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Fire control room set to be in Berkshire
4:06pm Monday 9th July 2012 in Headlines
OXFORDSHIRE Fire Service’s control room could be run from Berkshire in two years’ time.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire Service and Royal Berkshire Fire Service are proposing the creation of a joint control room to receive 999 calls.
Next Tuesday, the council’s cabinet, and Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, will discuss the proposal to run the control room for both counties from Calcot near Reading.
Only 30 staff will be needed to run the control room, instead of 52 currently operating the control rooms in Kidlington and Tilehurst near Reading.
Calcot has been chosen after being considered the best location.
Oxfordshire chief fire officer Dave Etheridge said: “Neither ourselves or Berkshire would be moving ahead with this proposal if we did not have confidence that it was the right thing to do.
“I have every confidence that a joint control room in Calcot would expertly serve both Royal Berkshire’s and our needs here in Oxfordshire.
“It will be managed by expert fire officers and supervised by councillors from both Oxfordshire and Berkshire.”
According to the county council, the Kidlington facility is in a 1980s extension over a former single-storey fire engine garage, while Calcot is being created as a purpose-built facility.
A statement from the county council said: “The joint control room is expected to save £659,000 per year between the two fire and rescue services, with £229,000 per year of this reinvested in system maintenance.
“Over the 15-year life of the agreement it will save almost £10m and help protect the frontline of the service.
“The key aims are to deliver an enhanced service to the public and firefighters and create an effective and efficient ‘resilient’ system, following the end of the Government’s regional control room proposals.”
County council spokesman Paul Smith said the Kidlington base would be maintained as a ‘non-staffed fall-back option’ after it closed in spring 2014.
Under previous government proposals the Oxfordshire fire control room would have relocated to a regional control room in Hampshire.
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