Scrapping of regional ‘super centre’ for 999 calls has no ‘operational implications’

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FIRE chiefs in South Yorkshire have expressed their confidence in the county’s control room staff who handle 999 calls - after plans for a regional centre were scrapped.

The last Labour Government wanted a network of nine regional centres to replace the 46 individual centres run by each fire service in the country, but technical problems and mounting costs meant the scheme was scrapped when the new coalition Government took office last year.

South Yorkshire’s control room staff were due to move to a new super centre in Wakefield to join a team of call handlers.

Now, with the regional centres scrapped, South Yorkshire bosses have prepared a report on the fiasco in which they state that existing systems already in place in South Yorkshire are “effective”.

The report, prepared by Chief Fire Officer Mark Smitherman, says: “Although the regional control centre project has been formally closed down existing South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue facilities continue to provide effective call handling and mobilisation arrangements within South Yorkshire on a short and long term basis.

“There are no operational implications to emergency appliance mobilising by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue control as it has a new state-of-the-art mobilising system which is acknowledged as one of the best in the country.

“The loss of resilience that the regional centres may have provided during times of spate conditions or national emergency will now be a matter for discussion and resolution for senior managers within South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and the region.

“Existing control facilities are robust and will adequately meet the needs of the service during the foreseeable future.

He added of the controversial super centre: “The formal termination of the project at a national level has alleviated the related industrial relations issues.”