The fragility of today’s economic climate has meant that businesses come and go at a faster pace than ever before.
As a result, when a Fire and Rescue Service is called out to an incident, the business operating out of a property may not always be accurate. This will inevitably lead to an unprecedented delay in the deployment of response vehicles to the scene, the consequences of which are easy to imagine.
In addition to the growing trend for short-lived pop-up shops appearing on our high streets, established businesses continually move, change names or close down, and new start-ups are born. This ebb and flow of businesses in our local cities, towns and villages can create a substantial drain on fire and rescue services’ resources, as these address changes are often not recorded by the local authority or Royal Mail in good time. When there is a gap in the business address information available, a Fire Command and Control Centre may need several people simultaneously searching the internet for information that may or may not be correct.
Response times tested
This was a very real challenge for the Network Fire Services Partnership (NFSP) – a collaboration between Devon & Somerset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Services. Through a shared Command and Control System, the aim of this partnership was to enable a more efficient deployment of fire and rescue services to an emergency call out. However, the efficiency of reaching business emergencies in good time was being greatly tested.
Using Aligned Assets’ Business Names software
The NFSP were already sharing the Aligned Assets gazetteer, Bluelight, so the move over a year ago to share and access the most accurate business data from 118 Information through our Business Names software was a natural progression. This business address data is the most accurate and comprehensive list of businesses actively trading in the UK, and is maintained by continued verification through direct contact with businesses. By embedding the 118 business information into the gazetteer management system to fill the gaps within the existing AddressBase Premium list (provided by Ordnance Survey), we were able to feed this most up-to-date business data into the NFSP’s Vision Command and Control system provided by Capita. Looking back over the past year, Stuart King, NFSP ABR Vision Lead & Fire Control System DC, reflects on what they set out to achieve,
‘Our key goals were about time savings. It was crucial to reduce our call handling time by accurately finding the business in the Command and Control gazetteer. We also wanted to reduce fire crews’ attendance time by being able to correctly identify and communicate the business name and address. In the past, we’d often had to rely on crews actually seeing fire and smoke to identify the location of the incident, and as we know, not all emergencies are identifiable that way.’
‘Since enhancing our gazetteer with 118 Information, we’ve seen a more accurate identification of business addresses for our 999 call handlers and operation crews. This has led to an average reduction in Business Incidents’ attendance times of 30 seconds – and that can mean the difference between life and death.’
A second efficiency the NFSP has benefitted from has been the 90% plus reduction in requests to amend gazetteer entries from 999 calls, dropping from 10 – 20 per month per Fire Service to none, or the occasional one. This means the resources used to manually update the gazetteer can be better spent responding to emergency calls.
This simple but innovative use of data and expertise from different sectors has led to an extra 45,000 business addresses being available to the NFSP for emergency response in the South West, leading to greater safety and security for those businesses, their employees and their customers.
Find out more about how Business Names can be used to feed the most up-to-date 118 Information into your gazetteer.