June 21, 2009 09:11 ET
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 21, 2009) -
Attn: National and regional news desks in England. Regional details are at the bottom of the release
The Department for Communities and Local Government is considering a further 10 month delay to its centerpiece fire service IT project. The national network may not now be ready for the 2012 Olympics when it is meant to be at the forefront of any response to a major incident such as a terrorist attack.
The news was broken in The Observer newspaper. Fire service control staff in a number of regions across England started to be briefed about the news last week although no public announcement has been made.
Nine regional fire control centres were meant to replace the 46 existing emergency control rooms under a Project known as FireControl. The controversial Pounds Sterling 1.4 billion project was meant to be finished by 2007.
A series of delays followed by major technical problems has seen the completion date pushed back. 2012 Olympic host city London may not have its new control in time for the games, leaving it isolated and out of the network while the games are taking place.
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: "The project is in meltdown and may not be properly tested and in place for the 2012 Olympics, even if they can make it work. Fire services needed the entire national network to be bedded down and tested by summer 2011 and that will not happen.
"The options being looked at are farcical. They appear to be the last gasp of civil servants desperate to justify their previous recommendations.
"The new ministers need to take the opportunity to look at this project afresh and end it now to give the fire service certainty and end the anxiety being caused to control room staff. The only real option is keeping and upgrading our existing fire controls and getting the new digital radio system in place.
"We were told first of all this would be finished by the end of 2007, so many fire authorities put off upgrading their own systems. If the Government had not intervened with this plan all fire services would have had their own newer systems in place long before the Olympics.
"The project is already years late, massively over-budget and Government remain unable to convince the fire service they can make it work properly. To continue with these plans in this state is entirely irresponsible."
Media contact:Francis Beckett07813 001372
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