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Control measure

Use technology to mobilise fire and rescue service resources

Control measure knowledge

Fire control personnel should have the knowledge to identify the capabilities and location of fire and rescue service resources and specialist equipment; this will aid them when making decisions. When fire control rooms are busy and information is being gathered from numerous sources, or multiple calls on different incident types are being handled, fire control personnel may have to redeploy resources from one incident to another after carrying out a dynamic risk assessment of each call.

Mobilising systems can display predetermined attendances from their address-based gazetteer and incident type list, to display the nearest resource using an automatic vehicle location system (AVLS). However, fire control personnel should monitor, review and update the resource availability and movement. They can also manually override the mobilising system if a certain resource has become available nearer to an incident, thereby reducing vehicle movements.

Technological solutions can be used to provide mapping information, or to mobilise fire and rescue service resources. These will assist fire control rooms in retrieving and mobilising the nearest relevant resources, after collating call handling information and the correct predetermined attendance.

Geographical information systems

Fire control rooms benefit from being able to clearly visualise caller, incident, resource, and in some cases, risk data. The map-based visualisation of information provided by geographical information systems (GIS) helps them to make more informed decisions.

The GIS functionality in mobilising systems may enable fire control personnel to attach or create risk information for specific locations. They may, for example, denote temporary road closures, planned major events, Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI), hydrant data, tactical and COMAH plans. These can aide mobilising decisions and may also be used to provide information to personnel.

These systems may contain information regarding appropriate rendezvous points (RVPs), deployment points or strategic holding areas (SHAs), or may be used to identify appropriate places to be used where no pre-planned arrangements exist.

Automatic vehicle location systems

Many resources deployed by fire and rescue services now carry communication equipment that makes use of the global positioning system (GPS) to provide details of location. These are usually referred to as automatic resource location systems (ARLS) or automatic vehicle location systems (AVLS). This information can be displayed on the GIS in control rooms, enabling fire control personnel to confirm the locations of resources.

AVLS provides the exact location of individual fire and rescue service vehicles. This enables the mobilising system to propose the nearest available resource that is appropriate to dispatch to an incident. AVLS improves efficiency, as the mobilising system knows the exact location of resources without human intervention. It also strengthens the speed and accuracy dimension of resilience by enabling the fastest appropriate resources to be identified. The system uses a road network layer to calculate the resource times, taking into account:

  • Resource capabilities or restrictions
  • Current road conditions
  • Whether traffic congestion is being caused by the incident

Benefits of mobilising technology

Benefits of using GIS and AVLS technology include the ability to:

  • Confirm the location of an incident: when the location details for an incident are entered into the incident capture form on the mobilising system (either from EISEC or manually), the incident location can be displayed on the GIS. If there is any doubt or ambiguity about the information the caller is providing, fire control personnel can refer to the map on GIS to obtain information on adjacent properties, streets and landmarks. This can be used to confirm any location on any incident.
  • Select deployment points: the GIS supplied with some mobilising systems enables fire control personnel to 'click' on the GIS to designate the location of an incident, rendezvous point or deployment point rather than selecting from the gazetteer. This provides useful information on larger incidents, for example general hospitals, motorways and trunk roads and gives a more precise location of incidents and information to responding personnel.
  • Display the location of resources: use GIS linked to AVL software to show the location of available fire and rescue resources
  • Display the availability of resources: the operational status of a resource can be displayed on the GIS. This enables fire control personnel to view the availability of resources
  • Validate resource proposals: fire control personnel can use the GIS information for resource status information, which validates resources proposed by mobilising systems. This ensures that the nearest appropriate resources are dispatched to an incident. It will also provide a sense check for search engines embedded in the mobilising systems.
  • Inform closing-in moves: using the operational status and location information provided by the GIS, fire control personnel make informed decisions on fire cover moves. If an area is depleted of fire cover but resources are available on mobile duties nearby, fire control personnel may choose to send a standby vehicle to an empty station or area.
  • Add risk information: the GIS functionality in mobilising systems may enable fire control personnel to attach or create risk information for specific locations. They may, for example, denote temporary road closures, planned major events, Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI), hydrant data, tactical and COMAH plans. These can aid mobilising decisions and may also be used to provide information to personnel.

Dynamic risk assessments

A dynamic risk assessment should be carried out for each call received, taking into account:

  • Any requirement to redeploy resources from one incident to another
  • Validation of resource proposals
  • Any available risk information or pre-planning arrangements
  • Passing of any relevant information to personnel attending the incident
  • Considering the need for any fire cover moves
  • Re-evaluating initial risk assessment and updating other emergency responders as necessary

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider providing fire control rooms with technological solutions to mobilise fire and rescue service resources 

Tactical actions

Fire control personnel should:
  • Retrieve and mobilise the relevant resources using service systems and procedures

  • Designate the location of an incident and rendezvous points (RVPs) or deployment points if appropriate

  • Carry out a dynamic risk assessment of each call