Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has won a national award in the public sector’s prestigious annual efficiency awards. The Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise (iESE) awards highlight the best practice and improvement from councils, police & fire services. KFRS, along with Kent Police, won the Fire & Rescue Project of the Year category for its work to develop a shared 999 mobilising system.
KFRS is the first fire service in the UK to share a control room and work on a truly multi-agency mobilising system with police. The mobilising system provides real-time information on incident location and resources. This cost-effective solution allows the two services to share essential information, particularly during major emergencies, in order improve interoperability and rapidly mobilise the right resources. Other benefits to the move have included giving KFRS access to a countywide CCTV network, and improved joint working during major emergencies.
KFRS Chief Executive Ann Millington said, "We are delighted to have won this award. It is a credit to everyone who has put time and commitment into delivering the UK’s first multi-agency mobilising system.
"KFRS co-located its control staff to Kent Police HQ in March 2012. The initial co-location of the two Control teams improved interoperability and allowed the two services to work in a more joined up way, particularly in major emergencies. The next phase was to standardise the mobilising system and equipment. As a result we now have the only fully, multi-agency command and control system in the UK. It allows the two blue light services to work closely together and for our two teams to share information about on-going incidents quickly and effectively."
Chief Superintendent Nicky Kiell, Head of Crime and Incident Response at Kent Police, said: "I am delighted that Kent Police and KFRS’ joint partnership working has been recognised at a national level. ‘This is a perfect example of how a collaboration can be really successful and is a testament to the hard work and determination of many people in Kent Police and KFRS."
The project also included the replacement of telephony, radio communications, call recording and the use of automatic vehicle location, so that the nearest fire engine is sent to the fire, whether it is at a station or en route from another incident.
The new system provides real time information and allows 999 staff to make a mobilising decision very quickly using the latest technology. It also allows improved service delivery by standardising business processes and enabling KFRS to take advantage of the additional features within the Storm system, as well as future enhancements.
Appliances can now be mobilised on exact location informing from Airwave radios, with dynamic mobilising and new mobilising arrangement from fast roads and motorways. When our KFRS 999 team takes a call we very quickly know if it is going to be a multi-agency response or not. We can share information quickly between agencies to make sure the right resources are sent to the scene.
KFRS decided on the co-location to Kent Police after the project to regionalise fire and rescue control centres was abandoned by central government in December 2010. This would have meant the move of the KFRS control centre to Hampshire. After looking at all of the options, including a fire-fire partnership with neighbouring fire and rescue services, KFRS felt that it made most sense in Kent to collaborate with Kent Police. KFRS co-located its control staff to KP HQ in March 2012.
Photo caption: left to right – James Finch (KFRS Assistant Director Policy & Performance) Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority Member Tom Gates, Carol Norfolk of Kent Police and Sean Bone-Knell, (KFRS Director of Operations)