Welsh Assembly networks fire and rescue control rooms for £2m

The Welsh government has joined up its fire and rescue control rooms using a £2m grant.

The Welsh government has joined up its fire and rescue control rooms using a £2m grant.

The fire and rescue control centres have been networked to provide mutual support in dealing with large emergencies and in the event of system failure in St Asaph, Carmarthen and Llantrisant. The main technology partner was Fortek, a specialist in command and control systems.

The project began in late 2009 and involved upgrading all computer and communication systems used to process emergency 999 calls at the three fire service control rooms.

Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant, said: "Linking the fire and rescue control centres across Wales is a welcome step in the right direction. It will significantly improve their ability to offer a first class emergency service to the Welsh public.

"I am proud to say that this project is a first for the UK and has attracted a good deal of interest from fire services across England and Scotland."

At the end of last year the government canned the FireControl project, which aimed to reduce the number of fire service control rooms from 46 across England to nine regional centres.

A spokesman from the Fire Brigade's Union said the success of the Welsh control room network highlights the failures of the shelved English IT project.

"The Welsh government has networked its control rooms to provide automatic support for a cost of £2m, while the English government wasted £500m failing to network its control rooms. We always said there was a more simple way of doing things and this proves it. Wales has delivered something which works from an establish supplier, Fortek, compared to the English government who decided to use a supplier with no record."

Work is under way to house all blue-light emergency services in shared control rooms in Wales. "Joining together the fire, police and ambulance services is the way forward. By working together we can provide the first class public services that communities across Wales deserve," said Carl Sargeant.

Assistant chief fire officer Colin Hanks, who led the project for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The delivery of this all-Wales resilience project is a significant step towards collaborative working that will undoubtedly benefit all of our communities.

"As well as our work with local partners North Wales Police in the Joint Communications Centre, we have now linked up with our colleagues in Mid and West Wales and South Wales to provide a seamless system of mutual support that means we are leading the way in the UK in terms of collaborative working."

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