Wednesday, December 27

Christmas Wishes

Timed with annual leave and then straight onto Christmas Shifts, things have been a little hectic round here! I know its a couple of days late but I hope you all had a very merry uneventful Christmas Day.

The run up to Christmas is usually a 'run-down', calls tickling in seeing that most arsonists are busy buying/nicking presents. The only incidents that never relent are RTC's.

However, this year was different. I think I may have even forgot that I was wearing tinsel around my headset and a flashing Santa badge. We have been busy in the run up, on the 'big' day (so I have been told, I was lucky this year with not having to work it!!) and now the in-betweeny period. Over the last few days we have had..... 10, 6 and 4 pump fires, 1 male deliberately setting fire to themselves, firefighter injuries, numerous serious RTC's, lock outs stating the turkey is in the oven and 1 very special person rang up at 0100hrs to request a smoke detector! I think they were more surprised than we were that someone actually answered their call!!

Right then, I am off to carve a bit more turkey onto a plate full of pickle, home made chips and bread sauce. Skirt feeling slightly tighter but I am sure it is because I accidentally put the wash on a hotter temp this week. New Year, new diet, new resolutions to be broken.......

Wishing you all the best for 2007

Monday, December 4

Thoughts with East Sussex Fire & Rescue

Most of you will have heard the very tragic news that 2 Fire Service Personnel lost their lives yesterday at a firework blaze.

1 member was a full time Fire Control Operator who worked the retained system, the other being a retired firefighter who was re-employed as a Brigade Photographer and Video Cameraman.

This news has been deeply upsetting for every individual that is employed within the Fire Service throughout the UK. Flags have been at half mast.

My thoughts are with the families and colleagues of these two men.

A very sad day within the Fire Service.

Tuesday, November 14

Grudge Holders? Too right we are!

I few shifts ago I had a heated conversation with a Station. They needed to book Unavailable for fire calls in order to take part in a community event that had been planned for some time. Fire Control required them to stay on the run due to lack of fire cover.

We have a system where we can allow a certain amount of appliances to book off the run in order to carry out training, community fire safety etc. They can book this in advance and usually it goes ahead as planned. However on this day, the question was asked to my supervisor and the answer was No, not at the moment. This was then relayed to the OIC at the station who sounded as if he was about to explode. He couldn't understand why we would not allow him. I explained the situation, ie there was a large incident going on across the city and although he was not required to attend this at the moment, until all the relief crews had been assigned, all appliances were to remain on the run. He raised his voice, maybe to get me to understand more. I raised my arm to get my suspervisors attention, who then clicked in to listen. Apparently, Fire Control don't understand the effort that is required when organising a large community event. Apparently, Fire Control don't understand that lots of people have been involved in this event. Apparently, Fire Control are letting every single one of them down by this selfish act. He will be contacting his Line Manager to complain about us.

Now here was me thinking that we all worked together as a team. Here was me thinking that a little understanding goes a long way. As a Control Room, we are more than aware of commitments that are made by Stations. We are more than aware that a lot of effort, involving many months worth of work, is put in by Stations in order to make our communities safer. We are more than aware that when we ask an appliance to remain on the run we are disappointing a lot of people who have also put in a lot of effort and time from other organisations. But above all, we KNOW that by raising one's voice to Fire Control does not achieve anything, it does not make us change our mind, it does not make what you are saying any more significant. Unfortunately all it does is put oneself above everyone else on the 'Relief List'.

He did manage to get his appliance off a little later in the day. He also managed to volunteer his entire crew for the 3am relief duties the following night shift.

Saturday, November 11

Look at my new blog!

Wow, check me out! I have done all this by myself, no help whatsoever. I'm liking it. Let me know your thoughts on it.

I am stuck however on one thing. I wish to change the picture right at the top, to something more Fire Service related, and I can't work out how to. Any technical help will be very much appreciated.

I'm feeling very smug with myself today. I may have a treat for being so clever.

Tuesday, November 7

Bonfire Night

The week before Bonfire night I had the same question from friends and family.... Is it really busy on the 5th November? My standard response, having worked several over the years, is not really, everyone thinks it is but many people don't bother to call in fires or smoke they can see as they put it down to 'Bonfire Night'.

Well they is always a danger that I am wrong. As a female in Fire Control, I can assure you it doesn't happen very often mind, but this year, wow. What a weekend!!

The majority of our incidents were firework related. Mainly isolated letting off of highly explosive materials that are brought as easily as a loaf of bread. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE fireworks, the ooohhhh-ing and the aaarrrrrgggghhhh-ing and all the pretty colours. We have seen over the weekend the dangers that this brings. So many injuries, damaged property and heartbroken relatives. No doubt on your local news there have been articles on some terrible accidents. Is it worth it?

Monday, September 25

Stupid Questions?

We received a call this morning to a car fire. Mobilised one fire engine. Message received from said fire engine. Fire is arson. Inform Police. No requirement for Police to attend. Owner of vehicle is at 888 High Street, Police to liaise.

Now I think this is pretty self explanatory. Passed details to Police. Police controller then rang back.

'Can you tell us if you need us?'
'We have come away from the incident now but the owner of the vehicle lives at 888 High Street, fire is arson. We have passed this to your main control about 10 mins ago.'
'So is it suspicious?'
'Yes, the fire is arson.'
'Do you need us to attend?'
Banging head on table, checking headset, hello, are you listening to me??

To be fair, it was the very early hours of the morning. And my patience had been drained gradually away throughout the night by rude people, malicious people and people who seemed to be doing their own thing and telling me answers to questions I hadn't asked!

I have been very drained recently. I came home off nights the other morning and answered the phone to my electricity company - Fire Service. It was very confusing, especially as I had no idea that I had done it either!! Oh how I laughed all the way to bed!

Monday, September 11


5 years ago today I was at work. I was on my lunch break. It had been a normal day until then. We were on first lunch so after watching about 20mins we went back into the Control Room and explained to the crew what had happened. We then started to contact all our senior officers. We kept receiving faxes from London FB to put our Search and Rescue Teams on standby. There was nothing going on in the Brigade apart from the informing. Everyone was very somber, watching the developments on a big screen. Once again going into 'super efficient' mode.

Then we received a 999 call. A suspect package in a bus station. Everyone became very aware exactly what that meant. It turned out to be a hoax, along with about 3 others received that day. Why would people think of doing something like that normally, but on that day? What had been going through their minds?

We all finished our shift and sat in the rest room for a while after. No-one wanted to go home. It had been a very emotional day. Our thoughts went to the Control Room in New York. How would we have dealt with it? Losing all contact with your Command Units, fire appliances, senior officers.

It still feels very fresh even though it has been 5 years. There have been some comments on how long do remember something like this. At what point do you stop with the memorials? I don't know. What do you think?

Friday, September 1

Do you believe everything you read?

Merseyside Fire Service are about to embark on industrial action. Whilst reading the news reports of the situation it took me back to when we came out for the National Strike. One side says one thing and the other side deny it.

Firefighters and Control Operators are striking due to fire station closures, shift changes and loss of posts. This does not mean that firefighters going to work will face a redundancy letter tomorrow, but it means that those retiring will not be replaced. My Brigade has gone through some serious shift changes and it has been very disruptive to fire cover.

So what does this mean for Joe Public? If your local fire station is losing its fire engine then obviously, should you need one, then it has to travel from further afield. Fire engines have been placed (many years ago, well most of them...) according to risk. It would be remiss of me to state that these risks don't change, they do. But whilst they change, we also have different risks added to the equation. We have more apartments and houses being built. We have more houses of multi occupancy, many of which are not disclosed until there is an issue. We have faster cars. Firefighters are facing more and more anti-social behaviour, being shot at with air rifles, bricks through windows and booby traps being set in derelict properties. But more importantly we have a threat of terrorism. To me, it seems a crazy idea to reduce the number of firefighters. We need more, not less.

The two sides now face a 'stale-mate'. The FBU are being accused of not willing to sit down and negotiate. The Brigade stating that they have asked for a meeting and the FBU have refused. Personally I would not wish to attend a meeting where it has already been stated, this is our position and we are not willing to change it. Productive meetings are where both sides compromise on issues, not one-sided.

It is never an easy decision to take this sort of action. A lot of soul searching has to be carried out. Yet, the long term consequences of what the changes mean are far worse.

The press can be very persuasive towards one side. Make sure both sides are understood before judging.

Anyway... On a lighter note... A nice family of ducks were rescued by a brave bunch of firefighters from a storm drain. Only to find themselves back there the very next day. Apparently, they are creatures of habit and will continue to swim into the drain (from a local river) until they are too big to fit through the pipe. And here I was thinking people are stupid!!

Thursday, August 24

Back to it.......

Since my last post I have been away from work on leave and have thoroughly enjoyed not being there. After the July we had I was so glad to hang my headset up for two weeks!!

My first day shift back was not what I was expecting. Newspapers had hyped up August as being even hotter than July, now whilst this had not been the case when I was trying to get a free sun tan in the garden, I was expecting it 'turn' as a kind of welcome back to work.

But no, we go from hundreds of calls reporting grass fires to hundreds of calls reporting flash flooding!!

One lady was quite annoyed with me when I explained that there really wasn't anything we could do for her. The rain water had built up in the street and was running in a stream into her garden. Obviously she was very worried that it would be entering her house imminently. The reason that the water was running into her garden was simply because the drains had filled up with all the other water that had fallen was already there. At this stage the water was not entering the house and therefore not affecting the electrics, this means there is very little the Fire Brigade could do. The equipment we do have for flooding incidents usually have to be submerged in about 2ft of water, and then the water is pumped from one area to another. If the flooding is caused by sheer amount of water everywhere then there is no-where for the water to be pumped to.

After I explained this to the lady she became quite aggressive. Basically saying that I didn't care that her carpet would be ruined, along with the sofa etc. I can only imagine how frustrating this type of incident can be for someone. I was trying to help her, give her some advice, yet all she wanted to do was shout at me. So after about 5mins I smiled to myself and thought, you're right - I don't care about your carpet or your sofa!!

One extreme to another. Glad to be back at work though. I was spending far too much time watching home improvement programs and was getting ideas..... maybe I should ring my lady friend back and tell her the times..... hee hee!

Saturday, July 22

Sunshine, glorious sunshine.....

Normal jobs, people are being told, take it easy, wear shorts, relax the ties.... Firefighters - have some sun screen - factor 25, bottle of water and get on with it! It is not a job I would like to be doing in this heat. I admire them on that level, I really do. However...... please do not bleat to us how busy you are and how we must feel sorry for you, even if it is in jest! ;o)

In the Control Room we don't have 'reliefs'. We work until we change shift. If that happens to be from 1100hrs until 1800hrs then that is what we do. We have a glass of water on the desk and we graft. 999 call after 999 call. Queuing minor incidents, attending property fires. Nipping out for a quick bite of a sandwich and going back in order for others to get out. Don't get me wrong, we are paid to do exactly that. And I love it when we are busy! But, the last few shifts we have grafted and we have done it below minimum staffing.

The body seizes up, starting with your shoulders. You start talking 'efficiently', like every single word that comes out of your mouth is of upmost importance. This is so everyone understands exactly what you mean, so you don't have to repeat anything. Repeating things takes time. Time is short. 'Would. you. like. a. glass. of. water. ?' - 'Yes. please.' A little bit like old Nikki from Big Brother, but not so stupid. Well, matter of opinion on some of us I suppose! You also find humour. Things that are just so not funny become hilarious. 'Proceed to grass in the open' Brigade wide over the radio. Try and correct it. Get it even more wrong. Doh!

But most importantly, we work as a team. Each one knowing and recognising each others highs and lows. I have had the pleasure of working with a fantastic watch over the last tour and that makes me proud. I love my job, my watch and my responsibility. We have worked every bit as hard as the firefighters so I love every single one of them that appreciates it!!

Tuesday, July 18

Oh. My. God.

Today, oh boy. What a day. It was ok for me really. Sat in a lovely air conditioned Control Room. Apart from the fact....... that every single person that rang 999 - and let me tell you there was over 600 in the day shift - wanted to tell us their life story. When you have a queue of over 10 fire calls waiting to be answered and people don't listen to the questions you are asking, it becomes very frustrating. I am sure I have spoken to people today and they have put the phone down thinking I was extremely rude. And the really disappointing thing is, that I probably was. I don't mean to be, but I need to get the information as quickly as possible. I don't really have time to listen to how many times the local kids have set the fire, how the parents are to blame, how sick and tired the people are around there that they have to keep calling us out. I also need to confirm lots of things with the callers and they just didn't seem to be listening.

Its been a day of grass fires. Its been a day of telling people - I'm sorry, we have no-one to send at the moment, but as soon as we do they will be sent to you. Now I know that this is a normal day for both the Police and the Ambulance, but for us its a little more unusual. Fires spread quickly and its always risky to 'queue' grass fires. Its not a comfortable feeling.

This, I feel, is going to be the norm for the rest of the summer now. Joy.

Thursday, June 22

She hates me!!

Apologies for the delay once again. A few personal issues have kept me from blogging recently but hopefully things are now sorted and I can continue.

Every so often I will take a call and I get frustrated by it. This one call had me so frustrated it has taken a while for me to put it on here. It was a call in the early hours. A lady was driving home, to somewhere outside of our area, when she noticed a large flame coming from a field. So she rang 999 and told me the name of the road. This road happens to be one of the longest roads in our area, running from one side to the other. This is no problem, and the fact that she was unsure of the exact area was no problem. However, instead of attempting to provide me with more information so I could try and work out the area, she told me to look it up in the A-Z, she informed me that she had already given me all the information she could, which consisted of the road name and the fact that it was by a Sainsbury's Petrol Station.

Luckily I was aware of the area that she was referring to, but I was confused as to Petrol Station. Everything else fitted into place, but the petrol station threw me out a bit, so I asked her if the petrol station was part of a retail park, and if she could be mistaken as to the name of it. Well, she took exception to this and ending up screaming down the phone to me, something about only trying to help but if I couldn't be bothered to send a fire engine then it was my responsibility if someone died as a result of it! And then the phone went dead. As I didn't have a location, I had to call her back. I must admit, I was really beginning smile at this point as I knew she was going to hate this even more! Immediately she demanded to speak to my supervisor as she 'didn't like my attitude'. This is not something I was going to pass onto a supervisor, this was personal! Eventually I managed to get a better location out of her and mobilised a fire engine. She hated me. I didn't think that much of her either. But my local knowledge of the area helped as I was able to ask her questions based on the area, like 'have you passed the Ken Tucker Chicken place yet?'.

The fire engine went out, couldn't find anything and asked for us to recontact the caller for further information!! I felt I had pushed her as much as I could for information and wasn't in a rush to speak to her again. I explained to the crew and they were happy to put it back as a false alarm good intent.

It's funny because 'local knowledge' isn't seen to be important anymore (by the Government!) it is thought that computers will be able to mobilise fire engines without too much intervention from 'us'. A computer is only as good as the information entered into it. This lady did not know the area, post code or the name of a road that was nearby. I just don't understand how a computer could work out where she was better than I could.

I feel I am digressing. So I shall compose a whole new post on the issue of regionalisation. Available soon...........

Thursday, May 4

Oh Sunny Days

Two days of glorious weather and the fireflys are out in force. What is it about kids and setting grass on fire?

Fire engines attend these small incidents only to be abused by those that are responsible. Police are called, but they have their own idiots to deal with. Its a good job I am stuck in a Control Room because how tempting would it be to turn round whilst still holding a fully charged length of hose?!! Knock them clean off their little tootsies.

Reminds me of a time when that actually happened. Youths throwing stones etc at a fire crew, firefighter turned round after something hit his helmet and sprayed those responsible. Youth gets home, mum wants to know why he is wet and then rings 999 to shout at us!! Now if that had been me, the first thing my mum would have done is give me a clip round the ear and then march me down the station to apologise - regardless of what I was telling her!! The outcome was the firefighter was disciplined, the Officer in Charge was disciplined and the youth, well..... now a hero amongst their mates. What a joke.

Oh and just in case you come across a grass fire whilst out walking, please ensure you either give exact directions to it from the road or wait around to show the crew where it is. This is because 9 times out of 10 by the time the crew get there, it has died down considerably or can't be seen from the road and it then involves us ringing people back to clarify the location. And when the weather is as nice as this, and the youths are as lovely as they are, we tend to get a tad busy! Saying that, still report small fires, it all goes towards statistics which go towards getting more money out of the Government. (So I'm led to believe, but I won't stand up in a court of law to defend it!!)

Enjoy the sun x

Friday, April 21

Looking forward to Leave!

Well I am off on my holidays this week. And not a minute too soon I can tell you! I'm off to sun myself somewhere lovely and exotic. I shall be thinking of everything but work whilst lying on a beach sipping cocktails.

I will leave you with one lovely snippet from a recent call:

FC - Ok stay away from the fire, we have a fire engine on the way
Caller - Will do, but I can't get too close as its really hot

Saturday, April 15

Big Ones!

Every so often we get big fires. Big fires mean lots of work. They also make the shift fly by.

Today, I wanted one. Nothing serious, just big and easy. No chemicals or people involved. An old derelict single storey factory (no danger to crews) to burn down and create space for a new car park!

I know that sounds really strange. But today I was sat there, waiting. Like a coiled spring. Finger hovering over the phone system. Every minute feeling like an hour. Don't get me wrong, not every shift is like this. But when we have them I could cry!

Then I suddenly remembered the last time I had started wishing for something to happen......

It was a Wednesday afternoon. We received two calls to a large shopping complex stating that there was smoke issuing from the rear of the premise. Two fire engines sent and everything carried on as normal. We had a radio message from one of the crews 'Make Pumps 6'. As it reads, they wanted another 4 fire engines to make the total in attendance 6. (not quite sure why I felt the need to explain it!)

The work kicks in a 5 pumps. We have certain people to inform ranging from our Senior Officers to the Gas Board etc. It begins to get a bit busier and they then 'make pumps 10'. More people to inform. All the time we get keep getting updates from the incident, meaning updating everyone we have already informed. It keeps us busy and the next time I look at the clock, almost an hour has passed.

Unfortunately, everywhere else in the area we cover decides it wants some of this action and we have car fires, house fires, rtc's all over the place. We are getting to the stage where we are not sending what is required to other jobs as everyone is moving around to provide a basic level of cover.

Make pumps 15.

Then, all of a sudden we start getting repeat calls. This is over an hour after the original call. Not so unusual really. Fire + water = smoke. Big fire + lots of water = lots of smoke. People were calling from miles away. And even when we told them what we were dealing with and where, some of them still had to be convinced! Some just wanted to know what was happening. Some were on the top floor of a tower block nearly 10 miles away with a pair of binoculars, reporting that in a North Westerly direction from where they are there. Just for reference, in my opinion, if you can't give me the name of the road, or at the very least an area, please don't bother me. If its that big, someone else will tell me, who actually knows where they are. I don't know my North, West and Easts from my elbow and really haven't got the time to work it out in an A-Z - which incidentally we have to do. Part of the 'just in case its not the same fire' routine which always gets my eyes rolling!

The next time I looked at the clock was just before the change of shift. I sat back and realised that we'd been flat out for nearly 6 hours. I handed over to my relief and took me and my headset out of there! All the way home I was buzzing. It took a while to 'come down' from being so wound up. We had all been on auto pilot for the whole afternoon and its a strange feeling walking away from it all.

But the bottom line is..... I loved every minute of it. Being part of team. The sense of achievement. Putting pieces together to make the big picture. We worked well together to get the job done.

Today, I still love my job, although certain people make it really hard! Both internally and externally. But then I guess that's life. I still felt part of a team. I was ready and willing to do anything required of me. It just wasn't required today. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, April 13

Explanation of my Absence!

Thank you for all your concerns on my absence! Truly touched.

Unfortunately nothing to exciting to report - I wish it was a dramatic as being abducted by aliens, but alas its not. Not even as exciting as the computer being broken!!

I had been seconded to another department for a three week period. It meant working Monday to Friday 9-5 (ish) and I found that when I returned home the last thing I felt like doing was looking at another computer screen!! Its been a real eye-opener actually, not the work (quite boring really) but the fact of doing the 'rush hour traffic' everyday! Getting up every morning. Feeling totally drained every evening. Thank goodness I'm back doing my unsociable shift pattern. Can't believe how much I missed it. Working a night shift is always a killer but give me that any day of the week compared to getting up 5 times in a row!!

Anyway, I'm back into my routine of waking and flicking on the tely, watching a bit of The Wright Stuff, pottering about and being generally lazy until my night shift. Downside - gotta work all over the Easter Weekend. :o(

One quick related call - Bird Flu - why of why would you decide to call the Fire Service if you found a dead bird? We have all been given the phone number for DEFRA on our desk in case anyone rings. Why? Because no doubt they will at some point.

Monday, March 27

Fluffy Wuffy Ickle Kitten

Took a call today to the cutest little rescue. A lovely elderly lady rang, who was very apologetic about ringing, but she was in a right state. Had no-one else to turn to and wondered if we would be able to help. Now I can deal with these sorts of people. People who are polite.

She was telling me all about 'Scamp' who she had rescued from the cold weather a few days ago and what a tinker he was, and informed me that the little devil had managed to get himself wedged behind the gas fire. All I can hear in the background is the tiniest little meow, followed by another equally tiny one! Enough to melt my ice heart I can tell you!

Looking to my supervisor, with big brown eyes fluttering wildly, I'm after authorisation. She rolls her eyes and Im pleased to tell my new best friend that we will send someone round to help her. She started crying she was that pleased!

I know I know, but it was a cute ickle kitten!!

Tuesday, March 21

High Street? Do you know how many High Streets there are?

Why is it so difficult for callers to understand the term - where?

Ok, you've seen something
Lets say a bin on fire
You've managed to figure out that a fire engine will be needed
You reach into your pocket
Pull out your mobile phone
Take the keypad lock off (its harder for some of us I know!)
and dial 999
The operator asks you - which service and you manage to correctly answer 'Fire'
I answer the call......
at that point you feel its necessary to keep all the information to yourself

Me: Fire Service can I help you?
Caller: There's a fire
me: Ok where is it?
Caller: ..............................Opposite the pub
Me: ok, which pub would that be and what road is the pub on?
Caller: its the pub that my mate/dad/uncle/grandad drinks in on a Sunday
Me: oh that pub, how absent minded of me not to know! which road is it on?
Caller: High Street
Me: High Street, which area?
Caller: Lilyshire (obviously a made up large county!)
Me: Ok but what district of Lilyshire would that be in?
Caller: district?
Me: what area is High Street in? There's only 350 High Streets in Lilyshire, I'd be very grateful if you could narrow it down a little bit for me Sir
Caller: oh right, Old Town (insert another equally large town!)
Me: Arrrgggghhhh

Do you know something? I think I can actually feel my blood pressure rising. So in the interest of Health and Safety I shall stop it right there! But Im guessing you get the picture.

Please, please, please - if you have the need to dial 999 - please know where you are, it makes things soooo much easier on all of us!

Tuesday, March 7

Mobile phone callers - where are you?

I took a call recently on a night shift which was particularly harrowing. It was a family trapped by fire and I couldn't get the address. They were calling from a mobile phone so I couldn't get a location on it from the operator. After a couple of minutes other calls started coming in and we were able to mobilise.

It can be very frustrating when taking these sort of calls because all you want to do is mobilise someone to it, but you can't because you don't have an address. We are about to get a new system which will allow us to input a mobile phone number into a program, get the grid references which we can then enter into another program and get a rough location. It all seems a bit long winded at the moment but hopefully it will help us in these sorts of situations. Incidents during the early hours may only get the one call so it is vital that we have something, even though it will only be a rough location.

On a lighter note, it will also be a bit scary for malicious callers when we can get the details of their location (even a rough one!) and tell them we know where they are calling from!! Insert evil laugh.....

Sunday, March 5

False Alarm Malicious

From time to time (ok, at least ten times a shift!), we get callers that believe it to be the funniest thing in the world to ring 999 and report an incident. This is the same for all emergency services and its one of the most irritating thing in the world. Last night we had a regular caller contact us, a regular, someone who rings us enough times for us to identify their voice, can you believe it?! Anyway, they always ring from telephone kiosks, they always report car accidents involving either buses or lorries (means a bigger turnout, specialist units etc) and they always state that they are off duty police officers, even giving their 'collar number' for reference. We have to send 2 fire engines, the specialist rescue unit with a supporting crew (another fire engine), inform Police and Ambulance and tell a Senior Officer. What a waste of resources in any case, but when there was a large incident involving 6 fire engines just round the corner, it was dangerous.

Not all malicious callers are children. Someone of 'apparent' maturity finds it amusing to ring us with a great big fat lie. We know its going to be malicious when we are talking to him, we know the sound of his voice, however he knows that if he get flustered when we challenge him it proves he's lying so he doesn't! He remains calm, composed and continues to state that he is an off duty police officer and we can check with his station - even gives the telephone number! We keep him talking on the line, even get someone else to ring the police and ask for their urgent attendance to the location of the TK. Everytime he gets away with it. I throw my hands up in the air in frustration.

Thursday, November 10

Fire Persons Reported

Today I took a call to Fire-Persons Reported. Its one type of call that makes you sit up straight and focus. This was somebody on the 6th floor of a tower block. Her elderly mother was disabled and her daughter was panicking in the background. The lifts had been out of order for days and this was her nightmare!

FC: Fire Service
Caller: oh my god, there's smoke everywhere
FC: Whats your address?
Caller: Sutcliffe Tower, Im on the 6th floor, number 56
FC: What road is that on?
Caller: Bishop Street, *cough*, the lifts are out, we're not going to be able to get out are we?
FC: We've got fire engines on the way to you now, is there smoke coming into your flat?
Caller: yes, its everywhere *starts to cry* we're on the 6th floor, the lifts don't work, Ive told the council everyday something like this would happen
FC: Ok I need you to get everyone into the same room.............

The call carried on for another 15mins whilst I passed instructions to her in order to keep as safe as possible until the fire crews got there. It really made me think though. 6 floors up. No lift. Nightmare is the understatement. How dare the council not treat this with the urgency it deserves!

Monday, November 7

Industrial Action - Coming to an Authority near you soon!

As news travels across the country about impending industrial action (again) within the fire service I thought I would add my support.

The latest brigade to be balloted for IA is West Midlands Fire Service. I believe they are due to walkout on Monday 14th November at 1800hrs until 2100hrs.

Its never an easy decision to make and I feel for all those involved. The last strike, which affected all brigades, was tough but I supported it 100%. Mistakes were made and very hard lessons learned. As a result of this action all brigades had to come up with an action plan. Known as the IRMP this was basically a way of saving money.

London, Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester are all brigades that are having tough times and they deserve support aswell.

Good luck to my comrades in West Midlands for Monday. I believe negotiation is due to take place this week and my fingers will be firmly crossed for a successful outcome without the need to strike. However, if management continue to 'bully and harrass' the decent hardworking members of the UK Fire Service then BRING IT ON!

Wednesday, November 2

Callers to the Fire Service

I found myself today explaining to a visitor about they types of callers we get. Now this can vary depending on their situation. My visitor wanted to know if the more serious incidents were harder to deal with, such as someone trapped by fire. In the majority of cases I tend to find these callers more receptive as it happens. They are obviously very distressed but will take all instructions and advice and complete them without question - for example, close the door to the fire and remain low to the floor, move towards a window and if safe to do so open it for fresh air. There are exceptions but the 'persons reported' calls I have dealt with in the past have gone incredibly well considering the situation that the caller is in.

Callers to car fires, however, are very dramatic!! The caller often likes to get the phrase 'ITS GONNA BLOW' in somewhere along the line. Now I can't blame them for this as most TV programs show cars exploding as it is far more entertaining!

I took a call today where the lady was very apologetic for 'bothering' us but she had been advised to contact us by the RAC. Her car had been leaking petrol and there was a very strong smell around it. This is something of a hazard so 1 fire engine sent merrily on its way! She was most grateful but also very concerned that said fire engine may be required elsewhere.

Now there are other callers (whom I love dearly!) who actually think that the fire service is there to serve their every whim. They really do think its their god given right to demand attendance of 1 very large red truck with 5 highly trained and skilled firefighters to access their homes (without breaking the door down) as they have lost their keys!! Lockouts are something of a bug bear to me. I'm not scorning those that actually lose keys - I have been known to ring my friend with a spare key at 3am in order I can reach my bed - but those that think its the easy option to ring the fire service to assist. There are many many companies that specialise in such situations, they are known as LOCKSMITHS and provide a 24/7 service - for a charge. By screaming at us that we are employed by them as they pay our wages through taxes, and as such should send a fire engine, really won't make us take it all back and say 'I am so terribly sorry, you're right, what was I thinking? One shiny red fire engine coming up!'

I shall save my favourite rant regarding malicious callers for another day as it shall be a long one! I mean how stupid do you have to be to find it funny??

Tuesday, November 1

My Very First Post!

Welcome to my very first posting! I must admit that I have found the whole process very easy so far and I am looking forward to the whole 'blogging' malarky!

So, a bit about me..... I work for the Fire Service as a Fire Control Operator in the Emergency Control Room. When I usually give my occupation to people the first comment I receive is 'So, you answer the phones then?'. Well, to sum it all up in a nutshell.... Yes! However, it is so much more than that.

I have decided to create this blog after being inspired by I'm not even sure how I came across his blog, but since reading it for the first time I have been hooked!!

My main aim for this blog is to prevent my poor friend from having her ear chewed off everytime I come home from work with 'yet another rant'. Why is it that we only ever discuss the annoying topics of the day, rather than giving praise where praise is due??