Fire service merger will start in March

The first phase of the £3.6 million merger of West Midlands and Staffordshire Fire Service control rooms will take place in the spring, it has been revealed.

Staffordshire Fire Services’ control centre will “plug in” to the West Midlands’ system in March in preparation for the full amalgamation, which will take place in March 2014.

Both services currently have their own control rooms to direct fire crews to the scenes of emergencies.

But it is expected that savings could be made by merging the two centres to take 999 calls and dispatch crews throughout the wider region.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue service will ditch their older control system in March and will then start using the West Midlands’ state-of-the art system, which is called Vision.

It is hoped it will enable them to seamlessly mobilise and manage effectively both fire and rescue authorities resources from the one system.

West Midlands Fire Service Authority Chairman John Edwards said: “This is the first stage of the amalgamation, and it is an interim measure, where they will plug in to our system.

The final solution, where the two control centres merge, will take place in in 2014.

“We are still in discussions about the staffing of the control centre, and the number of employees who will be based here. There is still movement on how all this could work.

“But this first stage of the collaboration is all set to go ahead in March.”

Mr Edwards said since the announcement of the merger the two authorities have been working together so they can both share data, understand the risks of working across the two areas and improve community and fire-fighter safety.

When the two control centres merge in 2014, the control centre will be based at West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service headquarters in Vauxhall Road in Birmingham.

Both services made a joint bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government last year to fund the merger, which has been carried out by other fire services across the country.

The £3.6m grant for work was approved on March 1.