Major incidents pose an enormous challenge to emergency services. On the one hand, when disaster strikes, the ability to communicate and respond as quickly as possible is critical to saving lives. But these incidents can also impact the communications infrastructure on which 999 responders rely.

Being able to maintain the legally obligated level of response whatever happens was a particular concern to the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk fire controls when they merged to form a single unit – the first joint emergency control centre in the UK.

The combined fire controls needed to know that in the event of an unforeseen incident critical 999 calls would always get through, with no interruption to the single emergency service covering both counties.

Before the merger, the existing control in Cambridgeshire had a divert procedure in place to send any unanswered 999 calls to a secondary number in the same centre, or to a secondary ‘buddy brigade’ if there was still no response within a given time.

Whilst this was functional, the analogue technology in use was clunky and complex to use. In the event that operators had to relocate to their secondary control in an emergency it would be a serious challenge to carry out the required changes in an appropriate timeframe.


An upgrade from the old analogue system to a digital one during the process of merging presented an ideal opportunity for an upgrade to Resilient’s Smartnumbers, which carries out virtually instant call re-routing to the cloud.

The always-on service ensures calls have an automatic failsafe if anything happens to the main exchange, detecting any failure and instantly diverting calls.

Call forwarding plans can be controlled through the web portal, by a single call or via the dedicated Smartnumbers support team. Operators can change where calls are delivered from any phone or device whilst on the move to the stations’ secondary control during an evacuation.

This means they have the ability to automatically divert calls to a mobile phone that operators carry with them on the 15 minute trip to the secondary control centre.

“The Smartnumbers service, coupled with other resilience mechanisms, now means we are as disaster-proof as it is possible to be.”
Teri Seaber, Group Commander Joint Fire Control, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Combined Fire Control


The most striking outcome of switching to Smartnumbers is the simplicity of redirecting phone lines, which can now be done in just a couple of seconds.

With Smartnumbers in place, Cambridge and Suffolk Fire Control stays operational through almost any level of disruption, making the fire service more resilient than ever before.

‘The merger of the two control centres has created a more resilient and cost-effective service,’ said Teri Seaber, Group Commander at the new Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Fire Control. ‘The Smartnumbers service, coupled with other resilience mechanisms, means we’re as disaster-proof as it’s possible to be.’

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