Fire chief's joy as control room to stay in Shropshire
It has been based in Shrewsbury for decades – and today a pledge was made that Shropshire's fire control centre will at least stay in the county.
Shropshire Fire Service chief fire officer John Redmond today spoke of his delight at the decision. There will now be a further review to decide where the control room should be – either at its existing site in Shrewsbury or at a location elsewhere in the county.
The fire emergency call centre was first based alongside the police HQ in Swan Hill, Shrewsbury, before moving to St Michael's Street, in the town's Ditherington.
However, the 1970s fire control base was replaced in 2011 with a £2 million state-of-the-art facility which can give the precise location of an incident, including a detailed map sent to the nearest fire appliance, even if it is on the move.
In July, it had been suggested that the control room, could join with West Mercia Police, Warwickshire Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.
Andy Johnson, assistant chief fire officer for Shropshire said if the money-saving collaboration went ahead the new joint control centre could be moved outside of Shropshire.
But following a consultation it has now been decided that the 999 centre will remain within Shropshire.
Mr Redmond said: "There is now going to be a fire control in the boundaries of Shropshire. I am delighted about this. We are going to look at maximising the use of fire control in the future. We are currently carrying out a review using suggestions from staff.
"We have been through a very long consultation period with staff, members of the public and government, and there are a number of suggestions.
"We are going to build them on to the review for the benefit of the community."
It had been feared that half of the 16 fire control room staff based at the Shrewsbury headquarters would lose their jobs – reducing the fire service's annual staffing costs by up to £300,000.
The review of the Shrewsbury centre followed a pattern elsewhere in the Midlands where emergency services were joining forces to save money.
West Mercia Police announced last year that its Shrewsbury control room would close in March 2015, with calls being taken at its base in Worcestershire. And West Midlands and Staffordshire fire services have already joined forces. Their joint control room opened last week in Birmingham.
As part of the consultation, shift patterns within Shropshire Fire Service will also be reviewed. Currently staff work two days of 9am to 6pm and two days of 6pm to 9am with four days off. Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service needs to save £1.7m from its £20m budget. The consultation was part of a process to see how the service can make savings.
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said today he was "delighted" with the decision to keep the control centre in the county.
Last night he tweeted:
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