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Additional Information from Control


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Basically over the past few tours we have been turned out to building fires with additional information on the turn out sheet stating one example “thick black smoke coming from window” the other ones were very similar. We get this quite a lot where it has turned out to be nothing or someone burning off in the garden, or other incident types for example an RTC where you turn up and it’s nothing like what you thought it would be going off the false additional information received on route. Especially for the OIC and building situational awareness. 

I know control ops are only trying their best but information from the public is at times is exaggerated cause it’s the first time they seen a fire or incident.

So should this be put on the turn out sheet or MDT? Or should you make your own size up when you get there. 

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As you say, control is giving you information based on what the caller is seeing. Callers will exaggerate the detail as they think this increases or speeds up the response. You have to remember that smoke coming from a window may seem nothing to us, but be the most worrying thing a member of the public has ever seen, so they report as such. 

In terms of information on turnout, it should of course be taken into account, as it would be negligent of control not to inform you of any additional information which may support the decision making process on route. However, the OiC will only be able to use this as such and make a full assessment on arrival in order to get the full situational awareness. 

The question has to be asked, would you prefer the additional information or not, and would control be negligent if they didn't pass on any information would could be proved later would have been beneficial and there liable?

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It’s always disappointing when you think you’ve got something and it’s nothing. In my opinion it’s really up to control to filter out unnecessary info, for example thick black smoke is subjective, smoke issuing is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Then with an RTC something like vehicle overturned or left roadway added on to the message is much more useful for an en-route arrival plan. 

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I like the idea of keeping things simple and using simple phrases like what you said “smoke issuing” not word for word what the caller stated. We had one recently. “ thick black smoke billowing from window”  Turned out to be someone burning off in the garden. 
The vital information being passed is of course important and keeps firefighters safe.  But we seem to get overloaded at times when it just isn’t necessary. 

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From working in control briefly I was given a solid appreciation of the incredibly challenging job they do. They can only go on what they’ve been told and as Carl said if they hold information back that could have influenced a crew’s approach to the job, they would be considered to be in the wrong.

It’s often a thankless task as they are just the voice over the radio or the phone telling us where to go and what to do, but better to have all the information and react to what you see on arrival. How many times does the OIC radio for further information from control if what they see on the tip sheet isn’t considered enough to go on? If it’s something bugging you a bit I would try and arrange a visit to control for your watch so you can see how it all works and why they do what they do. It’s a great way of breaking down that barrier that’s often there between control and the fire crews.

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I have been to control a few times and I’ve got so say it’s been great to see their side of it and fair play to the guys and girls for doing it. 

100 percent agree on passing on critical information about the incident. 

Im more getting at things which maybe subjective due to the caller panicking. For example. The colour of smoke reported, the colour of the car involved in an RTC, the age of the confused caller saying their smoke alarm is going off and they don’t know why. etc

Could we potentially do without? Or is it better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it scenario?

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In West Mids the control operator can offer the use of 999 Eye to the caller. They effectively “facetime” the incident to control and control can mobilise accordingly ( doesnt work that great for when the caller has driven past an RTC ) It has led to augmented attendances at some going jobs. This is also a help to our fire investigation team as it shows the job developing at an early stage

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I think you have to take it all into consideration and decipher what is needed. 

I personally would rather have the information than not. Everyone will overdo information, even our own. You will be surprised at the info I get given when I turn up to a persons or an RTC as the SM. I once got from a WM a "We were just sitting down to our eggs and the bells went" - "Right, just let me stop you there, how many casualties have we got"

Remember, Control are typing in as they are mobilising and have not got the time to filter incoming info to make the decision of whether it will be useful or not. 

How do I know? Having been married to a ConOp for over 20 years, I get it in the ear every night 😂


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Thats why you get tipped out @Carl you are on the naughty boy list, - wifey knows best !

Back to the subject, i'd rather have the info even if exaggerated or whatever, if you are prepared for billowing smoke and it isnt -happy days, the other way around , not so good.

999 eye good in some situations, but our con ops are trained to get as much relevant info as possible in the least amount of time.

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999eye isn't used to aid initial mobilisation. Only after the information is taken and appliances mobilised is 999eye offered to the caller.

From there if the ConOp feels the images warrant an increased or decreased attendance then it will be done but never before the initial mobilisation

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Now then you lot, I have read the occasional crap thread since I signed up here - but this one takes the biscuit - so excuse me if I am a bit blunt:

"Control told me there would be black smoke coming from the windows, but when we got there it was only a bonfire. I am so disappointed they exaggerated" 

Ok I am paraphrasing to make a point, which is can you not see how pathetic that sounds? Honestly? Disappointed ? Boo bloody hoo

Its your job to respond to perceived emergencies and quite often (thankfully) they are not as bad as first reported. I really do not think that being ordered to a RTC persons trapped only to find they are not will lead you down the path to PTSD.

ConOffs do mess up. In a complicated city as London, simply choosing Colville Road W11 from a drop down menu, rather than Colville Road E11 might end up sending a proper cock up. Even High Road and High Street NW10 are two different addresses. We have all made similar cock ups, and as frustrating as they are (as they should never happen), ConOffs are human and can make errors

But adding further info on the call slip surely has to be a good thing for preplanning doesn't it? I would be happy with "black smoke coming from window" as don't tell me (or@Noddy) that the colour of the smoke doesn't matter!! As long as the ordering isn't delayed, I would always have preferred as much detail as possible.

I truly apologise in advance if I have the wrong end of the stick with this post, but for Gods sake, getting upset about having specific detail on the ordering, only to find the job is not as sexy as advertised is just crazy. 

  • Kudos 3
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It’s a bit of a paradox, you don’t want people to have a huge fire, but you want to go and put huge fires out. I think the disappointment is to be expected from people eager to put their skills to good use. 

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@BurtMacklinThat much I understand, but the view voiced above seemed to suggest that Control's exaggerated description of the call was in some way responsible for their disappointment and something needed to be done about it 😳😳😳

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😂😂 bit nasty that @Messyshaw

My point wasn’t based at control exaggerating calls but the members of the public which do so.  Control are doing their job and passing over the information. 

My initial post was, should control pass over word for word what the caller stated as they are doing now.  As it is subjective to the callers experience with fires it may be the first time they have ever seen one.  Or should we get basic information about the call such like, address, what’s on fire, (kitchen, bedroom, garage etc) not a description of the smoke or flames as that doesn’t help us, it creates preconceived ideas and plans which might be implemented when we arrive.   At the end of the day we don’t really know what we get until we get there and we treat every call the same regardless off the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION on the call sheet and we deal with it as we see it. This is what the makes the job so exciting. I was just curious if other services controls passes over such info. 

But what do I know.. just making a topic which I thought this forum was for. Sorry to upset or wasted your valuable time, at the end of the day if you don’t like the topic you don’t have to read it. 

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There's no point being petulant about wasting my valuable time.  Its clear that you havent done anything wrong or am I offended in any way.

Part of the reason for a forum is to express our views, and allowing others to challenge those opinions- but within a set of rules. 

My opinion on this subject is in parts, opposite to some of the views expressed by others. I do not think the type of addition information that has been mentioned would create any difficulties operationally, procedurally or personally.

If you have formed an interim plan en route based on call slip info and the actual situation is different, then alter your plan. People do this every day in a range of jobs and areas of their lives.

I welcomed all the information I could get - especially when on an outduty or en route to a job away from my ground.

Debate is healthy and we all learn from it, and this includes criticism.  So I will post, reply and comment and will not pass by if I don't like like it. But I appreciate your advice 

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This thread is like the mess room at my station......

One of the jb’s strolls in, sits down and has a moan about something that’s frustrating him....other members of the watch cherp in with their opinion, relevant or not, and then the grumpy senior hand smashes him right in the balls 😂😂

I love it ! Keep it up please 🙃

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Im with messy 100% on this.  The second we ask Control to filter out the callers info will be the time something important is missed.  I don’t think callers exaggerate per se, they see it how they see it and trying to compare their opinion to ours of a fire etc... will inevitably lead to differences.  Keep the additional info i say it’s useful stuff 👍👍 

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