Fire Bosses Defend Control Centre Plans

Fire service 999 calls made in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire could soon be answered up to 60 miles away in Huntingdon.

Talks are underway to merge Buckinghamshire Fire Service's control room with that for Cambridgeshire, which has for the last three months also been taking 999 calls made to the fire brigade in Suffolk.

Bosses say integrating the control rooms of all three forces will enable them to invest in more high-tech equipment, and ultimately provide a better service to the public.

Cambridgeshire's Assistant Chief Fire Officer Neil Newbury said "With three services, it gives us more financial clout.  We can look at how we can invest and improve this control in future so we can maintain a first class up to date control.  As a single service we wouldn't be able to do that."

He says arguments about geography - that call-takers will not have sufficient local knowledge to answer calls from another distant part of the country - don't wash.

"The technology is there, everybody relies more and more on technology, as do we.  The technology is there to assist operators."

Decisions on whether to merge Buckinghamshire Fire's control room with Cambridgeshire are due to be made from February 2012.