Organisation of the fire control function

Control Measure Knowledge

Managing and supervising fire control personnel is an essential part of the safe system of work that encompasses all aspects of fire control activity. Incident command in the fire control context allows the fire control commander to adapt and to organise the resources available to them to deal with incidents safely and effectively.

It is essential that the fire control commander continuously reviews progress to maintain their situational awareness. They must also ensure that measures to support communication and the sharing of information are put in place. Together, these steps will prevent the fire control commander from becoming overloaded with information, which supports effective situational awareness and decision-making. This way the fire control commander can maintain control under conditions of high pressure and rapid change.

The fire control commander should continuously review and assess fire control workloads to organise their team effectively, considering the welfare needs of fire control personnel and the availability of additional support.


Understanding the ‘span of control’ concept is important when managing a lot of activity and information. The fire control commander will usually be managing multiple incidents at any given time. Multiple fire control personnel may be passing information to them about different incidents or be trying to attract their attention. Fire control commanders should prioritise the designation and delegation of specific tasks, communicating clearly and confirming understanding.

To maintain manageable spans of control, fire control commanders may consider sectorisation when planning the activities of the fire control function. Any form of sectorisation should only be used if necessary, and fire control commanders should keep the structure as simple as possible. Doing so will reduce potential barriers to the flow of information between the fire control commander, fire control personnel and operational incident commanders.

Buddy or consortium emergency call handling arrangements are another method of sectorisation. The extent of what they can achieve will depend on the type of arrangements and technology. When considering sectorisation, it is essential that appropriate methods of communication and resource mobilisation are agreed between partners and the effectiveness of the plan is monitored throughout the event or situation.

Buddy, consortium or other organisational arrangements may require that a fire control commander conducts operations remotely. This may occur when there is a shortage of personnel, for example, because of sickness absence of fire control personnel, severe weather or other business continuity events. Where this occurs fire and rescue services must ensure appropriate methods are in place for fire control commanders to command operations effectively, including that support mechanisms are in place in the affected control rooms.

Sectorisation may not be achievable due to reduced numbers of fire control personnel, for example in fire controls with smaller teams. In such instances it is essential that the fire control commander makes an early assessment of the workload, selecting the most appropriate method to manage the situation. Even when tasks are delegated, the fire control commander remains responsible for overall incident management. They should remain focused on command and control, the use of resources, incident planning and the co-ordination of any sectorisation or delegation and designation of tasks.

To support the fire control’s scope of work, fire and rescue services need to identify the roles likely to be performed by fire control personnel. These will include the levels of skill and appropriate responsibilities for each fire control role and function.

Establishing joint working protocols with other fire and rescue services and other agencies may help to support sectorisation or the designation of tasks during a larger-scale or multi-agency incident. To ensure the flow of information and sharing of situational awareness, fire control personnel should be aware of operational command team roles and functions and establish single points of contact through which information can be relayed easily and quickly.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions