Prioritise higher-priority incidents during periods of multiple incidents

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with:


During periods of multiple calls and incidents, people may call 999 for advice about situations that are lower risk and that do not require an emergency response, therefore not all emergency calls will result in operational resources being mobilised. An incident may be considered lower risk because there is no risk to people, property or the environment. Fire control personnel may decide it is more appropriate to signpost some callers to more appropriate sources of help, such as another category 1 emergency service, a local authority or environmental agency.

Fire control personnel should capture full and accurate information through the creation of an incident record on their electronic mobilising system for each emergency call received, whether operational resources are mobilised or not.

If an emergency call does not result in an operational response, fire control personnel should ensure this is understood by the caller before ending the call. In this instance, fire control personnel should consider providing the caller with the unique incident reference number generated by the mobilising system relating to their call. This is likely to have two positive effects: leaving the caller satisfied that their information has been acknowledged, while offering an efficient method for fire control personnel to identify a link with the previous calls should the caller recontact the fire and rescue service.


Accurate and detailed information will support fire control personnel in effectively prioritising emergency calls based on an understanding of risk during periods of multiple calls and incidents. To aid prioritisation during periods of multiple incidents, information gathered should highlight:

  • People at risk
  • People with vulnerabilities, heightening their level of risk
  • Property at risk
  • Risks to the environment

Information gathered should be accurately added to the relevant incident log and shared with fire control personnel, operational personnel and other relevant agencies.

Effective incident types

Having a range of suitable incident types helps fire control personnel to effectively select the most appropriate incident type based on the information available to them at the time of managing the emergency call. An incident type should reflect the type of incident being attended and level of priority and risk, helping fire control personnel to prioritise by identifying any risks to ensure an appropriate level of response is mobilised.

Some mobilising systems allow incident type priorities to be configured so the most critical incidents, such as life risks, are prioritised over lower-priority incidents.

The National Incident Type List contains incident types that share similar hazards. This approach reduces the overall number of different incident types while making the nature of the incident clear.

Redirection of operational resources

Information gathered through effective emergency call management may lead fire control personnel to divert operational resources from one incident to another, often referred to as redirection.

For example, a resource that has been mobilised to a small fire outside may be the nearest appropriate resource to a higher-priority incident such as a building fire involving people at risk. In this instance, fire control personnel should:

  • Redirect the operational resource to the higher-priority incident
  • Mobilise another resource to the original, lower-priority incident
  • Ensure the reasons for redirection are recorded on the incident log
  • Consider supporting the instruction to redirect with verbal communication to operational personnel to avoid any confusion

Where the rationale for redirecting operational resources is recorded on the relevant incident logs, this will provide an audit trail which may be of use later.

Technology such as automatic vehicle location technology integrated with mobilising systems will help fire control personnel accurately determine the location of available resources.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions