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??


M2KB said...

You know, I think you may just sway me into liking the fire brigade! I've always been put off by fire control because they're always miserable when they answer the phone. You however are changing my perception.

It seems we are not that dis-similar in our hate for certain types of callers as well. You're not the only ones who get lock-out calls. They don't seem to grasp that even if I DID send a police officer, all they would do is asp the nearest window to the front door. I then further explain to the caller they are quite capable of finding an errant brick and doing them job themselves. No doubt, many then go on to call you guys!

Funny world we live in. Keep it up, I'm loving it already.


Reformed Fire Skeptic!

Beaker said...

I have to agree with m2kb - we are not fans of the brigade. The other day we got a call saying we had a persons reported on a certain rd but no house number. This road turned out to be about 2 miles long!! The dispatchers advice was to drive down the road and look for the smoke!

and for every one of your lost keys calls we have the flu calls! Don't you just hate the public!

Miranda Shuttleworth said...

I am first to admit that the inter-service relationship we have with both Police and Ambulance can be - at times - strained! We all do a completely different role and have different pressures and are looking for different pieces of information from callers.

Although we do try and get the basics of 'a house number' its not something we are in dire need of before mobilising. The fire crews are 'lucky' (if that is the best word to describe it!) enough to be able to see a visual sign from the roadside as to which house is on fire!

m2kb - interesting that you think of us as miserable! However, we all have certain individuals on a watch where they shouldn't be allowed to come to work, let alone answer the phone!!

Thank you for your kind words, glad your liking it!!

M2KB said...

As I say, it's by no means 'everyone' who is miserable, it just seems I always get the same people day in, day out! I'm sure they are merely the ones who as you say, should not be allowed in to work.

They just tarnish everyone elses impression of the service. :)

Beaker said...

Again I have to agree with m2kb - I should really stop doing that!! I always end up speaking to the person that seems to love their job as much as sucking on a wet fish - saying that the other day I had a great dispatcher (do you call them that????). We were having a 4 way conversation whilst trying to find a location - ambulance and brigade both on scene (apparently) but neither was in the right place so we had brigade crew talking to control, one controller talking to caller, one controller talking to me, me talking to radio op, radio op talking to crew. Very confusing but we got there in the end!!

Miranda Shuttleworth said...

We're called Control Operators, however soon to be replaced by Firefighters (Control) when Role Maps come in! But don't get me started on that one!

Am I right in thinking that both Police and Amb have call takers, and then seperate dispatchers? We don't, the person that takes the call, mobilises and adds any messages to the log that come through (if sat on radio position). We find it works well, but with all the changes afoot we may have seperate call takers in the new super dooper (never gonna work in a million years) Regional Control Centre.

And just on a seperate note, I was talking to Police Control the other night and she was sooooo rude! I was trying to be really helpful and in the end she put the phone down on me! Gutted.

Beaker said...

We start out as just call takers and then progress to dispatchers (general dogsbodys), then get trained on radio and finally allocating. Generally you start radio training once you've been here a year so mine is due at the end of the summer.

Any one of us can add stuff to the log though generally it's just the dispatchers, radio ops and allocators. The dispatchers and call takers swop around so you end up doing both jobs across a set of shifts. It's nice to have a break from the public!

M2KB said...

Police are a little different. We have calltakers, and then controllers (radio ops). Because our type of job requires a lot of talking, it's not practical or safe to have the radio operator answering calls (although I have done it in the past when needs have required.)

Part of the reason behind the seperateness I think is because we do a lot more 'control' than just 'dispatch' policemen to jobs. Always with the PNC checks, the continual barage of grade 1's, officer updates and so on and so on! The result is an endless stream of radio traffic.

There used to be direct entry for controllers (when I came in), but now there is a structured progression system in place. You do a year as a non-emergency call handler (abandoned vehicles, lost garden gnomes and stuff), then a year as an emergency call handler, and then up to controller if you wish. As a controller we still have days on the 9's occasionally, but the majority of our time is spent on all the different radio positions. The only exception to that rule is our late shifts, where we spend 6 hours on the radio and 4 at the end taking 9's because we cross over with nights.

And Miranda, I apologise on behalf of that rude person!!

DogsBody said...

"By screaming at us that we are employed by them as they pay our wages through taxes"
That phrase really winds me up - I'm sure most people assume we're exempt from paying taxes - I wish that was the case!

Good Blog - keep it up!

Emma said...

OMG I would never think of calling 999 if i locked myself out...surely it's my own stupid fault?! And as for the whole 'my taxes, your wages' argument....i'd prefer to have them spent when i actually need 999 not when i think i deserve them :-P