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Fire and rescue control operator

With around 32,000 calls coming into the control room each year, this team are a vital link in the work of Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire and rescue control operators’ job is to obtain enough information from the caller and, within 90 seconds of taking the call, to decide what fire crews and equipment to send to the incident. Sometimes this will be quite simple but on other occasions they will have to use their calming influence to talk to distressed callers and pinpoint their location on a motorway or in a remote rural area. At times the survival advice they give members of the public over the phone really can save lives.

Once firefighters have arrived at the incident, they remain in constant contact with the control room to report on the progress of the incident and to request any additional crews or equipment that may be required.

They are also a central communication point between our firefighters and agencies such as the police and ambulance services.

Frequently asked questions

What are you looking for?

To be a fire and rescue control operator, you should be able to demonstrate the following personal attributes:

  • Confident communication skills (oral, written and comprehension skills)
  • Effective and confident telephone communicator
  • Good keyboard skills
  • Be able to work calmly under pressure maintaining attention to detail
  • Enjoy contributing to a small team environment
  • Be able to prioritise events and take appropriate action
  • Be able to absorb verbal and written information and apply this both practically and theoretically to NVQ Level 3 standard or equivalent
  • Be self motivated, with aptitude and ability to undertake intensive initial and ongoing training and assessment

What is the recruitment process?

When a vacancy arises and after completing an application form, those people short-listed will be asked to take part in a selection of general ability tests. These tests focus on your listening skills, English comprehension and your keyboard accuracy and speed. Success in these tests leads to a formal interview and medical examination. An appointment will then depend upon satisfactory references and Criminal Record Bureau check.

How old must I be to apply?

You must be aged 18 or over at the time of your application.

What are the working hours?

During training, hours are Monday to Friday 0900-1700. KFRS runs two shift patterns:

  1. 42 hour per week average across an eight week rota, comprised of two consecutive day duties (0700-1900), followed by two consecutive night duties (0900-1700). There are then four rest days.
  2. 29 hours per week average across a five week rota, comprised of early shifts (0800-1500) and late shifts (1500-2200).

Where will I be based?

You will be based at the Fire and Police Control Centre, Police Headquarters, Sutton Road, Maidstone, Kent.

What training will I receive?

The initial training is an intensive course lasting five weeks and is classroom based. It includes both theory and practical application of skills. Once you join the overlay shift or one of the four 'watches', your training will continue to develop and improve your skills.

Is there a pension scheme?

Yes – You can contribute to the Local Government Pension Scheme.

How much annual leave will I be entitled to?

Fire and rescue control operators are entitled to 30 days annual leave each year. You will also receive a paid holiday on, or in respect of, public holidays.

Will I have to wear a uniform?

Yes, a uniform is provided.

Case study

Hannah Park -
Fire and Rescue Control Operator 

Hannah joined Kent Fire and Rescue Service in April 2012 as a trainee Fire and Rescue Control Operator. Prior to starting a course, trainees are sent basic information to learn.

The training course lasts for five weeks and is classroom based. The training is comprised of theory, written and practical sessions. You are also given opportunities to practise your skills in the Fire and Rescue Control Centre (FRCC) during this training period.

On starting the training course, it became apparent that Hannah was not as conversant with this information as others on the course.

Hannah said: “I didn’t realise how much information I would need to take in within such a short space of time.  I knew it would be hard and felt I was prepared but found it much more difficult than I’d realised.”

However, she was able to demonstrate her knowledge in some aspects of the role but appeared to struggle in others. This was more evident during the written and practical assessments that are carried out periodically on the course. Hannah is enthusiastic and determined to succeed and worked hard to learn the information required of her, passing both the written and practical assessment.

Following the course, trainees spend time working within the Control Room under supervision. During this time trainees receive daily feedback and regular one-to-one development discussions. Hannah received positive feedback during this phase of her training.

At 8.36am on 20 June 2012, less than two months after joining the service, Hannah took a call from a teenage girl trapped in a fire.

Hannah remained calm, provided essential life saving advice and dispatched the appropriate resources to this incident.

There is no doubt that perserverance in her training gave her the self-assurance to deal with this call.

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