Union calls for end to 'farce'

PUBLISHED: 11:25 22 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:05 15 June 2010

THE Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) has slammed claims that regionalised fire controls will allow firefighters to do their job more safely and effectively.

THE Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) has slammed claims that regionalised fire controls will allow firefighters to do their job more safely and effectively. Devon and Somerset FBU Secretary Trevor French said: "Recent claims are that provision of satellite navigation and global positioning systems in fire engines will enhance our service, and this may be true, but the fact is these facilities have nothing at all to do with the regional FireControl project. They are features of FireLink, a new radio scheme being developed that will be introduced with or without regional controls. The Scottish Government recently withdrew from FireControl, and will now introduce these facilities into all local fire and rescue controls in Scotland, something we have been repeatedly asking our politicians to do in England."FireControl is attracting ever more controversy. At the beginning of July the Government finally admitted the massive savings it originally predicted for the project will not materialise, with an annual saving for the whole of the South West of just £64,000. In the meantime, development costs for the nine regional control centres (RCCs) proposed to replace the current 46 local fire controls, have risen from £100 million to nearly £1.5 billion, and even this huge amount does not include a large amount of extra 'out of scope' work that existing controls currently undertake and will still need to do even with regional controls. The project is now years overdue, and has still not been operationally tested."The situation is so dire, the union claims, that Jerry Wilmott, Chair of South West Fire Control Service Ltd (the company set up by fire authorities to run the control) recently wrote to the Government's Fire Minister Parmjit Dhanda, stating: "With the exception of the Fire Brigades Union, who are watching their well predicted events unfold with relish, confidence amongst the company directors, our hard working officers and, we suspect, fire authorities is now rock bottom. Although we will cope with this setback, I need to advise you that our current perception is that it is highly unlikely that our client fire authorities will agree to move their operations into the RCC voluntarily." FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: "This project is in complete disarray and the fault lies with the Government in Whitehall, not with fire authorities, fire officers or contractors. Apart from a few paid project cheerleaders, the fire service is thoroughly sick of the mayhem this project has caused.

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