Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, staff working in the Control Room work day and night shifts in four teams (watches). They also work during weekends and Public Holidays. Annual leave is allocated to ensure there’s the right level of cover to keep the Room operating at maximum efficiency.
To be effective, Control Operators need to be confident communicators and remain calm under pressure. These skills are vital as they need to be able to gather information from callers who may be in a life threatening situation, panicking and under severe stress. The Operators work with callers to find out the severity of the incident and where it’s taking place. They then pass this information to firefighters. They stay on the phone, assessing any risks faced by the caller, sometimes giving life-saving fire survival advice.
Information is entered into specialist software, used to decide the number and type of firefighters and equipment that’s needed, and to alert crews at stations about the incident. Control Operators liaise with crews, and potentially other emergency services and authorities (such as the Environment Agency, if chemicals that could pose a threat to people, property or the environment are involved) throughout each incident.
They’re also encouraged to identify possible malicious, false alarm calls. These are not just a nuisance, they can be life-threatening because crews attending these calls will be unavailable should a genuine incident be taking place elsewhere.
Employees working in Control take instructions from supervisors and senior officers, and work as part of a team.
There are many diverse communities living and working in West Yorkshire. Being able to communicate in a community language is therefore a particularly valuable skill for someone in this role.