A shared service linking Staffordshire and West Midlands fire services’ response systems has gone live.
This is the first phase in a long-standing project to merge the two forces – a move which fire chiefs say will save taxpayers £500,000 and speed up response times.
West Midlands and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Services are to merge their command centres, reverting to a single base at the West Midlands’ headquarters on Vauxhall Road in Birmingham in spring next year.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is now using the Vision system, which was already running in the West Midlands, to record and monitor incidents and mobilise crews. Staffordshire Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford says the new technology could speed up emergency response times.
“One advantage of the new technology is the tracking of fire engines and firefighters’ vehicles,” said Mr Dartford. “Therefore when a call comes in, the nearest appliance will be sent to it. This cuts both response times and fuel costs.”
Support for the new system has been echoed by chairman of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority Len Bloomer, who says the new technology is more efficient and will make the service more resilient when the centres merge.
“The technology is more efficient than the system that we previously used in Staffordshire and enables seamless mobilisation and management of both Fire and Rescue Authorities,” said Mr Bloomer.
The shared service was announced in 2011 and received £3.6 million from an £81 million Government fund set up to help Fire and Rescue Services in England.
Under the shake up, the existing 101 posts across the two centres will be reduced by 25 roles to 76. Staffing numbers will then be reviewed after 12 months.