Next stage of firefighters control room project approved

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

Following last year’s decision to bring forward proposals to outsource its control room, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority has today taken the next step towards a plan to share the combined facility currently serving Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

It would mean firefighters at Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s 20 fire stations being mobilised to emergency incidents in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes by staff in Huntingdon from April 2013, and the closure of the control room in Aylesbury.

The authority, which comprises members of Buckinghamshire County Council and Milton Keynes Council, will make every effort to redeploy its current control room staff.

Members had selected the proposal as their preferred option in September last year after also considering a Thames Valley-based partnership, outsourcing to London or retaining the existing control room.

They made today’s decision – to make a formal approach to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority to outsource to the control room in Huntingdon – after considering a progress report from Deputy Chief Fire Officer Adrian Crook.

It outlined the work that has been undertaken by all three fire services, and Remsdaq, the firm whose technology system is used in the Huntingdon control room, to confirm the financial and operational viability of the project.

Councillor David Rowlands, Chairman of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, said: “The report shows that this move could generate savings of £600,000 a year without compromising the safety of the public or our firefighters.

“Today’s decision brings us a step closer to starting to make the arrangements, and commit resources, pending formal confirmation from the other fire authorities.”

Government funding of £1.8 million means Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority will not have to draw on financial reserves to deliver the project. More than 30 other fire authorities in England have also received grants to help fund control room mergers and other improvements.

Last year’s decision to work towards sharing a control room follows the cancellation of FiReControl, a project launched in 2003 by the previous government, which would have replaced the 46 fire service control rooms in England with nine regional centres.

Under the cancelled project, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and the other eight fire and rescue services in the South East would have shared a control room in Fareham, Hampshire, from this year.