When the fire brigade analogue alerters were replaced in the nineteen eighties with digital devices, the Home Office Department of Telecommunications, who provided emergency services with their radio equipment, decided to adopt the POCSAG digital paging standard operating on a frequency of 147.800 MHz according to specification MG4.
Paragraph 11.4 of Fire Service Manual - Volume 1
MG4 calls for the use of alerters working to the POCSAG format which are produced by virtually all manufacturers, and uses a 7 digit numeric address or RIC (Receiver Identity code).
The Home Office instituted a numbering scheme whereby the last three digits are fixed for each Brigade. The POCSAG code allows the first four digits to range from 0000 to 1999, a total of 2000 codes per Brigade.
Each Brigade can decide how to deploy the 2,000 codes, by observation it generally appears the first two digits 'TT' define the team and type of callout and the next two digits 'SS' for the station number followed by the county code 'CCC'. creating the seven digit format TTSSCCC. Example: 0113225 = Team B at Station 13 (Rothwell) Northamptonshire. All team members have similar pagers that respond to the same RIC. Originally the alerters were tone only, generating one tone for call-out and a second tone for routine testing of the callout communications systems. Some Brigades have introduced text pagers and others have more complex arrangements in place.
The allocation of the last three digits of the RIC have been discovered by observation. The sequence is based on county names in alphabetical order, with each county being separated by eight. Those counties that have not been observed are a prediction based on the county sequence. The list is sufficiently well developed to believe it is fully accurate in England, Wales and NI.
Since the introduction of digital alerters many Brigades have combined and may use just one or both the codes. The presence of a confirmed code only indicates the code has been observed in the past. It is not an indication that POCSAG alerters are currently in use today.
The County Codes
Hereford and Worcester
Tyne & Wear
West Mids [reserved]
London N & S
Clwyd (Note A)
Dyfed (Note A)
Gwent (Note A)
Gwynedd (Note A)
Mid-Glamorgan (Note A)
Powys (Note A)
South Glamorgan (Note A)
West Glamorgan (Note A)
Highland n Island
Dumfries n Galloway
Argyll & Bute
E & W Dumbartonshire
E Ayrshire & E Renfrewshire
N & S Ayrshire
Renfrewshire & Invercylde
N W Glasgow
N E Glasgow
County / Country
Unknown (Note E)
0725665 05:30:21 10-10-23 POCSAG-3 ALPHA 512 Fire A 1893665 19:02:05 03-10-23 POCSAG-3 ALPHA 512 Test
List Updated 10-OCT-2023
A) The Welsh brigades merged in 1996 into Wales North [Clwyd;Gwynedd;], Mid&West [Dyfed;Powys;West Glamorgan] and South [Gwent;Mid Glamorgan;South Glamorgan]. They may be retaining their old county code or using 377 North Wales, 385 Mid&West Wales and 393 South Wales. Which code is currently in use needs confirming, but Blaenau, Harlech and Porthmadog were using their 401 code in 2019. Johnstown, Wrexham (formerly in Clwyd) using code 377 and a station using code 401 in June 2021.
B) Unable to safely predict these codes. If their order is alphabetical as in the rest of the list: North Yorkshire 329, Tyne & Wear 345 and a reserved allocation of 353 for the West Midlands who do not have any retained stations.
C) This list reflects the brigades in existence when the HO list was created and POCSAG pagers rolled out.
D) Maybe these codes are/were used by the Channel Islands and Scilly brigades.
E) During enhanced propagation this code was received in Pembrey, South Wales. ****665 has been received near Staffordshire too. Please get in touch if you know any more.
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have a combined control, I have been notified (June 2022) that some Derbyshire stations have been coded with the Nottinghamshire suffix 241 instead of 081 for Derbyshire. Likewise for Dorset and Wiltshire. In June 2023 some Wiltshire pagers have the Dorset suffix.
Its suggested that North Yorks may be using PageOne pagers and not Alerters on the common 147.8 MHz frequency.
Little is known about the allocation of RIC codes within Scotland. The section was based on a single observation on 147.8 MHz in February 2022 made during Roy's visit to Stranraer. Marc has kindly confirmed the codes for Fife and Lothian & Borders. L&B has a different RIC format SSSACCC where SSS is the zero padded station number and A the appliance. For example 0371481 is station number 37 (Penicuik), appliance number 1 in area 481.
I am most grateful to alan4694 and wrr6 who have contributed the majority of the codes listed. Dan kindly supplied the historic West Sussex code and added the 306 code was used for their pager scheme operating on the same frequency. Roy has confirmed D&G, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland. Marc added two more Scottish areas. If you have discovered any of the missing "Actual" county codes, even if they were used historically, please get in touch with me, so the list can be updated for everyone's benefit.
Please note: I do not keep a list of individual station codes as that is beyond my remit to reverse engineer the nineteen eighties list of county codes.