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Surrey Fire and Rescue Service - translation and interpretation policy

Policy purpose

In order to meet the needs of some people, it may be necessary to have documents translated or to engage an interpreter. This policy and guidance is designed to ensure consistency in the use of translation and interpreting services, and to ensure we are improving access to our information.


In line with latest Communities and Local Government (CLG) guidance (Guidance for Local Authorities on Translation of Publications December 2007), Surrey Fire and Rescue Service will apply a common sense approach to translation.

Latest guidance requests a greater emphasis on all UK residents learning English to aid integration in communities. Thus the Service will only translate documents into other languages in a targeted way, where it is necessary (such as information relating to vital public safety), and also when requested by a member of the community, rather than as a matter of course.

Both the Equality Impact Assessment and the communications campaign plan should identify the key target groups for a publication and/or a campaign, and also the audiences' needs. If there is a clear need to translate information because a publication is aimed specifically at a non-English speaking community, this will be facilitated.

CLG also recommend key public bodies apply the following key tests to establish if there is a need to translate:

  • Is it essential that this material is translated - and what is the evidence of both need or that people will be disadvantaged without it?
  • If it is essential, are you using sound data when deciding which languages you translate into?
  • Does the information need to be translated in full or could this information be better provided by a community partner?
  • If the information is needed (such as for safety or health reasons) can you promote English alongside it? So for example, using pictures or symbols with English alongside or bilingual translation including English.

A native speaker should back check translated materials wherever possible.

The Service also provides common questions and answers in 40 languages on the Mobile Data units. This allows crews to engage with non-Engish speakers for risk critical information at incidents, for example to ask them if their lorry contains hazardous materials.


Surrey County Council has a contract with 'Language Line' who can provide interpreters over the phone for members of the public who would like to find out about our services in another language. To arrange, ring the Contact Centre on 03456 009 009 or see the Translation advice web page for more information.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's Mobilising Control centre also work with the Operator to assist deaf and hard of hearing callers when making 999 calls. Using 'Type Talk', the caller can ask questions and take instructions to and from Mobilising Control via the Operator.

Alternative formats

We will provide key publications in different formats on request. These formats include EasyRead, Braille, large print and Audio CD.