London Fire Brigade

New 999 system launched

18 November 2015

We have announced today the launch of our new state-of-the-art mobilising system for handling 999 calls in the capital.

The new system, supplied by Capita Communication and Control Solutions, is used by 999 control officers to deal with emergency fire calls and assign fire engines to emergencies.

It will lead to a more streamlined and quicker call handling process when people call 999 to report fires and other emergencies to us.

In London over 170,000 emergency fire calls are received each year.

GPS tracking technology

The system uses GPS tracking technology similar to taxi apps like Uber. It allows our control officers to track all of London’s 155 fire engines on screen and mobilise the closest available fire engine to an emergency.

Our control officers will be able to watch each fire engine’s journey on-screen and reassure the caller by letting them know how close the fire engine is.

The new system also means that fire engines will now be mobilised to emergencies according to their proximity to incidents, a change from our old system, where engines were mobilised from the closest fire station, rather than where the actual engines were.

This should lead to a faster response to emergencies.

London's firefighters attended an average of 263 incidents per day last year.

Another new feature of the system lets control officers see the location of people who are calling from their mobile phones to report emergencies, which should help control officers to pinpoint the location of emergencies with greater speed and accuracy.

'Incredible how far technology has come'

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said: “It is incredible how far technology has come since the 999 system was first set up in 1937.

"Back then operators were alerted to an incoming 999 call by a flashing red light and a klaxon.

"It uses the latest technology to allow us to deal with emergency calls efficiently and get fire engines to incidents more quickly. This could ultimately lead to more lives being saved.

"Fortunately the vast majority of people never need to call 999, but when people are in need of assistance from the Brigade I hope they will now receive the help they need more quickly than ever."