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Fire Service call centre closure would put local lives at risk- Farron meets local Officers' to back their campaign

October 26, 2009 12:00 AM

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has met with a group of local firefighters from Cumbria to discuss the government's FireControl Project which plans to close down Cumbria 's fire emergency control room and relocate it to a single centre in Warrington . This would also lead to a reduction of two-thirds of the call centre staff. Tim met with the firefighters at the House of Commons.

The project has already cost the government £1.4billion despite its initial purpose to increase cost-efficiency and has instead exceeded its budget of £100million. Mr Farron has expressed his concern that the project will undermine the speed and the quality of the service provided by the emergency control rooms and with fewer members of staff on duty, call-handling capacity will be reduced.

The Fire Brigade Union have declared that they have no confidence in the system, with 92% believing that it would worsen response times to incidents. Mr Farron has therefore called on the government's plans to be abandoned and for the existing control rooms to be upgraded with better technology and improved systems to provide a reliable and local service.

Commenting Tim Farron said:

"The regionalisation of emergency call rooms has been an utter waste of money, which could potentially put people's lives at risk by reducing the number of calls that can be answered.

"From the discussion I've had with local firefighters, it's clear that this is nothing more than a government cost-cutting exercise, which will result in the loss of vital expertise and knowledge provided by local control centres. For example, if someone rings the call centre in a panic saying that their house is on fire and that they live in Staveley, will someone at a call centre 70 miles away know to ask 'which Staveley'? The loss of local knowledge could cost lives.

"The government should be listening to the advice of the Fire officers, who are the experts on this issue, and keep the emergency control centres where they are."