In New Zealand the number to dial in an emergency is 111. Telecom answers 111 calls and puts them through to Fire, Ambulance or Police. There is a charge for making false 111 calls or possible police action for making malicious 111 calls. If you want a fire truck to come, 111 is the number you need to ring, not your local fire station or any firefighters you might know.
Anything which could cause loss of life, serious injury or loss of property is a Fire Service emergency. Call 111 and ask for Fire, you’ll be put you through to the Fire Communications Centre (FireCom). Calling from the Wairarapa, you will usually be transferred to FireCom in Wellington, however in times of high demand, you may be put to FireCom’s in either Auckland or Christchurch.
Fun activities for children and to help them learn about 111 emergency calls click here
The first thing you’ll be asked is where is your emergency? Ideally, you’d tell the operater the street name, street number and town of where the emergency is. Next you’ll be asked for the nearest intersection on that street, this provides a cross reference to confirm the location and in the case of long streets, whereabouts in the street it is. For rural addresses, knowing the rural rapid fire is very useful, it provides a very accurate location. If you are in an area that you are not familiar with, look for any landmarks, businesses or even co-ordinates off a car GPS, it all helps.
Next you’ll be asked what your emergency is, what is actually happening. Is it a fire, a car crash, a tree fallen and pulled down power lines, etc...
Depending on the nature of the emergency, there’s some other really important questions FireCom will ask. Are you safe? Are you injured? Is there anyone trapped? How many people are trapped? Is there a risk of someone being injured? Is there anyone who is already injured? How seriously are they injured? etc...
FireCom will try and gather as much information as they can relevant to the nature of the emergency to ensure that the appropriate response is provided. If Police or Ambulance are required, FireCom will respond them also. In New Zealand, Fire, Police and Ambulance have a shared communication centre computer system, allowing for instantaneous inter agency communication.
Volunteer firefighters all carry pagers, which they respond to when a call out happens. The pager will have a short message telling us where and what the emergency is. In Greytown, the fire station also has a siren mounted on the tower, this helps to alert us to the callout during the day. The siren only operates from 7am to 8pm, outside of these hours it will only sound as backup system, for example because of a possible pager system failure.
We will respond to the fire station and get into our fire fighting gear. Once we have a driver, officer and at least 2 firefighters, we’ll be on our way. Our fire truck leaves the station on average between 2mins:45secs and 3mins:15secs from the time during the 111 call that FireCom confirms the address of the emergency.