The Government is working in partnership with the National Fire Chiefs Council to implement infrastructure and strategic solutions for control rooms to improve the sharing of risk critical information between fire control rooms, and fire and police/ambulance control rooms. This will allow the transfer of information between control rooms to be electronic instead of a control room operator having to manually contact the other service by telephone. The system is called “Multi Agency Information Transfer” (MAIT) and will allow information to be transferred between control rooms much quicker.
The Government has worked with the NFCC to establish a separate Broadcast Talkgroup to improve information sharing between control rooms. This will be achieved by introducing two new Airwave Talkgroups (radio channels), a “Fire Broadcast Talkgroup” and a “JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles) Multi Agency Talkgroup” to improve the sharing of information between fire, police and ambulance.
The Broadcast Talkgroup went live in England and Scotland on 1 October 2020 and in Wales in December 2020. This means that if a fire and rescue service becomes overwhelmed with emergency calls, the affected service can now make an announcement on their control room Airwave Radio and it will be received in every control room across the county simultaneously. Weekly testing has taken place involving all Fire Control Rooms, so far the testing has shown that Talkgroup is working effectively. The final test will be completed in October 2021 after which, the Talkgroup will used by the Fire and Rescue Services under “Business as Usual”. This Talkgroup has also successfully been used several times during live incidents.
The JESIP Talkgroup is now live in all Fire Control Rooms and the NFCC has released guidance to support its use.
In conjunction with the NFCC Central Programme Office, the Government has provided funding for two Fire Control Managers to be seconded to assist with development of the National Operational Guidance for Fire Control staff. This will include updating the current Fire Survival Guidance and training.
Fire Survival Guidance in buildings has now been published. Fire and rescue services are now able to integrate this guidance into their own policies and procedures.
The two secondees have produced guidance for Fire Control Command. This document is currently going through the final governance process for approval prior to being published.
The two secondees have also developed guidance for Emergency Call Management (People at Risk) which is due to go for peer review in October 2021.
Work is in progress to produce guidance for fire control staff for handling multiple emergency calls and multiple emergency incidents.
To fully address this recommendation, fire and rescue services must embed the policies and training to support fire control room personnel in the use of the Airwave Talk Groups.
The Home Office and NFCC are working with BT to establish a more robust way of dealing with Fire Control Rooms becoming overwhelmed with emergency calls resulting from large or protracted incidents. Once implemented, BT will have a predetermined plan of how to distribute overflow calls efficiently between other Fire and Rescue Services.
In June 2021, the NFCC surveyed all fire and rescue services in England about their progress against recommendations. For this recommendation:
- 93% of services (41 services) have completed this recommendation and embedded all changes.
- The remaining 7% of services (3 services) will have completed this recommendation and embedded all changes by April 2022.
With the establishment of the Broadcast Talkgroup, the National Fire Chiefs Council have provided guidance on the Talkgroup.
London Fire Brigade have reported that recommendation 33.16 has been completed as all Control officers have received training on the Talkgroup’s protocol. It is further reported that the Brigade’s Vision mobilising system is Multi Agency Incident Transfer (MAIT) enabled in preparation for the implementation of MAIT in 2021.