Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service


Major incidents pose a particular communications challenge to emergency services. On the one hand, when disaster strikes, the need to communicate and respond as quickly as possible can be critical to saving lives. On the other, major incidents can affect the communication infrastructure on which responders rely. For example, this might hinder the answering of 999 calls or the ability to cooperate effectively when multiple agencies are involved.


Before the merger of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Fire Control, the existing control in Cambridgeshire had a divert procedure for unanswered 999 calls. If there was no answer from the primary line, calls would be automatically rerouted to a secondary number in the same centre. If within a strictly controlled time limit there was still no response, calls would be passed to a ‘buddy brigade’. Whilst this was functional, the technology behind it was very complex. It meant that if call handlers needed to relocate to their secondary control, managing call handling became a serious challenge.


The most striking outcome of deploying BT smartnumbers is the simplicity of redirecting phone calls, which can now be done in a couple of seconds. Using BT smartnumbers, call forwarding plans can be accessed and controlled with a single call or via the web portal.

Teri Seaber, Group Commander for Joint Fire Control, said: “It is absolutely brilliant because it’s always live, and if we ever have to evacuate, we can mobilise from the car on the way to our secondary control.”

“The BT smartnumbers service, coupled with other resilience mechanisms, now means we are as disaster-proof as it is possible to be.”

Teri Seaber

Group Commander Joint Fire Control, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Combined Fire Control