Responding to emergency calls and attending incidents

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 do this.

The categories of the information 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 made in and out of our Control room, including 999 calls
  • Any victim incident information you give us (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. This is so we can quickly find the approximate location of the emergency you are calling from.

Why we collect and use this information

We collect this information so we can carry out our statutory duties to respond to emergencies under the Fire Services Act 2004.

We will keep data once the incident is closed for specific purposes, including:

  • To investigate the cause of fires and other incidents
  • To plan how to use our resources effectively in the future, by analysing the incident data to identify trends and predict areas within our communities that are more likely to experience emergencies
  • To manage performance, monitor equipment use, identify training needs, and carry out incident reporting and statistics monitoring
  • To report statistics to the Home Office (these are required by law to create national statistics, and are anonymised)
  • To provide 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 facilitate public safety and fire prevention work, which may include sharing personal data with our partners
  • To hold the Patient Report Forms for medical treatment (or when treatment is refused) which our crews may provide when attending incidents for Clinical Governance auditing.

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 follow 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.

The 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 (UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK-GDPR) 2016, (Article 6, 1 (e)). Sensitive personal, or ‘special category’, data can be collected and used for the substantial public interest of the data subject (Article 9, 2 (g) of the UK-GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 Schedule 1, Part 2 - Statutory and Government purposes).

Collecting this information

Personal information will be taken 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 is transferred onto our mobilisation system and the Home Office Incident Recording System (IRS) by AF&RS staff.

Our crews will complete a Patient Report Form for any medical treatment provided or refused at the incident scene. 

Storing this information

We retain incident mobilising data and incident logs data for up to 10 years, so we can analyse how best to serve our community and to track trends over time. We retain our voice recordings of emergency calls for 7 years, so they are available if needed for evidence in a court hearing or to aid Law Enforcement investigations.  All data is securely disposed of once the given retention period is reached.

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.

We may retain copies of Patient Report Forms for 7 years after the incident. 

Who we share this information with and why

During a response to an incident, information 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.

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 will be dealt with as a Freedom of Information request. We will ensure that the information we disclose is lawful and in line with data protection legislation.

We must by law share some information with the Home Office for research and statistical purposes. This is via their Incident Recording System (IRS), and they have their own Privacy Notice.

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.

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

If 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 we have a valid lawful processing condition which allows us by law to share the information, whilst taking into consideration your information rights and expectations of privacy.


Updated 06 December 2022