County's new state-of-the-art fire control room

By Tim Clarke 13/03 Updated: 13/03 20:53

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THE CREATION of a new state-of-the-art control room which promises to improve the response of firefighters to emergency calls has secured £1.8million of Government funding.

The new centre, due to open later this year, will manage Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service's emergency 999 calls at its headquarters in Charles Hastings Way in Worcester.

The existing control room has operated out of the fire station in Copenhagen Street in the city centre for the past half a century. But, while the equipment has been updated a number of times over the last 50 years, the current system is now over 15 years old and in need of major investment.

The fire and rescue services in Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire are jointly developing new control rooms, which will use a shared system with common operational, technological and procedural practices. This will enable them to work together during major incidents and exceptionally busy periods.

It comes after the Government took the decision in December 2010 to scrap controversial proposals for a new FireControl system. This would have seen the replacement of the 46 fire and rescue services' local control rooms across England with nine purpose built regional control centres, linked by a new IT system.

Instead the Government made available a pot of £82.8million in funding for fire authorities to fund their own projects to improve the resilience, efficiency and technology of control services.

Coun Derek Prodger, chairman of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We purposely did not invest in our current control room for a number of years because we believed the regional control facility was imminent."

However, the coalition Government believed the project was not cost effective and devolved the responsibility back to the fire authorities.

"We welcome this funding announcement as it will enable us to provide an improved service for the residents of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.”

HWFRS’ Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates said he was delighted the service had been awarded the full amount of funding that it bid for.

“We believe that this state-of-the-art control room will improve the efficiency of our call handling function and improve our emergency response," he added.

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