Fire service control link-up to save cash

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THREE of Yorkshire’s fire services have entered into agreements which will see them “collaborate” on their control room systems in an attempt to save money.

Services in South and West Yorkshire have won £3.6m for their project, while Humberside will share £7.2m with Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Hertfordshire.

The Government has made £74m available to brigades to allow them to merge control systems – a move which will allow them to handle each other’s calls when necessary.

Yesterday’s funding announcement follows the scrapping of a project to create nine regional fire control centres across the country, including one in Yorkshire.

The project, which was launched in 2004, was abandoned by the Government in 2010 and led to taxpayer-funded losses of half a billion pounds.

Yesterday senior officers in South and West Yorkshire welcomed the funding and said it marked the “start of a new era of inter-brigade co-operation”.

The brigades said long-term efficiency savings for the services would be over £400,000 a year and the system should be up and running by the summer of 2014.

No information was given on the impact on jobs, and nobody from the Fire Brigades Union was available for comment.

Fire Minister Bob Neill said: “The Government is adopting a more localist approach to help secure improvements in national resilience, rather than trying to impose a forced regionalisation.

“These locally-led bids show we can strengthen national resilience and adopt new technology to save lives, without top-down Whitehall micro-management.”