Control ManagerI joined the South Glamorgan Fire Service in October 1980; it was a temporary position to cover an absence for maternity leave for a three month period, that baby will be 35 years old this Christmas Day!!! My first promotion to Leading Control Operator was in November 1986, and this was followed in July 1987 to Senior Control Operator and the management of my own watch. During this decade John Lennon was murdered, Ronald Reagan became President, the UK went to war with Argentina and the Berlin wall fell, work wise the Cardiff riots began in the Ely part of the City and quickly spread to the Docks area (now Cardiff Bay) stretching Fire Brigade resources across the city and threatening the safety of the crews responding. In 1986 Fire Control moved from paper based incident reporting and locating incident addresses on a card drum and microfiche to its first computerised mobilising system.
In the 1990s the Dunblane Massacre occurred, Dolly the sheep was cloned, Charles and Diana divorced and the trail of OJ Simpson commenced. In Cardiff the centre of a storm caused structural devastating damage to hundreds of homes, and brought trees down onto cars and properties, July 1997 was the busiest recorded afternoon for South Glamorgan Fire Control for over 20 years. In 1998 South Glamorgan Fire Control merged with Gwent and Mid Glamorgan Fire Controls in the newly amalgamated South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and I was promoted to Fire Control Officer with a watch of 12 responsible for mobilising resources across South Wales.
In the 2000s New York suffered the 9/11 air strike, the US invaded Iraq, a boxing day Tsunami devastated 11 Countries and the Darfur conflict began. In 2005 I was promoted to Group Manager Head of Service Control and days later London became a victim to Terrorism in the 7/7 attack. In 2007 severe flooding was experienced in Wales and across the Country with Fire Service Resources being deployed to assist.
Fire control continues to evolve, improve and train to meet the demands of the ever changing face of devastation and disaster from natural to man made disasters, the computerised systems are capable of vehicle location, pinpoint accuracy on address locations and mobile phone locations. Fire Control staff continues to successfully challenge malicious calls ensuring resources are available to support those in need whenever required.
Assistant Control ManagerI joined the Fire Service because I didn’t want an ‘ordinary’ job; instead I wanted one that was different and one that would involve helping people. Well I definitely got my wish, because working in Control is an inimitable experience which ensures that people receive the help they need every day.
When I joined Gwent Fire Brigade in 1985, a computerised mobilising system had only just been introduced into the Control room and as I had just done a computer course and was the youngest member of staff (by quite a few years) I was called the ‘whizz kid’. This wasn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of my abilities, more the result of the little experience people had of computers in the 1980s. Of course, it’s a very different story now as all Control staff have worked with computers for the majority of their careers, and in some cases, have never known life without them. However, the computer systems that we use now are far more sophisticated than thirty years ago and can process much more information much more quickly.
Despite the fact that there are set tasks that must be completed on a daily basis, no two days are the same as even the most ‘routine’ of emergency calls is unlike any other. Whether it’s a different address, a different problem, a calm caller, an upset caller or even an angry caller, each and every incident is unique. Since I started in the Fire Service, the way in which Control staff provides support and advice to callers has improved tremendously and nowadays we are lifesavers and not just the people on the end of the phone who turn out fire engines. We are trained to keep callers calm; advising and informing people on how to stay safe in lots of different situations. Something that is very satisfying.
During my career I’ve been lucky enough to have been promoted a number of times and I am now the line manager for the four watches in Control. The Fire Service has supported me in gaining a number of academic qualifications which help me understand and perform my managerial role more effectively. I’m lucky enough to be able to look back on the years I have completed so far with a sense of satisfaction, reflecting upon what I’ve achieved to date. However, perhaps more importantly, I still look forward to what is around the corner. There are always exciting challenges on the horizon which mean that every day will continue to be different as I continue to do work that allows me to help others, and keeping control ready for the next batch of ‘whizz kids’ to work in Control.
Fire-fighter (Control)I have been a Fire-fighter (Control) for over seventeen years. When I started I became part of South Glamorgan Fire Service just before the amalgamation of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 1996.
Being a Fire-fighter (Control) is an interesting and rewarding career. It involves working in an exciting and disciplined environment and you never know what you are going to face during your shift, every one is different!
My main duties include taking and processing of emergency calls, radio operations and administrative duties. Team work is important as you spend a lot of time with each other and need to support and work closely together to get an incident resolved.
Fire-fighter (Control)I joined Gwent Fire Brigade on a six week temporary typist contract when I was twenty years of age in 1986. Following those six weeks, I was permanently employed as an admin clerk/typist in Gwent Headquarters.
In December 1987, I was lucky enough to be successful in my application for the post of Control Operator. I used to work on a watch of five and the Brigade area included twenty fire stations.
Twenty five years later (how time flies when you’re having fun!), here I am in South Wales Fire & Rescue emergency Control Room, which covers the whole of South Wales and includes fifty fire stations. The watch strength has doubled to ten personnel and I’m now called ‘Fire-fighter Control’.
I have used three mobilising systems over the years; the latest called ‘Vision’ is by far the most impressive. Also, I have recently witnessed Huw Jakeway becoming ‘my’ fifth Chief Fire Officer!