Devon and Somerset fire centre merger plans discussed

Plans to merge the Devon and Somerset fire control rooms are being discussed by the fire authority.

The fire service needs to secure a new control room before the lease on its Hestercombe House centre in Taunton expires in October 2012.

The plans, which do not have a staffing model, are being discussed by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority.

Plans for a regional control centre in Taunton for six services were dropped by the government in December.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter Smith said: "The one in Taunton is actually designed for all of the controls across the South West, that makes it a very large building.

'Potential to go wrong'

"For us to lease that building back from the government would cost us an awful lot of money.

"We need time to plan it and get it right. We've learnt a lot of lessons from the regional control centre project."

Mr Smith said a new control room would also enable the service to invest in new technology.

John Drake, the Regional Secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Once it failed, the merger of Devon and Somerset control rooms was always going to be on the cards.

"Any potential changes have the potential to go wrong, we've seen that with the regional fire control centre.

"It's our job to ensure the safety of not only firefighters and the communities, but also that our members' jobs in the two control centres are maintained."

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