‘Uber for fire engines’ launched in London

Published:  17 November, 2015

The London Fire Brigade said today that it has launched its new state-of-the art mobilising system for handling 999 calls in the English capital.

The new system, supplied by Capita Communication and Control Solutions, is used by 999 control officers to deal with emergency fire calls and assign fire engines to emergencies. In London over 170,000 emergency fire calls are received each year.

The system uses GPS tracking technology combined with real-time status information, similar to taxi apps like Uber, allowing the Brigade’s control officers to track all of London’s 155 fire engines on screen in order to send the closest available fire engine to an emergency. Control officers are also able to watch each fire engine’s journey on-screen, whilst at the same time reassuring callers as to the estimated time of arrival. London’s firefighters attended an average of 263 incidents per day last year.

It also allows the Brigade to determine the location of those dialling 999 from a mobile, which should help control officers to pinpoint the location of emergencies with greater speed and accuracy.

The new system also means that fire engines will now be mobilised to emergencies according to their proximity to incidents, a change from the old system, where engines were mobilised from the closest fire station, rather than where the actual engines were. This should lead to a quicker response to emergencies.

The new system will lead to a more streamlined and quicker call handling process when people report fires and other emergencies to the Brigade.

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said:  ‘This state-of-the-art system uses the latest technology to allow us to deal with emergency calls efficiently and get fire engines to incidents more quickly. This could ultimately lead to more lives being saved.

‘It is incredible how far technology has come since the 999 system was first set up in 1937. Back then operators were alerted to an incoming 999 call by a flashing red light and a klaxon.

“Fortunately the vast majority of people never need to call 999, but when people are in need of assistance from the Brigade I hope they will now receive the help they need more quickly than ever.’

Paul Eggleton, Managing Director of Capita Communication and Control Solutions said: ‘Capita has worked in partnership with the Brigade to deploy its market-leading solutions into one of the busiest fire services in the world. The new solution is the most advanced of its type bringing together 999 call handling, radio communications, incident recording and intelligent resource deployment. Many innovative features have been introduced which will improve the efficiency of the process and as a result improve the overall service to the citizens of London.’

As well being able to track fire engines, the new system will also provide control officers with much more specific addresses for incidents, again leading to faster response times. The Brigade’s old system allowed the Brigade to search for over 80,000 street records when directing a fire engine to an emergency, whereas the new system holds over 7.5 million addresses.

The technology is already successfully being used by the majority of UK fire services and emergency services in Europe and Australia. 

  • Operation Florian

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