If you require the fire service always dial 999. Even if you’re not sure if you have a real emergency, still dial 999.

You can dial 999 from any private, public or mobile phone for free.

Please be aware that all calls made in and out of our Control Room are recorded, including 999 calls. We have a collaboration arrangement with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, and during busy periods your 999 call may be taken by them. 

Dos and don’ts for making an emergency call:

  • Don’t be afraid to dial the fire service in an emergency, even if you’re not sure if there is a fire. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Don’t attempt to contact your local fire station or the numbers listed in the telephone directory. Call 999 and you will be transferred to the fire service control room. Fire engines are only dispatched from the fire control.
  • Don’t think that someone else must have already rung for the fire service. We would rather receive several calls to a fire than none at all.
  • Do dial 999, and ask for the fire service, no matter how small the fire is because small fires can quickly spread into larger fires.

What happens when you dial 999

You will be answered by a telephone exchange operator who will ask you which emergency service you require.

Stay on the line and you will then be connected to the fire control room in Northallerton, NOT your local fire station.

Even if you have barred the ‘calling line identity’ facility, your telephone number will be displayed to the telephone exchange operator. This is a safety feature to enable us to ascertain an approximate location of the emergency.

As you are being connected to the fire service, you may hear the telephone exchange operator passing your telephone number to the Fire Control Operator, do not interrupt, it is vital that your number is recorded by fire control.

The Fire Control Operator will then ask you a number of questions:

  1. What is the full address? (It is at this stage that fire engines may be mobilised)
  2. What is on fire?
  3. Is there anybody trapped?
  4. Are there any nearby landmarks?
  5. What telephone number are you dialling from?
  6. You may be asked for your name and address.

Why we need to ask you these questions

  1. We need to know the address where the emergency is. This information is entered into our computer to enable us to pinpoint exactly where our fire engines need to attend.
  2. We need to know what is on fire, or what other emergency you have, to enable us to decide what our response will be, for example: how many fire engines we will send.
  3. We need to know if you and/or others are trapped inside a building to enable our highly trained operators to offer fire survival advice – This is only given if the persons trapped absolutely cannot get out.
  4. Nearby landmarks, such as pubs, public buildings or telephone boxes are valuable sources of reference which enable our crews to reach your location as quickly as possible.
  5. We need to know the telephone number that you are calling from so that we can contact you again, if we need any further information from you. This information is not given to anyone other than emergency service personnel.
  6. We may need to know your name and address. This can be used as a guide to where the fire has been seen from and to enable the crew to locate the original caller if there are any difficulties locating the incident.

It may seem as though you are being asked too many questions and your call is taking too long to deal with, don’t worry, the fire engines are often mobilised quite quickly and whilst we are still talking to you. We can then gather other valuable information from you which will be passed on to the firefighters while they are en-route to the incident. This information may include things such as whereabouts in a building people are trapped or whether there are hazards such as an oil tank or gas cylinders near the fire.

We endeavour to handle emergency calls to the fire service control room within 60 seconds from receipt of the initial call to mobilising the fire engine.

Get out, stay out, get the fire service out!

If you have a fire, do not attempt to extinguish it unless it is safe to do so. Leave the property, closing all the doors behind you, and do not go back into the property until you are told it is safe to do so by the firefighters who attend.

If you are trapped by a fire and cannot get out the building safely, don’t panic, our fire control operator will stay on the line with you and has been specifically trained to offer you fire survival guidance to help you until the fire engine arrives. (As a comforting thought, most doors will withstand a fire for approximately 30 minutes).

Unless you are directly affected by the fire and have an opportunity to escape, don’t put the telephone down until we have taken all the details.

Deaf or hearing impaired

You can use Relay UK (Previously Next Generation Text) to contact us in an emergency.

If you’re calling us in an emergency from a textphone, you should dial 18000.