Fire services join forces to answer 999 calls

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has joined forces with fire services in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Humberside to answer 999 calls more effectively in even the most testing conditions.

The four fire services have linked their control rooms together to offer an even better, more resilient service resulting in quicker response times.

Each fire and rescue service will continue to maintain a 999 control centre, but staff in any one of them would be able to handle calls from across all four areas and mobilise local fire crews, if necessary.

Aided by improved technology, the combined operations of four control rooms is expected to make for a more resilient service that is better able to meet the demands of busy periods and major emergencies.

Darryl Keen, Chief Fire Officer at Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The vast majority of 999 calls to Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue will continue to be answered by our control centre in Hertfordshire, but this partnership gives us a robust back-up so we can continue to answer calls and mobilise fire crews however busy we get and whatever nature throws at us.”

As well as linking four control rooms on to a single network, the programme has also harmonised operating procedures and ways of working across the four services. As a result, members of the public and operational crews will be dealt with in the same way, whichever control room they end up connected to.

Hertfordshire chose Norfolk, Humberside and Lincolnshire to team up with as the geographical distance between the areas means that it’s highly unlikely all four would be affected by a serious incident, such as severe weather, at the same time. Hertfordshire and Norfolk already have a buddy arrangement which has seen Hertfordshire controllers answering calls about flooding in Norfolk during periods of intense rainfall and vice versa.

Hertfordshire moved across to the system on 28 November and Humberside will transfer in January, with Lincolnshire and Norfolk following later in the year.