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Recall Advice

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A friend of mine, acting on my advice, recalled her local fire crews to a fire on a construction site they had left around three hours ago. When she dialled 999 with her concerns (her child is asthmatic and they live very close) the control operator advised her that her anxieties were probably just due to 'hotspots', but they would send a crew to check anyway.

I am sure the choice of language - i.e. hotspots - was aimed at reassuring the caller. However, she saw it as a bit patronising as she had gone to great lengths to describe the fire which in her view could not be described as a hotspot!!

Was the ConOff's language patronising or good practice?? I cannot decide

BTW: The crew who returned used 1 jet and  2 x hose reels to 'check' the 'hotspots' :)

(and no, I will not name to crew or which F&RS)


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  • 1 month later...

From a Control Operator perspective it can be a difficult balance to strike. You want to reassure the caller but you also don't want to over egg what could be nothing. Acting like its a raging inferno serves only to panic the caller and acting like it's nothing can wind them up. My line of questioning would have followed the "Okay, when you say it's still burning what do you mean?" and get the caller to paint me a picture. I'd never patronise a caller by suggesting "it's probably just hotspots" that's like saying "That call was definitely a hoax" only for the crew to arrive and make pumps 5 and aerial platforms 2 ? 

I was always taught to let the caller paint you a picture and to treat every call as it's own incident. Just because you've had 12 calls to a car fire on the motorway doesn't mean that caller 13 can't give you relevant and useful information. 

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it always is a balance. you've got the bit of rubbish that's ended up as a six pumper with the flipside of the caller described Steve McQueen epic that put out with a size 12......

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We’ve had 999 eye in use for a while now.  When a caller comes in, if they have a smart phone they can volunteer to stream video of the incident to the con op so they can actually see the job and resource it better . 

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The 999 eye system is definitely interesting! I would love to see it in play in our control room but I can't see it happening personally but that's just the usual politics. I find, with some effective questioning it's relatively easy to get a feel for a job but cashybai is right. You always get the occasional one that throws you. However the power of the 999 eye system is great, a picture can make the world of difference when mobilising and can also help when presenting incidents to officers for assessment. I've had pictures of horses etc stuck in mud up to their necks emailed in to help better assess before, and it's helped tremendously with mobilising the correct response. 

Edited by Carl
Quote removed as no need to quote a previous post
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I remember many years ago being turned out to a house fire, controls informed us enroute that the call was made from a town about 60 miles away, malicious call we thought, nope the home owner was from vietnam and couldnt speak english so they phoned a friend who could and they called the fire service.....big lesson learnt.  

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We had a fire in an HMO, and one tenant phoned a friend in Germany to tell them they couldn’t get out instead of us (our ConOps could have gone through their Fire Survival Guidance protocol with them).

The friend then had to get through to LFB control and alert them that they were still inside, but the extra time that all took unfortunately proved costly.

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