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31 October 2012, 14:50
Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue have joined in with plans to have emergency fire calls in the Thames Valley answered at one control centre.
The service had decided last September to join up with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, but this afternoon agreed to join the Thames Valley Fire Control Centre (TVFCS) in a move that will save them £780,000 a year.
The centre, which would be based at Berkshire's new headquarters in Calcot, could open by 2014.
Oxfordshire and Berkshire agreed in July 2012 to set up the £3.6 million centre, which will make them a combined saving of £659,000 a year. It's being set up with a grant from the government.
Heart's been told a proportion of the savings will be reinvested in technology to make sure the centre remains state-of-the-art. Operators will be able to pinpoint exactly where a caller is as well as where all the fire vehicles are.
The move has been welcomed by both Oxfordshire and Berkshire;
Olaf Baars, Deputy Chief Fire Officer at RBFRS, said: "The potential for further collaborations with other organisations has always been a key part of the planning for our joint Control function and I am delighted that Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has chosen to join the Thames Valley Fire Control Service.
"I am confident that this prospective new development will lead to an even better, more cost-effective service for the people of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire."
Dave Etheridge, Chief Fire Officer at OFRS, said: "We have always worked closely with our neighbouring fire and rescue services and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's proposal to join us in a shared Control service will support and enhance this even further."
The plans now have to be approved by the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet members.