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News : Shropshire Emergency Call Centre Could Merge
Shropshire, UK, July 22, 2013 -- A county fire chief has set out the "most likely" way its 999 control room could join with those of neighbouring police and fire services.
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service could merge its emergency call centre with those of West Mercia Police, Warwickshire Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.
This was "more likely" to be the form any merger would take, Andy Johnson, assistant chief fire officer for Shropshire told Shrewsbury Town Council last night.
If the money-saving collaboration, currently being consulted on, went ahead the new joint control centre could be moved outside of Shropshire.
And half of the 16 fire control room staff based at the Shrewsbury head quarters would lose their jobs - reducing the fire service's annual staffing costs.
Mr Johnson told councillors: "West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police are looking at collaborating their control systems and as part of that they have asked if we want to come into that.
"In my professional opinion I would say that Hereford and Worcester are most likely to go with West Mercia, so we either go in with that wider project or we don't.
"It's up to us to decide if we do want to collaborate with another authority and if we do it's more likely to be with West Mercia Police, Warwickshire Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service."
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service needs to save money from its budget and has launched a public consultation into how the cuts are made.
The merger proposal would see Shropshire's control room close between 2015 and 2020.
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.
The two police forces said they were in discussions with fire services for Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire to "develop a contact management and command and control facility to allow more effective working as part of the wider blue light family".
It is not yet known where the joint control centre would be but West Mercia's Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Barrie Sheldon, has previously said the force's headquarters at Hindlip, near Worcester, would be a favoured location.
Mr Johnson told Shrewsbury Town Council a detailed impact assessment on the possibility of a merger flagged up four main concerns which the fire authority would need to be assured would not impact on its service.
"One is local knowledge and two is inevitably covering a larger area. If you put these things together it makes local knowledge it even more imperative," he said.
"But the way you overcome these issues is with IT. There are systems which mean that when someone calls 999 the operator can see where they are on the screen.
"The third is IT resilience so it's great when IT works but the fire authority would need to be assured that any failures would not have a detrimental impact on the service.
"And the fourth is staff - we could be looking at staff redundancies."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Today's Tip of the Day - Back To The Basics
More Editorial From Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service
About Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service:
The Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service covering Shropshire, including Telford and Wrekin, in the West Midlands region of England.
About West Mercia Police:
West Mercia Police, formerly known as West Mercia Constabulary, is the territorial police force responsible for policing the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire in England.
Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014