Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has a sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure to enable rapid response to emergency incidents, coordination of command officers and specialist resources, communication for incident management, and the timely dissemination of information within FRNSW and externally to other stakeholders.
We have two Communication Centres in Sydney and Newcastle which take all the emergency calls in NSW. This includes calls coming through the Triple Zero (000) service and calls from automatic fire alarm systems.
The two Communication Centres deal with approximately 260,000 emergency calls a year. Fire and Rescue NSW receives between 10% and 12% of the total volume of Triple Zero (000) calls generated in NSW. The remainder is shared between NSW Police and NSW Ambulance.
Fire and Rescue NSW Communication Centres act as call centres for the NSW Rural Fire Service and, through a Mutual Aid Agreement, take overflow calls to the NSW State Emergency Service.
All Fire and Rescue NSW Communication Centres are staffed by trained firefighters, who are required to serve in a fire station for four years before they can apply for specialist training and transfer into these demanding and challenging workplaces.
When a call is received at a Communication Centre it is entered into our computer aided dispatch system, FireCAD. This system is used to find the location of the call, identify the nearest FRNSW resources and automatically alert the most appropriate resources so they can respond to the incident. The system can also identify and respond specialist resources such as rescue units, hazardous materials response units, aerial appliances or specialist officers.
When the call-taker/dispatcher has selected the appropriate resources, the dispatch system automatically sends a message to the fire station giving details of the call, rings the station bells to alert the firefighters, and can turn on the lights and open the station doors. When a fire engine crewed by retained firefighters is responded, FireCAD sends a dispatch message to the retained firefighters' pagers alerting them to the call.
If the firefighters are not at their station, for example if they are returning from a previous call, the Communication Centre will contact them by their vehicle-mounted radio.
Communication at incidents
The Communication Centres keep in contact with the fire crews at incidents by two-way radio. Portable, hand-held radios are also used by fire crews at incidents to communicate with each other and with the Incident Controller.
Mobile telephones are also used and satellite telephones are used in some areas where other forms of telecommunications are not available.
At major incidents, the FRNSW may use an Incident Control Vehicle which is fitted with computers, incident management software, additional radio equipment, telephones, video equipment and a weather monitoring station, as well as providing a sheltered space from which the incident can be managed.
What happens when you call Triple Zero (000)
Triple Zero (000) is a free National emergency hotline service to contact Fire and Rescue NSW in case of fire, hazardous material spillage, rescue or other emergency.
You should ring Triple Zero (000) for Police, Fire or Ambulance in a time of critical emergency.
Triple Zero (000) is for emergency use only. For routine matters, and for non-emergency calls, contact your local fire station.
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regulates and monitors the emergency call service under federal legislation. For more information see www.acma.gov.au [external link]
For information on how to call Triple Zero see our Triple Zero factsheet
For more information on calling Triple Zero in Australia see www.triplezero.gov.au [external link]