Fire centre cuts ‘undermine safety’
Closingfire control centres will undermine the ability of the fire service to respond to major incidents such as rail crashes and industrial explosions, says the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
The government plans to merge the Cumbria fire control centre with another in Cheshire in the summer of next year. However, the Cheshire fire control centre is itself due to close and be relocated to Warrington in 2014-15.
The number of Cumbria control centre staff has already been reduced from 15 to 12 (as part of an earlier deal to secure the future of the centre). However, Cumbria County Council is now reneging on that deal. Ade Kevern, FBU brigade secretary said: “Our control staff are dismayed and feel they have been betrayed.”
Kevern added that Cumbria’s control operators “are the first point of contact for those in distress, and their value has been clearly evident during a number of major multi agency incidents, including the 2005 and 2009 floods and the Greyrigg rail crash…This is ill-thought out, a bad deal for council tax payers and could increase the risk to the public and fire crews.”
The government appears not to have learnt from the failed attempt by the Labour government to create a central north west regional fire patrol. The centre collapsed, resulting in a loss of £500 million.