Cupar Fire Station, Fife Fire and Rescue Service

Youíve discovered a fire and dialled 999.

All phone companies in the UK have a requirement under the terms of their licence to provide a Public Emergency Call Service. Your call will be routed to an emergency operator. The emergency operator will see your phone number (and for mobile calls the zone code or calling cell identifier) on their console. For emergency calls your calling number cannot be withheld. The emergency operator will ask you which emergency service is required - Fire, Police, Ambulance or Coastguard.

You request the Fire Service

The call is put through to the appropriate Fire Brigade Control Room. If the control room is using British Telecomís Enhanced Information Service for Emergency Calls (EISEC), your address will be displayed to the Emergency Control Room Operator.

The Control Room staff decide to mobilise a fire station and send out an appliance to the incident youíve reported.

The mobilisation system at the Emergency Control Room sends a message to the fire station, using the GD92 communications protocol developed by the UK home office. The mobilisation message may be sent via ISDN, PSTN or radio. The message is received and actioned by the Station End system.

The message can initiate a lot of activity at the fire station. The alarm bells can be rung, the lights can be turned on, the fire station doors can be opened. Details of the incident can be printed for the Fire Officers to take from the printer on their way to the appliance.

Itís an unmanned fire station.

These are known as "retained" fire stations. The Fire Officers live or work near the fire station, and they are equipped with pagers. Depending on the size of the fire station, the Fire Officers may be organised into a number of teams. The Station End system pages the members of the teams specified in the mobilisation message. The Fire Officers receive the page, make their way to the fire station, and attend the incident you reported earlier.

But thereís one important question we havenít considered yet:

How do the Fire Officers get paid?

Retained Fire Officers are paid a retainer fee, a fee for attending a weekly Drill Night, and a turnout fee for attending each incident. The pay rates vary depending on the rank and length of service of the retained Fire Officer. When the Fire Officers return to the station after an incident, the senior officer present will complete a form detailing the length of the incident and the officers who responded to the incident. The forms are processed by HQ and entered into the payroll system. This can be time consuming and error-prone. Hereís a better way: