Responding to emergency calls and attending incidents

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) respond to emergency calls from members of the public, organisations and other emergency agencies  and we need to collect and process personal information about  individuals and others involved in the emergency, in order to carry out our services.

The categories of the information that we collect, process, hold and share include:

  • Contact details of the caller*.
  • The address of the incident, which may be the address of your property
  • Voice recording of all calls that are made in and out of our control room, including 999 calls
  • Victim incident information (including name, address, age, gender, telephone number, injuries, details of any medical support given)

*Even if you have barred the 'calling line identity' facility, your telephone number will be displayed to the operator and recorded to enable us to ascertain an approximate location of the emergency.

Why we collect and use this information

We collect this information to enable us to carry out our statutory duties under the Fire Services Act 2004 to respond to emergencies.

Once the incident is closed, we keep incident data for other purposes including:

  • Mandatory reporting of national statistics to the Home Office which are anonymised
  • Provision of evidence for law enforcement investigations and court hearings, such as audio recordings or transcripts of 999 calls
  • To help identify and reduce the number of hoax calls and false alarms
  • To investigate the cause of fires and other incidents
  • To analyse incident data to manage performance, identify trends and predict areas within our communities which are more likely to experience emergencies.  The information gathered is used to plan how to use our resources effectively in the future.
  • To facilitate public safety and fire prevention work, which may include sharing personal data with our partners

The lawful basis on which we use this information

We have statutory duties under the Fire Services Act 2004 to respond to emergencies. We also adhere to the Home Office Fire and Rescue National Framework for England, which states that we are expected to develop partnerships to support risk reduction services to those identified as vulnerable and wherever possible to share intelligence and relevant risk data. Collecting and sharing of incident data is for these reasons.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) our lawful basis on which we collect and use this information is that it is necessary for the ‘performance of a task carried out in the exercise of our official authority’ as a Fire and Rescue Service (Article 6, 1 (e)). Special categories of personal data (sensitive personal data) are collected and used for  the substantial public interest of the data subject (Article 9, 2 (g) of the GDPR and Data Protection Bill Schedule 1, Part 2 - Statutory and Government purposes).

Collecting this information

Personal information will be either obtained from callers, victims, witnesses, AF&RS staff and other emergency services’ staff where other agencies are involved in the incident.

Collection may be over the phone or in person and transferred onto our mobilisation system and the Home Office Incident Recording System (IRS) by AF&RS staff.

Storing this information

We keep incident mobilising data indefinitely to analyse how best to serve our community and to track trends over time. We also keep incident logs and voice recordings of emergency calls indefinitely so that it is available for evidence for a court hearing and to aid Law Enforcement investigations.  In the event that we no longer require this data for the purpose specified, it will be securely disposed of.

The information gathered during the incident is stored on the Control mobilising system(s), with access restricted to those who need it to perform their role, such as Control Room staff, operational crews and Managers.

Who we share this information with and why

During a response to an incident, information regarding the incident is shared with operational crews to help assist with deployment and their response. Verbal and electronic messages are relayed between operational crews and Control to ensure an effective response to the incident.

Information may be passed to partner agencies and other emergency services in attendance. For example, we may share medical information to support the ambulance service in providing care to you, in order to protect your vital interests.

Incident reports and fire investigation reports may be disclosed to owners/occupiers of an affected property or vehicle, as well as solicitors, insurance companies and loss adjusters acting on behalf of the owner/occupier or a third party. All such requests must be in writing and dealt with as a Freedom of Information request. We will ensure that the information that we disclose is lawful and in line with the data protection legislation.

We share information with the Home Office via their Incident Recording System (IRS) for research and statistical purposes. They have their own Privacy Notice and if you would like to read more, please visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/data-protection-and-privacy-notices

In the interest of the public, we publish details of incidents on our website, social media accounts and liaise with local press on incidents of interest.  We do not share personal information of the victims involved, however, persons can sometimes be identified due to the location and scale of the incident.

We also publish anonymised incident data on our website and within various performance reports https://www.avonfire.gov.uk/our-performance

After an incident we may send a survey to ask for your views on our service. If you choose to complete the questionnaire, all responses are anonymous. They are returned to an external organisation called Opinion Research Services, who are an independent research company who will process and analyse the responses, and provide us with a summary to help us improve our performance.

In the event that we are required to share your personal information in other circumstances, such as with other Law Enforcement agencies for the prevention and detection of a crime,  we will always ensure that we have a valid lawful processing condition that allows us to share the information, whilst taking into consideration your information rights and expectations.