Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

July 14, 2008 12:15 ET

Fire Project Unravels: "It Is Highly Unlikely That Our Client Fire Authorities Will Agree to Move Their Operations to the RCC Voluntarily"

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - July 15, 2008) -

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Fire authorities have warned fire minister Parmjit Dhanda that it is unlikely south west fire authorities will agree to shut down their local fire control centres and move to a regional centre in Taunton. The message was given in a letter from the local government company set up to run the control centre and signed by Jerry Wilmott, chair of Wiltshire Fire authority on their behalf.

The Fire Brigades Union says it is well aware of growing concerns about the Project in other English regions since the Government admitted last week that the massive savings they promised will not emerge. The project is now years overdue, well over-budget and has not yet been operationally tested.

The Government plans to close all of England's 46 fire brigade emergency control centres and their back up controls and move to 9 regional controls. The project costs, first estimated at costing Pounds Sterling 100 million, have risen to nearly Pounds Sterling 1.5 billion as it grew to include extra items such as renting new buildings.

But even this excludes a huge amount of extra work currently carried out in fire service controls at the moment. Fire authorities will either have to pay for this work to be contracted out or pay the new regional controls extra money for doing the work.

In a letter to fire minister Parmjit Dhanda, Jerry Willmott, Chair of South West Fire Control Service Ltd (the company set up by the fire authorities to run the controls) wrote on 8 July: "In essence, the message that I have been asked to convey is one of immense frustration, profound disappointment and an overall feeling of being let down once again by CLG failing to honour the promises that they make. We feel that our personal credibility is being compromised and that is absolutely unacceptable.

"With the exception of the Fire Brigades Union, who are watching their well predicted events unfold with relish, confidence amongst the company directors, our hard working officers and, we suspect, fire authorities is now rock bottom. Although we will cope with this setback, I need to advise you that our current perception is that it is highly unlikely that our client fire authorities will agree to move their operations into the RCC voluntarily. If it remains CLG's intention that this should occur, then you need to consider how this may be achieved in the face of this opposition.

In another blow, Terry Walker, chair of Avon Fire authority said of the FireControl Project in this month's Firefighter magazine: "This wrong-headed, lunatic project is a nonsense and will certainly be neither robust nor up to standard. What it will be is a call centre, not a control centre and we've already seen the disastrous way that's happened with the police: a lot of questions are asked rather than sending the people to do the job."

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary said: "This project is in complete disarray and the fault lies with the Government in Whitehall and not with fire authorities, fire officers or contractors. Apart from a few paid project cheerleaders, the fire service is thoroughly sick of the mayhem this project has caused.

"Central Government's ignorance of the fire service is matched by the arrogance it has displayed throughout this project. For the last 6 years they have refused to listen and act on the concerns we have raised.

"Fire crews are crying out for basic safety critical equipment and training at a time when firefighter deaths have reached a 30 year high. To respond by claiming SatNavs and GPS systems are critical and key pieces of equipment is both bewildering and irrelevant to the dangers faced by firefighters."

For a copy of the letter to fire minister Parmjit Dhanda please contact Anna Zych annaz@fbu.org.uk.

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    FBU press office
    020 8541 1765