Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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New FireControl Centres essential - Fire Minister Sadiq Khan

New FireControl Centres essential - Fire Minister Sadiq Khan

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (287) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 26 November 2008

The national case for the new linked network of control centres for the Fire and Rescue Service was today laid out by the Government.

The Government remains committed to paying the set up costs of £380million before giving the new network to England's Fire and Rescue Authorities.

Fire Minister Sadiq Khan said in a Written Statement to Parliament announcing the publication of the Business Case:

"The Government is investing £380m in FireControl and remains strongly committed to it. Good progress has been made on a number of fronts, including the completion of eight new highly resilient Regional Control Centre buildings, the establishment of eight Local Authority Controlled Companies which bring together all relevant local partners, and the development of a strong network of regional project teams working to ensure the project is a success in their areas."

Sadiq Khan also said:

"Major emergencies in recent years have shown us the very real challenges we face in today's world. FireControl will give all Fire and Rescue Services access to systems and technology that only a few currently benefit from. It will result in greater resilience and collaboration, better information and incident support for firefighters, and a better service to the public - both day to day and during major incidents."

Highlights in the national business case include:

* the completion of all three major national procurements

* overall savings of £8million per year nationally once the network is fully operational

* eight of the nine RCC buildings have achieved practical completion and work to fit them out with the new IT infrastructure has started. The ninth is on schedule

* all eight Local Authority Controlled Companies (LACCs) have been established. London is already established as LFEPA is a single authority

The Government is also committed to making payments to FRS for net additional costs they incur directly as a result of helping to set up the new network. Of the £380million, £42million has been paid to Fire and Rescue Authorities to support local and regional delivery costs and a further £66million has been allocated for the next two financial years, 2009/10 and 2010/11. The Government is also committed to making a resilience payment of £5.6million per year, to ensure no region is worse off under FireControl.

Following initial discussions with representatives of England's Fire and Rescue Services, as well as the main contractor and the Firelink radio communications project, the Department has also published a revised timetable for the change over to the new network.

Sadiq Khan also said:

"I am determined that we build stakeholders' trust and confidence as we move forward. I am grateful to all of our partners for their commitment and for working so closely with each other and with us to make this project a success."

Planning indicates that the first three to be up and running will be North East, East Midlands and South West with changeover starting in summer 2010. The full national network of nine will be operational from spring 2012, but we will only have certainty once earlier stages are completed.

Notes to Editors

1. For Fire Minister's statement on the National Business Case and new schedule please see http :// to Ministerial statements and speeches

2. The document published today is part 2 (The National Case) of the 2008 Fire Control Business Case (please see Part 1 (the Regional Case) was published on 8 July 2008. An updated version is expected during 2009.

3. The Firelink radio infrastructure installation schedule has been revised alongside the FireControl schedule.

4. The FireControl national network is part of the Government's £1billion investment in the Fire and Rescue Service and includes the digital radio communications system Firelink, and the New Dimension specialist equipment for high volume pumping, detecting and identifying unknown substances, and urban search and rescue equipment for use in collapsed structures.

5. The three major FireControl procurements completed since the last full case are: facilities management; security and London RCC accommodation.

The new Firecontrol network

6. All nine RCC locations and designs were selected to meet resilience criteria as well as being on good transport routes. The buildings also meet environmental sustainability requirements. The nine RCC buildings are designed for purpose and built to a high standard and specification. They are designed to meet standards for reducing vulnerability to terrorism and other threats, and are very secure buildings for control centre staff to work in. In the event of an interruption to external mains services, such as power or water, the building is designed to continue functioning for 7 days.

7. The nine, purpose-built Regional Control Centres will be fully-networked and all control operators will have modern equipment, use the same technology and be able to work together and back each other up at busy times. The new systems will provide control room operators with technology which will help them do their job more effectively, including information on the nearest and most appropriate resources to any incident.

8. When a member of the public makes a call, the caller's location (from a mobile or land telephone) will be identified automatically. The control centre computer systems will help the RCC staff to locate and mobilise appropriate resources instantly. In the event of a large scale emergency the calls can be shared across the network, instead of just a single control room trying to cope.

9. FireControl will also provide important benefits to firefighters, improving their safety and making them better equipped to protect the public. In future all will have access to consistent and timely information through the provision of on-board computers in their cabs. This will provide firefighters with satellite navigation technology and access to vital information such as:

* floor plans to buildings and details of known risks and hazards

* information about safe handling of chemicals and motor vehicle design

* the location of the nearest hydrants and water supplies.

10. The new system will give all FRS access to systems and technology that only a few currently benefit from (Regional Business Case published 8 July 2008): It will replace 46 standalone control rooms that are unable to automatically back each other up and operate disparate systems.

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