Fire Control Frequently Asked Questions
Where is fire control based?
Fire control is located at the Service Control Centre at our Potterne Support Services in Potterne, Wiltshire.
Occasionally you may be required to work out of other locations to support the needs of the service, including our partnership control rooms based in Eastleigh (Hampshire & IOW Fire Control) and Exeter (Devon & Somerset Fire Control).
Do I have to live within a catchment area to apply?
There is no specified catchment area for working in fire control, but it is recommended consideration is given to any distance you may have to drive after a busy shift.
What hours do control staff work?
Fire control is crewed 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year, achieved by four watches on a rotating shift pattern averaging 42 hours per week. This is covered by staff working two consecutive days 0800-1800, followed by two consecutive nights 1800-0800, and four days off.
Applicants must be able to work days, nights, weekends and bank holidays.
Are the shifts flexible?
We offer flexible working patterns, as well as career breaks, where possible. Flexible working is available to allow members of staff to work flexibly within the requirements of their role
Night shifts are long – do I get to sleep at any point?
Night shifts are 14 hours in total. During this time, you will be given a meal break and, where possible, a rest break, however this is dependent on how operationally busy the control room is.
For the duration of all breaks all control staff must be able to be recalled to the control room. This is done via an alerter.
Will I work with the same people all the time?
Once initial recruit training has been completed, you will be assigned to a watch – red, white, blue or green. You will then work with others assigned to that watch. Throughout your career there may be times you are required to move to another watch to suit the needs of the service. There are also opportunities to work with other watches through overtime.
What is the salary?
During your initial training course, you will have an annual salary of £22,641.
Following completion of your initial training, your salary will increase to £23,585.
Once you have successfully completed the relevant stages of development, your salary will increase to £30,179.
Is there a pension scheme I can join?
Control staff are able to enrol into the Local Government Pension Scheme, which includes retirement options. Members of the scheme will benefit from a generous employer contribution.
What is the leave entitlement?
The basic entitlement for those on the shift system is 23 days plus eight bank holiday days. After five years’ service, the basic leave entitlement increases by three days
Do fire control staff wear a uniform?
Full uniform is provided for fire control staff.
Do I need to have any qualifications to work in fire control?
To work in fire control the requirement is 4 GCSE passes – grade A*-C/9-4, including English and Mathematics/equivalent Level 2 qualifications/ or higher-level relevant qualification.
What is the training like?
Initially your training will be overseen by the Control Training Team and will take place out of the control room on day duties over a 3-5 week period. You will use our training Vision system to learn the basics of call handling and mobilising and complete assessments as you progress. At the end of this phase, you will join your watch where you will combine what you have already learnt with on-the-job training with periodic assessments throughout. At the end of 12 weeks, you will take part in a final assessment to deem you ‘watch competent’ and you will commence the development programme, which takes approximately 15 months to complete. Following assessment by the Control Training Team, you will then qualify to be a firefighter (control) and move into the maintenance of skills phase.
Alongside the in-house training you will be enrolled on the Emergency Contact Handler Apprenticeship scheme to enhance your development.
Where will I do my training?
The majority of your training will be completed at our Potterne Support Services site – either in our resilience control room or the Service Control Centre itself. Where possible* you may also be required to attend other sites such as our headquarters in Salisbury, or a fire station, in order to facilitate your learning.
*covid restrictions may apply.
What opportunities are there for promotion?
Once you have completed your training and are no longer a Firefighter (Control) in development, it will be possible for you to apply for promotion.
We have a new, innovative promotion process that staff can access if they want to apply for a role at a higher level. Promotion to roles at Crew Manager (Control) and Watch Manager (Control) are completed through a number of elements, testing your skills and knowledge, and providing you with training to ensure you have the right skills once promoted.
Do fire control operators only take emergency calls?
As well as emergency call handling and the mobilising of resources, fire control also aid the running of incidents to their conclusion by maintaining incident logs and liaising with relevant partner agencies. This is in addition to responding to any requests from the incident ground.
Some other examples of fire control tasks responsibilities are:
- testing and maintaining mobilisation and communication equipment,
- dealing with enquiries from members of the public and signposting to the appropriate department
- monitoring and maintaining fire cover to ensure we can respond to emergencies in a timely manner
- participating in exercises and incident debriefs
- maintaining own development
- updating social media and the website with incidents
- initiating safeguarding procedures
Does fire control also take calls for Police and Ambulance?
No, we liaise with police, ambulance and a variety of other agencies but we only handle calls for the fire service. Occasionally we do get calls meant for other services, but these will always be passed on to the relevant service to deal with.
What is a typical day in fire control?
There is no such thing as a typical day in fire control! Whilst there are daily routines that have to be completed, the nature of the job means that no two days are the same. A firefighter (control) needs to be ready to deal with whatever the day may bring. That could be lots of small incidents at the same time, one big one or anything and everything in between. Administrative tasks and self-development is completed during times when there are fewer incidents on the go. There is always something to do.
What happens if I take a call that upsets me?
Occasionally there will be calls that are upsetting. Calls can come from people who are distressed, frightened and confused. Whilst a firefighter (control) needs to be able to deal with these calls in a calm and reassuring manner there will be times when the nature of the incident can have an effect. To help with this we offer TRiM.
Trauma Risk in Management (TRiM) is a system developed by the Royal Marines and widely adopted by the military, police forces and fire and rescue services and is considered an effective form of stress management. This is stress which follows as a result of a traumatic incident. This can be any event from a minor accident to a major disaster. It can affect survivors, victims, rescuers and helpers as well as onlookers, witnesses, colleagues, friends and family members
I have a hearing impairment; can I still apply?
All successful applicants must pass a medical test which will include a hearing test. Applicants for firefighting who meet the H2 standard should be considered fit for role. Applicants who score lower than H2 may be required to undertake additional functional testing before a decision on fitness can be determined.
I am dyslexic; can I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply, however we do ask whether you would require any reasonable adjustments to participate in this process. If this is the case you must outline what, if any, reasonable adjustments you require. We will need to see evidence from your specialist outlining the requirement for your reasonable adjustment.
I have a criminal conviction; can I still apply?
You will not be able to commence the role until a satisfactory Disclosure Certificate has been received. If the Disclosure Certificate highlights any convictions which are unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the application will be referred to the HR Resourcing and Workforce Planning Manager to review and assess whether the candidate is suitable for the role.
I want to be a firefighter. Will working in fire control make it easier for me to become a firefighter?
Whilst working in fire control gives an insight into the way the fire service works in general; it is not a short-cut to the role of an operational firefighter. To become a firefighter please visit our current vacancies page.