999 Day - Meet Kelly, fire control operator and volunteer police officer
As part of #999Day, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is highlighting its staff that wear more than one uniform to protect their communities.
Kelly Bingham is a Temporary Crew Manager in the Control Room at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service where she has worked for nine and a half years. She works to supervise control officers who answer 999 calls in people’s hour of need. As well as answering 999 calls, control officers also dispatch firefighters to a variety of incidents from house fires and road traffic collisions to water rescues and chemical incidents.
Kelly is on Blue Watch, one of four watches that follow the same rota as the Service's wholetime firefighters, and her team works closely with those on the frontline.
“The role is more than answering 999 calls,” says Kelly. “There’s a big difference between other services’ control rooms where you are either call taking or dispatching. We see jobs the whole way through by call taking, sending the closest crew to incidents, talking to other agencies that are required at the scene like the Ambulance Service and the Police. If we need to attend incidents on the county border, we’ll need to get in touch with other fire brigades.
“It’s a busy role but I love it when it’s busy.”
Outside of her full-time career with the fire service, Kelly volunteers her time as a Special Inspector in Basildon leading a team of 34 volunteer police officers. She’s given her time as a volunteer police officer for 19 years to help make Essex a safer place to live, work and travel.
Kelly said: “My day job and volunteer policing role give me the best of both worlds. I spend my working life in the control room where we answer emergency calls and dispatch our fire service colleagues to incidents and then as a Special Inspector I get to experience what it’s like to be dispatched to emergencies and having both perspectives helps me in both roles."
While pregnant with her son, Kelly went above and beyond to continue volunteering with Essex Police, she put together dedicated policing operations and training sessions for her team to continue to support their development. She was recognised by Essex Police during its 2018 awards with the ‘Special Constable of the Year award’.
Kelly and her fire control room colleagues are one of the first voices a person in crisis will hear when calling the Service, remaining calm and reassuring is key to gaining relevant information.
“We have to reassure people and keep them calm, I always treat them how I would treat one of my loved ones, like my grandad.
“I know it’s hard in the moment but my advice to everyone calling 999 is to keep calm as best as you can. The more information you can give will help to mobilise the relevant teams.”
To learn more about the emergency services working to keep Essex safe, follow the hashtags #EssexUnites, #StaySafeEssex and #999Day.
Page last updated 9 September, 2021