NFCC Lead – Operational Communications

Fire Controls provide the first point of contact with the public in an emergency and their effective operation is therefore an essential enabler for effective overall fire and rescue response. The communications infrastructure that supports both control room and on-scene responders is an equally essential enabler. The effectiveness of both aspects is essential in ensuring that the public receive the best possible service.

The NFCC Lead for Operational Communications will play a vital role in advising senior stakeholders, engaging control rooms and control leads, lobbying Government and providing leadership across the sector in relation to control room and communication matters.

Modern technology has provided both a benefit and a risk for fire and rescue services; the quantity of media that could be shared with FRS in the future will place an increasing demand on the expectation on control room systems, control room staff and system managers. There are considerable projects and programmes underway, such as ESMCP and the replacement of the 999 infrastructure that will require considerable change within both control rooms and for responders on the ground. However this change provides a great deal of opportunity to further improve the service that the public receive and to support safe and effective fire service response.

In recent years FRS have played a very active role in leading key infrastructure developments through leadership of the 999/112 Liaison Committee, coordination of the implementation of Multi-Agency Incident Transfer (MAIT) and in the development of the Emergency Services Network (ESN).

All of the above provides opportunity for Services to add much more value to their communities, as demonstrated by their proactive response to Covid-19. Throughout the pandemic, their professional, pragmatic and adaptive approach - encapsulated in the ‘Ready Willing and Able’ ethos – has highlighted the potential that Services have to make an important contribution to emergency response in every sense, not just fire and rescue focussed.  

To support Services in these endeavours the NFCC Lead for Operational Communications will include:  

  • The primary purpose of the role is to lead FRS on all matters relating to control rooms and technical communications. The Strategic Lead will provide strategic advice to FRS to assist in effective operations and lead for the NFCC on discussions with external stakeholders to influence for the benefit of FRS and the public
  • Raising awareness of the opportunities and risks associated with the constantly evolving telecoms technology in the UK to ensure that FRS are prepared in good time to respond to changes or to influence changes as appropriate
  • Support NFCC to lobby for improvements, where appropriate, to the UK’s telecoms or control room provision to help services become even more resilient
  • Lead on all aspects of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP). This Programme will deliver the Emergency Services Network (ESN), the next generation of secure and resilient emergency services communications in Great Britain (GB), with integrated critical voice, mobile broadband data and significantly more capabilities than the current Airwave system. The role of the NFCC Strategic Lead will be to ensure that FRS interests are well represented and this is supported by the NFCC Fire Customer Group
  • Be the Airwave Senior Information Risk Owner for FRS and to ensure that Airwave continues to provide high quality communications capability until it is replaced by ESN. The NFCC Strategic Lead will represent FRS at the Emergency Services Airwave Strategy Group
  • Engage in, and support the UK’s 999/112 Liaison Committee which is a key interface between the emergency services, commercial telecoms providers (including BT who are the UK’s only Level 1 Public Service Answering Point), and Government
  • Engage and support control room and communications leads within Services as they respond to the rapidly changing telecoms and control room technology, including supporting the development of appropriate policies and procedures that seek constant improvement of FRS effectiveness 
  • Lead the NFCC Control Advisory Board to bring together FRS stakeholders to identify key priorities for control room and communications development and to use networking tools to share good practice
  • Ensure strong relationships are developed between key internal stakeholders such as the Mobilising Officers Group, NFCC ICT Leads and ESMCP Fire Customer Group
  • Where appropriate, provide responses on behalf of NFCC to consultations which are relevant to emergency control rooms and telecoms
  • Undertake effective liaison with government departments across the UK to ensure effective alignment with Government policy and strategies linked to emergency control rooms and telecoms, as well as progressing effective partnership working with other public sector organisations, such as the Police, NHS, Ambulance, MCA
  • Liaise directly with the statutory and commercial communications bodies such as Ofcom and commercial telecoms providers on behalf of NFCC and Services, to establish engagement networks and seek opportunities to support effectiveness and innovation 
  • Commission and co-ordinate work packages to develop relevant policies and procedures
  • Where necessary proposals/documents will be submitted to the NFCC Operations Coordination Committee to be taken forward to Council meetings

CFO Darryl Keen has done a great job leading the NFCC work on all aspects of technical communications and control rooms. Darryl retires from Hertfordshire FRS on 31st July so we are seeking expressions of interest to be the next NFCC lead.  

Communications and control rooms have a huge effect on the effectiveness of fire and rescue services. The advert sets out the breadth and extent of the role and the opportunity to build on Darryl’s excellent work to date. 

If you wish to contact Darryl for an informal discussion on the role please contact: Darryl.Keen@Hertfordshire.gov.uk  

If you are interested in the role then please send a short email outlining the reason for your interest and any supporting comments to nfccadminsupport@nationalfirechiefs.org.uk by midday on Friday 26th March 2021