Fire authority secures £1.8 million grant

Flood evacuation practice at Stoke Goldington'''Wk 10 MPMC
Flood evacuation practice at Stoke Goldington'''Wk 10 MPMC

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority has secured a £1.8 million government grant to pay for the set-up costs of its control room project.

In November last year it submitted a bid to support its proposal to join the combined Cambridgeshire and Suffolk control room in Huntingdon.

Fire Minister Bob Neill announced yesterday that it had been approved as part of a £74 million package to improve the resilience and efficiency of local fire and rescue control rooms across England.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Adrian Crook, said: “We are pleased to note the support from the government for our preferred option of a combined control room initiative with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

“This will deliver many benefits and efficiencies, including the provision of enhanced emergency call-handling technology, improved fire and rescue service interoperability and local and national resilience. It will also create sustainable savings, thereby relieving pressure upon local taxpayers.

“The funding means we can implement this plan without financial impact upon our own resources and frontline operational firefighting resources.”

The plan to share a control room follows the cancellation in 2010 of the previous government’s FiReControl project, which would have replaced the 46 fire service control rooms in England, including Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s control room in Aylesbury, with nine regional centres.

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority considered a number of options before deciding in September last year that a partnership with Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service, to which Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service had already transferred its control room function, appeared to offer the best combination of service, value and readiness.

It is making every effort to redeploy control room staff affected by the proposal. As a first step, substantive recruitment into any role that control room staff have the skills to do, or could have with a reasonable amount of training, is being filled on a temporary or fixed-term basis.