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by the NFCC


Overwhelmed/overloaded communications systems

Hazard Knowledge

For generic guidance on communication systems either within fire control rooms or at an incident ground. See National Operational Guidance: Operations – Failure to handle emergency calls and mobilise resources in a timely manner and National Operational Guidance: Incident command – Communication strategy.

Overwhelmed communications systems in fire control rooms

Due to the effects of a major incident, the fire and rescue service fire control room could experience disruption to the telephone links from the local telephone exchange, resulting in a loss of 999 calls. This could be as a result of either spike or spate conditions.

Overloaded emergency services radio communications system

A digital radio network is used by all three emergency services as well other non-blue light organisations. It provides a range of features including interoperable voice communications and wide area communications. However, the digital network does have capacity limitations as the capacity on local base sites is built for business as usual plus a 20 per cent headroom. This means that during a major incident, where a much larger than normal amount of resources may attend, the carrier network could become congested or exceeded if not managed correctly. This could result in users being denied access. Fire and rescue services should make arrangements to avoid such congestion at an incident ground.