If you discover a fire:

  • keep calm and act quickly
  • get everyone out as soon as possible, using your escape plan 
  • before you open a door, use the back of your hand to check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on ther other side
  • don’t waste time trying to work out what’s happened or by rescuing valuables or sentimental objects
  • if there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer
  • get out of the building (close doors behind you), call 999, and stay out – don’t be tempted to go back inside

Advice to people calling 999:

Even if you think someone has already called 999 for the fire service, DO call us yourself to be sure. We’d rather get several calls about a genuine emergency than none at all.

The better the information you give to Fire Control, the better the details they can pass on to the firefighters on their way.

If you’re struggling to explain things, they’ll work with you to get the information they need quickly. While the fire engines are on their way, the operator will give you really important safety advice.

  • try to stay calm and speak clearly
  • operators will ask WHAT you’re reporting and WHERE it is
  • be ready with the house number, road name and district
  • the operator will also ask if you know the name of a road which joins the one where the incident is
  • even if it’s a fire outside, the number of the nearest house will still help
  • the postcode’s useful if it’s a common name, like Church Road
  • a landmark, like a big factory or a school, is good to mention.

If you can’t make voice calls

If you can’t make voice calls, you can contact the emergency services by sending an SMS text from a mobile phone to 999.

It’s a service specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech, but please don’t send ‘test’ or non-emergency texts. Only use the service for real emergencies.

It works on all mobile networks in the UK, but can’t be used from abroad.

In an emergency, text 999 and tell us:

Who? Do you need police, ambulance, fire and rescue, or coastguard?

What? Briefly, tell us what the emergency is.

Where? Where is the emergency – road name, house number, postcode, landmark? 

The emergency service will either ask for more info or let you know that help is on the way.

Do not assume that your message has been received until you get one back.

Hoax calls

We get far fewer hoax calls than we used to, but frustratingly it’s still hundreds a year.

Hoaxers put the lives of our firefighters and members of the public at risk. Malicious calls mean we send fire engines out on the roads, in emergency mode, when we don’t need to.

Such calls also mean that our life-saving resources can be diverted and tied-up without reason, denying people in genuine need. They disrupt our crucial community fire safety work and training, and place an extra financial burden on us and our communities.

Hoax callers who are caught by the police can be fined and jailed.

Our highly-trained fire control operators only challenge apparent hoaxers if their suspicions are raised. Their professional skills are backed up with one of the most advanced ‘command and control’ systems available, including satellite mapping technology, allowing them to look at historical emergency call data and the origin of calls.

Education about hoax calls features in our programmes for thousands of the region’s primary and secondary school pupils, and we teach them how to make useful and informative 999 calls.