arrange for HFRCs to take place
Control also hold information on all the high risk sites within Norfolk county and all related emergency plans. They also have chemical manuals which assist hazmat officers for chemical incidents and they continually monitor and manage fire cover across Norfolk.
Control are extremely resilient and have fallback equipment and procedures in case of an emergency within the control complex, including our partnership with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Norfolk and Hertfordshire work together to help with call handling when the opposite brigade is experiencing high volumes of emergency calls. There is also provision for the opposite brigade to take full control of receiving emergency calls and mobilising appropriate resources in the opposite county in extreme circumstances.
Norfolk Control are currently working towards an east coast collaboration with Lincolnshire, Humberside and Hertfordshire, which will provide extra resilience for handling emergency calls for all counties by operating on the same mobilising system.