By Rebecca Curley, Local Democracy Reporter, 22 October
It’s a map of risk. But this Dynamic Tool data centre is what is going to keep people safe at night once changes to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are made.
That’s according to assistant chief fire officer Dan Quin.
He has been a firefighter in Surrey for around 20 years and has spent the last few years working on the computer software that tracks every single fire engine, vehicle, firefighter and fire officer in the county.
For the first time SFRS opened its doors to the media to see the control room in Salfords.
Tucked away behind the screens are the team of operators taking the 999 calls from residents and deploying fire crews to respond.
It’s a software system based on years of risk data that will help monitor and track how fire stations are covered.
Fire officer Quin, who is assistant chief fire officer for community, safety and risk reduction, is confident SFRS can implement all the changes it wants to as part of its transformation, and still reach victims at speed.
He said: “Our technology really does allow us to know the location of each of our fire engines all the time and then when we get a call we can see which will be the nearest and quickest and most appropriate to respond to that incident.”
By plotting where engines, personnel, crews and vehicles are at all times using airwaves that everyone is linked up to, the map predicts the areas at risk of less cover while others attend an incident. The operators can then deploy and move crews and engines as needed to alleviate the risk and ensure the county is properly covered.
Once a call comes in and the most appropriate engine and crew is deployed, the map changes colour to show where some areas are at risk and which would be the nearest station to attend if something happened.
Staff then make the changes as needed. This will happen during the day and night.
There has been a great deal of opposition to the changes Surrey County Council is going to make to fire cover at night with protests, petitions and fears raised by firefighters themselves.
But fire officer Quin is confident the software at the control centre will monitor and track everything.
He said the “first and most important thing” is that any changes still mean they can meet commitments to response times that a fire crew attends within 10 minutes.
Built around five years ago, the ORH Dynamic Tool Cover is state-of-the-art technology and is unique to SFRS.
It works 24/7 and tracks every appliance.
The operations room has access to CCTV cameras of the motorways and major road networks in the county and a special operational control room can be set up to offer specialised monitoring for serious and major incidents.
But it’s making sure the cover is still provided once the transformation of SFRS takes place that fire officer Quin is sure of.
He said: “There has never been this level of scrutiny of the fire service. It’s going to be a phased transition. If there is something we need to consider further we can do so. We will continue to progress.
“Day and night we can see the risk change and our response to the risk will change to get the best outcome.
“This ensures we can provide the best cover for all the residents in Surrey.”