How we respond to emergency calls
When you call 999 about an incident, the BT operator will ask "what service do you require?". If you say "fire service", the operator will pass your call to our fire control operators.
The fire control operator will ask questions to try and understand what is happening. They will send the nearest available appropriate vehicles.
Once at the scene, the incident commander will assess the situation and may request further vehicles, if needed.
We have many different vehicles that can respond to an incident. These could include fire engines or specialist vehicles.
Who responds to incidents near you?
While you may have a fire station nearby, it may not always be a fire engine from that station that responds to an incident in your area.
We have a mixture of wholetime and on-call stations.
- Wholetime firefighters are solely employed by the Service and are at the station 24/7.
- On-call firefighters have other main employment and respond to incidents when alerted.
If your local station is crewed by on-call firefighters, there may be times during the day when there are not enough firefighters available to form a crew to respond to an incident. This could be because the station needs more firefighters and is recruiting. Or it could be that firefighters at that station are unable to respond due to other commitments. The crew from your local station could already be responding to another incident.
On these occasions, crews from neighbouring stations or from elsewhere in Devon and Somerset will respond to the incident.
We have many fire engines across the Service and we constantly move these around to cover areas so that we can maintain our response times.
All of our crews have access to local information so that they can understand the layout of local areas and buildings and any known risks.
Supporting neighbouring services
We also respond to incidents across our borders. This is to support neighbouring services in Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, and Dorset and Wiltshire. These services also send firefighters to incidents within Devon and Somerset.
Occasionally, our crews will support services further away. This will particularly be the case when there are large and ongoing incidents.