Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

March 10, 2011 08:06 ET

Secret Costs of Closing Low Emergency 999 Uncovered

ISLE OF WIGHT, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) - A secret document outlining the costs involved with the permanent closure of the IOW's only emergency 999 fire control room have been leaked to the Fire Brigades Union. If approved it would see Isle of Wight council tax-payers subsidising Surrey residents, whilst at the same time see a lesser service for Islanders in future.

FBU IOW Control Representative Andrew Cooper said "The lack of foresight, depth and clarity in this report is astounding, given the recent history of the Government wasting £460m+ on the abandoned regional fire control centres over the past eight years.

"The Fire Control Full Business Case raises more questions than it answers. It's riddled with inaccuracies and assumptions that make it unsafe to base such a vital decision on. The report hugely understates the specialist and local knowledge of the island that is used by IOW Fire Control staff on a daily basis to give local residents the best possible and safest service. The report only considers the option to outsource to Surrey and has failed to adequately explain why other local solutions have not been researched, costed and presented as an alternative.

"None of the professional views and serious concerns expressed by IOW 999 Fire Control Staff appear in the report. As such it is not a balanced open report, nor does it include any costs to society, therefore withholding vital information from the public.

"Cost assumptions within the report are widely inaccurate and give a distorted picture of the costs of the current control. In 2009 the control costs were disclosed to DCLG as £483,000. The report now states them as over £600,000 with no breakdown or explanation for such a significant rise."

FBU Regional Secretary Ricky Matthews said "There are so many assumptions made throughout the document it has become almost worthless. How can councillors agree to permanently close the islands only emergency fire 999 control room, effectively making 12 dedicated long serving IOW firefighters redundant, based on assumptions:-

  • Its assumed that Councillors in Surrey will support the plans
  • Its assumed that the additional funding needed is available
  • Its assumed that control of the project remains with the IW FRS
  • Its assumed that the other essential services that carried out by emergency control staff will pass to the council
  • Its assumed that IW Fire & Rescue Service would look to a 5 year contract as a minimum"

FBU Regional Control Representative, Paul Watts said "This proposal is being pushed through at a time whilst there is currently a Government consultation taking place on the future of emergency control rooms. I would urge Cllr's to wait for the outcomes of that consultation. Failure to do so could cost the island tens of thousands of pounds in Govt grants and would ensure that the costs already invested in this botched plan don't become significant."

Ricky Matthews added "Unfortunately if the Council agrees the proposals presented to them it will leave the FBU little alternative other than to begin legal action. This will be to defend residents' rights to maintain their island emergency service and to protect IOW firefighter's employment rights. This course of action will undoubtedly be a lengthy and expensive process for both sides, but I hope it can still be avoided.

"We believe Councillor's need to pause, take stock and look at the reality of what's being presented to them. There is far too much risk which is outside the control of the Council on the IOW to make this a viable plan. 

"The Fire Brigades Union has previous experience of working jointly with Cllr's and senior officers to find solutions to difficult problems. Given the opportunity we can provide alternative solutions which benefits Cllr's, Officers, firefighters and most importantly Island residents, even at this late stage. 

"We strongly urge Councillors & The Chief fire officer to shelve this botched proposal and enter into meaningful consultation with the FBU and the islands professional command & control staff to find a suitable alternative solution."

Contact Information

  • Andy Cooper
    IOW Control Rep
    07889 182762
    Ricky Matthews
    FBU Regional Secretary
    07917 065863
    Paul Watts
    FBU Regional Control
    07917 065869
    Sharon Riley
    FBU Executive Council Member Control
    07889 088423
    Further info can be found at: