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Fire service technology reform

James Rogers
Following the disruption of the recent firefighters' pay dispute, the government has promised greater use of IT as part of its ambitious plans to reform the fire service in England and Wales.

A white paper released by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last week proposed placing a greater emphasis on technology within the new fire and rescue service.

Precise details of how IT will be used have yet to be announced but a spokesman for the ODPM said technology will be key in areas such as risk management and the collation of statistics.

"Technology will play a major part in integrated risk management - a new IT system to help make best use of resources," he said. "The other area is in the electronic reporting of statistics."

Firefighters have given a cautious welcome to the government's plan to boost the use of technology within the service. Mick Shergold, London regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said, "I am keen to see systems in place that will enhance service delivery but I don't want to see people bogged down, continuously working on computers. That is not what the fire service is about."

The FBU is currently considering the white paper and said it will be making an official response to deputy prime minister John Prescott in the near future.

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