Share situational awareness with buddy, consortium and other fire and emergency controls during periods of multiple calls and multiple incidents

Control Measure Knowledge

Accurate and prompt information sharing between buddy, consortium and other assisting emergency controls, during or in anticipation of multiple call or multiple incident events, develops joint situational awareness.

Fire control commanders should ensure contact is established between buddy, consortium and other assisting emergency controls, and they may consider nominating a single point of contact (SPoC) with responsibility for maintaining that communication. The SPoC may be anyone with suitable training for the task.

Contact between buddy and consortium controls may be achieved using pre-identified methods, including electronic methods, dedicated telephone lines and radio communication.

Electronic methods of communication available to fire control personnel range from email to multi agency incident transfer (MAIT). The suitability of each method will depend on the importance of the information being received, the technology available to fire control personnel and the intended recipients of the information being shared.

MAIT is a secure method for sharing incident information with other emergency controls. It allows emergency control personnel to share incident information electronically quickly with one another without the need to speak every time there is new information. MAIT is particularly beneficial in multiple call and multiple incident scenarios and provides a method for the affected fire control and assisting controls to pass accurate incident-related information to each other significantly quicker than making individual telephone calls.

MAIT may reduce the number of telephone calls being made, freeing up fire control personnel to act on the information received. Fire control personnel can gather additional information about an incident and build their situational awareness by reviewing the incident logs received through MAIT.

Electronic methods of communication should be used to complement verbal communication. For example, during a complex incident, fire control personnel may find verbal discussions with personnel from other agencies beneficial for developing shared situational awareness.

Conference calls may be conducted using video conferencing platforms, separate telephones or through the integrated communication control system (ICCS). When conducted through video conferencing platforms or ICCS, the conference call is likely to be recorded, providing an audit trail, which may be of benefit later.

Talkgroups are readily accessible by other emergency controls through compatible devices. Fire and rescue services have access to their own unique hailing talkgroup, which is continuously monitored in their fire control.

The sharing of situational awareness between assisting buddy, consortium and other fire and emergency controls should continue for as long as is necessary under the circumstances.

In the case that other emergency controls are managing emergency calls on behalf of a fire control, the Emergency Services Inter Control (ESICTRL) talkgroup or a relevant hailing talkgroup can be used to communicate a M/ETHANE message and the same risk-critical information and instructions for returning incident-related information as has been announced to assisting buddy, consortium and other fire controls.

When call redistribution plans are instigated that extend beyond buddy and consortium arrangements, such as Operation Willow Beck, fire control commanders should proactively share situational awareness to include a wider network of recipients.

National Talkgroup 20 (NTG20) is an announcement talkgroup that enables instantaneous critical announcements by fire controls. Announcements on NTG20 will benefit other fire controls that are likely to receive emergency calls on an affected fire control’s behalf, for example under a call redistribution plan. All fire controls in England, Scotland and Wales can receive announcements on NTG20.

NTG20 announcements are one-way announcements by affected fire controls. They help to build the situational awareness of other fire controls when the affected fire control is, for example:

  • Experiencing multiple call conditions that is exceeding their emergency call management capacity and is implementing a call redistribution plan
  • Managing multiple survival guidance calls and needs to share critical information with assisting fire controls, such as:
    • Emergency advice to give to emergency callers
    • The current evacuation strategy, such as ‘stay put’ advice
    • Changes to evacuation strategies
    • The methods assisting fire controls should use to pass back incident-related information

Making announcements on NTG20

Announcements on NTG20 should be succinct, clear and accurate to ensure the necessary information is understood by all fire controls. Announcements should:

  • Begin with a pre-broadcast message to alert other fire controls and enable them to be ready to record the message details
  • Follow the M/ETHANE message structure
  • Be passed clearly and at dictation speed, adhering to the principles of accuracy, brevity and clarity
  • Include phonetic spelling when communicating details such as location names
  • Include full address and postcode when describing incident locations
  • Where necessary, include a grid reference or details from other locational tools to confirm location
  • Make clear the methods to be used by assisting fire controls to return incident-related information in announcements
  • Be repeated to help other fire controls accurately record the information

More information on how assisting fire controls use NTG20 can be found in Control measure – Prepare to manage remote calls during periods of multiple calls.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions