Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 10, 2011 06:37 ET

Cumbria Fire Brigades Union Calls for Re-Think Over Moves to Axe Fire Control Centre-Plan Called in for Scrutiny by Councillors

CUMBRIA, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Oct. 10, 2011) - Cumbria's fire crews have called for a re-think of moves to axe Cumbria's 999 fire control and farm the work out to Cheshire. The union says the plans are ill-thought out, a bad deal for council tax payers and could increase risk to the public and local fire crews.

Staff were told of the plans on 6 September and hastily rubber-stamped at a County Cabinet meeting on 15 September. Since then, county councillors have demanded the plan comes in for further scrutiny at a meeting which will take place on 12 October.

The union firmly believes that the move to unnecessarily outsource the fire control function to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service in June 2012 has been greatly overshadowed by the plans for the North West Regional Control Centre in Warrington which is scheduled to go live in 2014/15.

The regional fire control plans put together by the north west fire authorities followed the collapse of a central Government project to deliver a north west regional fire control. The Government project was axed at a loss of nearly £500 million to the taxpayer in one of the worst IT disasters the Public Accounts Committee said it had ever seen.

The FBU said Cumbria appears to have ignored the lessons of that debacle and doubts remain that the technology talked up by Cabinet is that different from the software proposed as part of the Government's Control Centre fiasco.

Ade Kevern, FBU brigade secretary said: "Our control are at the heart of Cumbria Fire and Rescue service's response, they are the front line of the front line. Cumbria's Control operators and fire crews are intrinsically linked, working closely to ensure the best possible response is made to operational incidents.

"They are the 1st point of contact for those in distress and their value has been clearly evident during a number of major multi agency incidents, including the 2005 and 2009 floods and the Greyrigg rail crash

"Control crews agreed to reduce staffing levels last year from 15 to 12 and to alter shift patterns with the promise that this would secure the future of the control centre. It appears that the power brokers within the County Council want to walk away from their fire service in the quest to save a minimal amount of money. Our Control staff are dismayed and feel they have been betrayed.

"Cost savings are exaggerated if they exist at all. Cheshire wants to close its control to make savings although the 'savings' figures don't add up either.

"The plan involves axing Cumbria's control and moving to Cheshire, then it closing and moving to Warrington. At the same time there are still plans to potentially merge with Northumberland fire service.

"When the chips are down and the people of Cumbria need us, the control centre has never failed. This is ill-thought out, a bad deal for council tax payers and could increase the risk to the public and fire crews."

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