Headlines: October 30th, 2006



The Government has set out the business case for the planned FiReControl Project, part of its major investment in the Fire and Rescue Service, including the the roll-out of New Dimension assets and training, better communications through the new FireLink digital radio network and a common procurement service.

The document, produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government, says the project will create a resilient and integrated system of networked control centres, which will be better able to handle the pressure of increased levels of calls from a larger incident and will allow one centre to back up another if it should fail. At the moment fire and rescue authorities in England run 46 separate control rooms each of which uses different technologies and operational procedures.

The Department believes there is a stark gap between the most advanced control rooms and the rest. Each stands alone and cannot readily step-in at times of high demand or failure. Nine networked regional control centres will, the business case states, be able to deploy crews more effectively to incidents and will be capable of providing information direct to cabs of firefighting vehicles. This will include details of how to get to the scene of an incident, floor plans and hazards, water supplies and even how to dismantle various types of cars.

DCLG says the publication of the document fulfils a Government commitment and is part of the process of engaging more closely with the Fire and Rescue Services, local government and the employees’ and officers’ associations to explain fully how the project will be delivered.

Other benefits the project is expected to bring include technology to ensure that the precise location of a person telephoning for help will be identified automatically, satellite positioning equipment to tell control centre computers which fire appliances are closest to the incident in terms of travel time, and with the correct equipment, and technology that will enable staff to mobilise the nearest available appliances using data-transmission rather than voice messages.

The regional control centres are also expected to provide value for money and achieve savings which fire and rescue authorities can reinvest locally to improve services.