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Becoming a Fire Control Operator

The Control Operator role is a unique and dynamic one.

The working environment can change in an instant from the routine and relaxed to an atmosphere charged with a buzz and tension that comes with a full on emergency. Such situations involve processing numerous numbers of calls, large scale mobilising of resources, working with partners and other organisations and supporting the organisational structure of the incident. Working together as a team to support each other at such times, and all the while learning transferable skills that you'll keep for life and building close personal bonds of a fire family.

What is Fire Control?

A Fire Control Operator is the first point of contact for a member of the public when dialling 999 to inform the fire service of an emergency. Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) strive to employ professional, highly skilled, and dedicated Fire Control Operators to ensure we have the right people to deal with varied incidents. The incidents can range from small/large fires, water rescue, animal rescue, road traffic collisions, rescue from height/depth to assisting other emergency services with incidents involving significant threats to life or property. 

Fire Control follows a rank structure, this is the same structure as the Fire Crews who work on the fire engines. The structure is:

  • Firefighter (Control)
  • Crew Manager (Control)
  • Watch Manager (Control)

Fire Control Operators play a vital role in supporting an emergency incident. They are there from the first call until the incident is safely resolved.

Fire Control Operator provide support to colleagues within HFRS such as Public and Businesses Safety, by undertaking activities out of hours to continuously support their protection and prevention work.

Find out more about the role by clicking the titles below.

Role of a Fire Control Operator

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) Control Operators work in the Control Suite based at HFRS Headquarters in Hull. HFRS cover a large area which includes many possible risks such as, windfarms, airport, rivers, oil refineries, heritage buildings, docks, high rise buildings, motorways, lakes, many rural villages/towns, and airfields.

Fire Control Operators are always prepared and ready to deal with any emergency call.

Their duties include:

  • Handling emergency and administrative calls
  • Obtaining clear and accurate details of incident locations and mobilising the correct resources
  • Passing calls to other agencies, obtaining assistance from, or helping other Services
  • Informing the appropriate Officers of incidents requiring their attention
  • Updating incident logs with all messages
  • A knowledge of specialist equipment and resource requirements for each incident type
  • Monitoring and maintaining the availability of fire cover across the Humber area
  • Liaising with Fire Crews at incidents to ensure that they have the required
  • Updating of social media sites, such as Twitter
  • Co-ordinating incidents requiring a multi-agency or Emergency Service response
  • Keeping people calm and giving lifesaving guidance to trapped callers within high-pressure situations
  • Maintaining comprehensive and accurate records of appliances, equipment and Officer availability within the Humber area.
  • Undertaking prevention-based activities, including taking Safe and Well calls, completing the relevant questionnaire with members of the public and sign posting them to the prevention team
  • Dealing with out of office issues such as staff sickness, protection and prevention enquiries and reception calls
  • Undertaking training activities

Fire Control Operators use a mobilising system called Vision 4 which assists them to provide the public with the quickest response to an emergency incident. Vision 4 has the facility to communicate with Fire Crews and Officers on scene, utilising mobile data technology. Vision 4 with British Telecomm to provide Advanced Mobile Locations (AML) which enables Fire Control Operators to pinpoint a caller’s locations within a 5-50 meter area. Not all phones are equipped with AML but Vision 4 can pick it up, which enables a more accurate and timely response.

Fire Control Operators ensure that an emergency fire response is always maintained and accessible to members of the public, regardless of the demand or scale of ongoing incidents. Fire Control is strategically managed to ensure that all incidents can be dealt with effectively and efficiently, concentrating resources where they’re most required.

Requirements for the role

To become a Fire Control Operator you must be at least 18 years old at the time you apply and have the following essential skills.

  • Keyboard experience with good analytical skills
  • Have the ability to type at a minimum speed of 30 words per minute
  • Ability to attain a required standard of proficiency in written and practical educational tests
  • Ability to communicate effectively with people
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to work with others as part of a close team
  • Ability to receive and record data accurately
  • Have a good level of verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience in dealing with members of the public
  • Successful contribution to teamwork
  • Experience of working in a call centre environment
  • Ability to demonstrate commitment to learning
  • Educated to GCSE level English or equivalent
  • Have effective customer service skills (internal and external)
  • Be able to effectively manage data
  • Show understanding of HFRS Policies, including Equality and Diversity Policy and Health and Safety Policy
  • Ability to work rotating shifts, which include nights, Bank Holidays and weekends
  • Work a 42-hour week shift system which includes two day shifts and two-night shifts
  • Have a flexible approach in relation to the needs of the role

Training and development

Currently the initial Fire Control training course is a four week programme. The course is a very intensive and staff are expected to study in their own times. The training course is during the day, which includes theory and practical elements. Progress is continuously monitored by an instructor throughout the course by a series of written and practical tests to confirm knowledge and understanding.

On successful completion of the initial training course, staff then join their assigned Watch. The Crew and Watch Manager are given a full report by the instructors and will continue to support and develop staff whilst on Watch.

Newly trained Fire Control Operators will have an experienced Fire Control Operator sitting with them; this is to ensure they are supported and supervised until confidence on Watch and in the new role builds.

As the period of close supervision ends (which is usually three months) staff will sit their three month assessment which involves theory questions and practical assessments. This assessment confirms if staff can carry out their role as a Fire Control Operator with no close supervision. There will is always a ratio of one Firefighter (Control) and one Crew/Watch Manager (Control) in the room at all times. After successful completion of the three-month assessment, staff undertake a series of assessments for the next two years. These assessments occur every three months, this will be a continuous period of learning and development.

Upon successful completion of your 24-month assessment staff will become a competent member of the Watch and will no longer need to sit regular assessments. However, personal development will continue throughout a Fire Control Operators career. There will be exciting opportunities to progress through the ranks, experiencing different roles in Fire Control once competent and ready for further development.

Salary and benefits

There are many benefits available to staff who work for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS).

HFRS offer realistic promotion opportunities. To progress, you’ll need to develop your skills and demonstrate a level of competency within your current role, before completing a theory and practical assessment followed by an interview process to determine your suitability for the next role.

Annual Leave

Fire Control staff have 30 days leave allowance per year, after five years employment as a Fire Control Operator you will be entitled to three extra days leave, these are known as long service leave days.

Salary

Salaries for the Fire Control Operator role are as follow:

  • Trainee Rate £22,641
  • Development Rate £23,585
  • Competent Rate £30,179

Find out more benefits by clicking here.