Skip to main content

Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Provide multiple communications bearers

Control measure knowledge

It is foreseeable that single communication lines, such as the public telecommunication services, could fail temporarily. If this happens it is vital that the call handling agency can still quickly connect an emergency call to the fire control room. It is less likely, although possible, that any alternative line of communications could also fail.

A number of possible routes of communication are available to connect a call handling agency to a fire control room. These include:

  • Fixed private wire systems
  • Public telephone systems
  • Voice over internet provider systems
  • Mobile communication systems

Some fire and rescue services have arrangements in place for calls to be handled by other emergency control rooms if the call handling agency is not able to quickly connect to fire control personnel.

In the same way as lines between call handling agencies and fire control rooms should be duplicated, it is also possible to provide multiple bearers for the mobilising system and communications system.

The mobilisation message to a fire station can be via the fire and rescue service’s wide area network, public telecommunication services, private wire or mobile network. When considering backup bearers it is good practice to spread the risk across more than one of these bearer types.

With communications to resources, which are not at a fire station, a nationally procured solution is currently used for the main communications bearer. However, data and voice traffic can also be passed by mobile or satellite networks. This again spreads the risk of failure and ensures fire and rescue services can meet their duties.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Provide resilience by ensuring they have three communication routes into the fire control room and that at least one of these uses a separate network from the others

  • Consider providing multiple bearers for mobilising systems and communications

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • IHave an understanding of the business continuity arrangements that are required for communications