England

Fire services combine 999 calls

Four fire services have been given £7.2m by the government to work together to handle 999 calls.

Fire and rescue services in Humberside, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire and Norfolk will link their control centres together.

Each service will retain its control centre, but if operators are busy in one the call will re-route to another centre in the chain.

The Fire Brigades Union said it would oppose any redundancies.

Humberside Fire Service said it would lead to "quicker response times".

'Improved technology'

The money is from a pot of £81m provided by central government to try and improve efficiency in the handling of emergency calls following the scrapping of the FiReControl project.

FiReControl aimed to replace 46 individual control centres with nine regional ones, but was cancelled by the government in December 2010.

Phil Jackson from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said: "Improved technology would link control rooms in Lincolnshire, Humberside, Hertfordshire and Norfolk together to offer the four areas an even better, more resilient service, leading to quicker response times."

The four fire and rescue services are expecting to make capital savings of £1.5m over the life of the project, in addition to other yearly cost savings.

Gary Mitchell, from the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Our stance is we support any progress on developing communications within in the fire service.

"But we are opposed on any redundancies as a result."

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