Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Careers - Firefighter Control

Dean McWhirter Position Firefighter Control Regional Control Centre, NIFRS HQ, Lisburn

How long have you been a Firefighter Control?

 7 ½ years
Outline a typical day for you –
On reporting for duty, whether it be a day or night shift, the first thing that happens is my watch parade.  This is when a roll call is taken, staff uniforms are inspected and control room duties are delegated among staff for that shift.  Once parade is dismissed, there is a short handover period in the control room.  This is where all relevant information is passed on from those going off duty to the watch coming on and it includes a brief of any incidents in progress as well as any other relevant departmental information.
Once at my position in the control room, I along with other watch members commence the shift by collating the wholetime stations manning levels.  This is to ensure sufficient crewing on stations to staff and manage all the appliances.  Officer availability is also checked.  Throughout the shift, I pack in a mixture of duties.  These include answering and mobilising firecalls, radio communications and monitoring incidents from start to finish.  I also complete computerised statistics after each incident from which reports can be drawn, along with many other administrative duties.  During each shift I am also expected to carry out elements of training, to develop my skills and keep me up-to-date with policies and procedures.

What qualities & skills do you feel are needed for the job?
Developed oral and written communication skills are essential in this job.  The control centre is essentially the communications hub for the Fire Service.  Good listening skills are needed, especially for taking emergency calls.  Team working is critical, not only within the Control Room context, but also among the operational staff on stations.  An ability to make quick decisions, whilst working under pressure is also essential as well as using your own initiative.
What would you say is a highlight of your job?
The fact that although some of the work in routine, no two shifts are the same.  One tour can be so different from the next, depending on the nature of the incidents that are handled.
… and the challenges?
The most challenging aspect of my job at present is keeping up to speed with all the changes that are occurring.  This includes a raft of policy and procedural changes within the Service, and also changes in the technologies that are employed within my job.  Indeed the implementation of the new TETRA radio scheme will present many challenges in the near future.
How do you unwind off duty?
I am a member of a local fitness club -LA Fitness- near to my home which I frequent whilst off-duty.  There I engage in a variety of cardio-vascular exercise to include running and cycling and swimming.
I also regularly attend organised classes in body-pump, body combat and spin at the gym.  To relax I enjoy eating out regularly in a variety of restaurants.

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