Fire crews want new 999 system scrapped

FRONTLINE fire crews in the East of England have called for the Government's plans to create a new 999 call system to be scrapped.Firefighters said the £1billion the Government is spending on the system would be better spent on more frontline personnel, training and equipment.

FRONTLINE fire crews in the East of England have called for the Government's plans to create a new 999 call system to be scrapped.

Firefighters said the £1billion the Government is spending on the system would be better spent on more frontline personnel, training and equipment.

They said the new system would put firefighters' safety at risk and worsen their response to incidents.

Under the shake-up, the 999 emergency fire control rooms in Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire would be closed. They would be replaced with a single centre based at Cambridge Research Park, covering the whole region.

The Government expects the regional control room to be fully operational by September 2011 and the cost of the rent will be £50million over 25 years.

In a nationwide poll of FBU members by YouGov, 94 per cent of firefighters in the region said the proposed regional centre would damage the service's ability to respond to incidents and 91pc said it would hit the safety of firefighters.

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FBU regional secretary Graham Noakes said: “East of England fire crews have almost no confidence in the government's ability to deliver this new system and think it should be scrapped. This project is being forced down the throat of local fire services by a central government.

“Frontline crews want to see the £1billion being wasted on this project being invested in more frontline fire services, better equipment and training.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “The Government's first duty is to protect the public and doing nothing is not an option.

“Our £160 million investment will create a more resilient and integrated national network of nine regional control rooms which will be better equipped to deal with major incidents.”

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