New £5.4m fire control centre for three counties operational

A new £5.4m fire control centre covering three counties has gone live.

All 999 fire calls in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire will be dealt with by Thames Valley Fire Control Service (TVFCS) from Reading.

It replaces individual control rooms in the three counties and will save £1m a year, Oxfordshire County Council said.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said 40 jobs had been lost in the merger and the move was about "cutting costs".

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FBU southern region chairman Steve Allen said the union would review the service in the coming months.

He said: "This is all to do with cutting costs in public sector services.

"We are in the business of managing risk and we have done that really well over the years, now the management of risk is tainted with economic necessity."

Oxfordshire's deputy chief fire officer Nathan Travis told the BBC the joint control room would make the service more "efficient".

Equipped with the latest technology, operators can pinpoint exact geographical locations of callers and despatch the nearest fire engine.

All appliances have been kitted with in-vehicle computers, which show the location of that incident in real-time and any hazards at the site.

A non-staffed control room will be retained at Kidlington as a back-up service.

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