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London Fire Brigade goes live with GPS 999 call system

After a year of delays, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) goes live with a mobilisation system from Capita – which uses GPS tracking for quicker response times

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has gone live with a mobilising system from Capita, which will allow for a more streamlined call-handling processes.

Under the £19.6m, 10-year contract, the system allows the fire brigade to determine the location of mobile phone 999 calls and direct fire engines to emergencies based on their proximity to the incident.

Previously fire engines were sent from the closest fire station, rather than the location of the appliance.

Using GPS tracking and real-time status information, control officers can track the fire engines at any time.

London fire commissioner Rob Dobson said the system was state-of-the-art and “uses the latest technology to allow us to deal with emergency calls get fire engines to incidents more quickly”.

The LFB was originally due to go live with the system in July 2014, but was delayed due to a failure in the “factory acceptance testing” in January 2014, according to a September project update report.

The LFB set another go-live date of July 2015 but, in May, “officers became increasingly concerned that Capita did not appear to be on track to deliver to these revised timescales”, it said. 

“Capita reviewed their position and confirmed there would be further delays but the system would be ready for operational use before the end of September 2015.”

The delays caused an additional cost of £1.11m, but the LFB received £500,000 in delay payments from Capita, and saved a large chunk of money on not mobilising the system until now – resulting in a net surplus of £130,000, according to the report.

The system replaces the Motorola mobilising system. The decision to replace the previous system was taken after the failed £469m FireControl programme, which aimed to reduce the number of fire service control rooms across the UK from 46 to nine.

The FireControl programme – which began in 2004 – was axed by the government in 2010, after several years of delays and spiralling costs.

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