Watch Manager A – Control
Role: Watch Manager A – Control
A little bit about my role…
In my role as a Watch Manager within the control room, my duties involve supervising the day to day running of the Control Room.
No two days are the same, due to the dynamic nature of the job and our primarily rural service with ever changing availability of RDS stations.
I have also been an RDS Firefighter, responding to incidents in my area.
What activities do you do on a typical day?
A normal day for me doesn’t start without a cup of tea!
Within the Control Room, throughout the day one of my many jobs is to maintain fire cover - I am constantly checking our stateboard screen and Gartan to ensure sufficient fire cover is maintained across North Wales. We liaise with the availability manager throughout the shift, and highlight any crewing issues in an attempt to get stations back on the run. This is a dynamic situation and due to the nature of the RDS shifts, availability is constantly changing. Control staff ensure cover is maintained and this sometimes involves control staff juggling resources and personnel as best required.
When 999 calls are received, my job is to supervise the call taking by monitoring the call, by both listening and viewing the details being entered on the new incident screen. It is my job to pre alert crews dependent on the incident type, to give them a head start whilst the operator ascertains further details. I can then also make an assessment whether the incident looks like it could be developing or escalating and begin notifying relevant managers.
We share facilities with North Wales Police, and when I am in charge I sit next to the Police Force Incident Manager (FIM) and the WAST Clinician, this gives me invaluable instant access to further resources or advice as and when required. We regularly liaise with one another be it for assistance, missing persons or for any developing incidents.
Being a firefighter has given me an insight in to the opposite side of the job, and I have found this to be invaluable. I found I was able to educate other firefighters about the role of Control staff and have been able to offer more awareness to Control staff as to what it is like at an operational incident.
When it comes to new procedures or practices, I am able to see things from RDS crew’s perspective and can explain the logic and reasoning why things happen the way they do from my Control point of view.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy working as part of a close knit team, working with information technology and the excitement of dealing with operational incidents and never knowing what we are going to have to deal with. I get a sense of satisfaction when an incident is dealt with successfully.
Why did you choose this career?
The thought of a career in the fire and rescue service seemed exciting and secure along with good prospects and pay, and the opportunity to work with and help the communities of North Wales appealed.
What qualifications or experience do you think are necessary to do this job?
For a role within the control room, a good standard of education is required, including the ability to communicate fluently in Welsh and English. A background in ICT would be beneficial as we use information technology in everything we do, and the ability to use Microsoft software is a must.
Experience of multi-tasking, or being able to prioritise your workload, and the ability to work under pressure in a disciplined environment are essential.
Realistically speaking, common sense is also an essential requirement, as well as the ability to work with others.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
Having a good work ethic is a great start, we rely on each other to work as a team and having reliable, capable and driven team members is a must.
We work unsociable hours including evening and weekends and so we spend a large proportion of our time together.
Personally speaking, I would advise any potential candidates to ensure they are fluent in Welsh and English, computer literate and able to work under pressure.