Control Room Manager
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue

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Alwyn F

00:00:05 My name’s Alwyn F and I’m the control room manager at the main control room for Lothian and Borders, Fire and Rescue, and we’re based at Tollcross in Edinburgh.

00:00:17 It can be stressful at times when you’re taking a call and someone’s, say, trapped by fire but fortunately those calls are not that common, although we train quite hard to deal them and it’s the training that gets you through it in the end, and we work as a close team. So you’re never…you never feel really isolated dealing with it on your own. So I suppose in that way, any stress is kind of dissipated or shared among the team.

00:00:49 When I was at school, I didn’t have a clear idea of what career I would want to do and I think that was the norm at that time. But I became interested in psychology and wanted to be a child psychologist, which was unusual because I didn’t know anything about children and I was only 18 at the time. So I went to university and studied psychology and English and graduated and then thought, ‘well, I don’t know what I want to do now’. And it was just by chance that my sister saw the job of a fire control operator advertised and she phoned me up to tell me about it and I applied. So, I joined…I got offered the job, took the job and I’m…thirty years later I’m now in charge, which was quite a journey.

00:01:43 I’ve brought in with me my long service and good conduct medal which anyone who knows me would laugh about me having a medal, or me being remotely proud of this medal, but I quite like it. Everyone gets it provided they’re here for, I think it’s 20 years. The good conduct bit, I don’t think they checked my past before they gave me it, but it is quite a nifty wee thing and it pins on, you have a little ribbon on your jacket and it just pins on and you can wear it on special occasions. How many people have got a medal? I think it’s great I’ve got a medal.

00:02:23 A highlight for me in the Fire Service has been meeting my current partner, who I probably wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t joined the Fire Service. But the other high point is, I suppose, if I hadn’t joined the Fire Service or had a well-paid job, I’m just back from Everest base camp and I don’t suppose I could have funded that so easily if I’d not had a well-paid job. High points in terms of my career. Well one would maybe just be last week after Bonfire Night where we…I put into place this new plan for how we would manage the control room and the calls and it went really well. It was something new, it was something different, a bit of change. And yet, you know, we really came up with the goods and I felt that a high point. Feeling I’d done…made a difference and done a good job.

00:03:15 I’ve never regretted joining the service and I’ve never looked back and thought, ‘I wonder what my life would have been like had I been a child psychologist’. But I have in a roundabout way come back to psychology and I’ve got a post grad diploma in counselling, so I’m a qualified counsellor, and I’m now back thinking about Freud and all these other issues that I was studying 30 years ago so. It’s a funny world.

00:03:45 Five years time, I’ll still be here. Ten years time, I’ll probably have retired and I’ll be doing voluntary counselling and still studying and listen to my Bob Dylan music and play my guitar and whatever. A hippie to the end in spite of my uniform. ENDS


Alwyn F is a Control Room Manager for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue. She combines her psychology and counselling background with her firefighting. “It can be stressful at times when you’re taking a call and someone’s trapped by fire”.

More information about Senior officers in fire, ambulance, prison and related services

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

74%  male 
26%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Fire officers plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the activities and resources of a specific physical or functional area of a statutory or private fire brigade/service and the resources necessary for the protection of property at fires within a salvage corps area. Ambulance officers plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the resources necessary for the provision of ambulance services. Prison officers (principal officer and above) plan, organise, direct, and co-ordinate the activities and resources necessary for the running of a prison, remand or detention centre. Customs officers plan and direct the work of customs, excise and immigration staff in the monitoring and inspection of goods and persons crossing national borders.
The position of senior fire officer is achieved by internal promotion. Entry to senior positions within the prison service and revenue and customs is either by internal promotion or by open competition; both organisations operate accelerated promotion schemes available to internal and external applicants. Entry to the prison service is subject to age restrictions, and both the prison service and revenue and customs impose nationality conditions. Entry to senior positions within the ambulance service is largely by internal promotion from supervisory roles.
  • Liaises with other senior officials and/or government departments to determine staffing, financial and other short- and long-term needs;
  • Prepares reports for insurance companies, the Home Office, Scottish Home and Health Department, and other bodies as necessary;
  • Advises on the recruitment, training and monitoring of staff;
  • Fire officers plan, direct and co-ordinate an operational plan for one or more fire stations, attend fires and other emergencies to minimise danger to property and people, arrange for the salvaging of goods, immediate temporary repairs and security measures for fire damaged premises as necessary;
  • Ambulance officers plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the activities of ambulance personnel and control room assistants, for the provision of ambulance services for emergency and non-emergency cases;
  • Prison officers interview prisoners on arrival and discharge/departure, receive reports on disciplinary problems and decide on appropriate action, make periodic checks on internal and external security, and provide care and support to prisoners in custody;
  • Revenue and customs, excise and immigration officers advise on the interpretation of regulations concerning taxes, duties and immigration requirements and enforce these regulations through monitoring of premises, examining goods entering the country to ensure correct duty is paid and establishing that passengers have the necessary authorisation for crossing national borders.
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