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Fire Services: Manpower

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of the reduction in fire control centre staff by 112 in the South West on performance standards in Fire and Rescue Services in the area in Gloucestershire. (200062)

The most recent strength figure (March 2007) for staff employed in the South West Fire and Rescue Authorities is 179.69. The number of staff employed by each Fire and Rescue Authority including those in the South West is a matter for them and consequently the total figure fluctuates around this mark. Likewise, the number of staff employed by the Regional Control Centre in Taunton is a matter for them.

The South West Regional Control Centre will ensure that the South West region, including Gloucestershire, has a fully resilient Regional Control Centre that is part of a fully networked national system. This network will provide a first class, resilient control service, whereby each Regional Control Centre will provide support to each other, in the event that one or more Regional Control Centres becomes unavailable.

The performance standards that each Regional Control Centre will meet are presently under discussion but will not be less than those currently achieved. In addition service delivery and firefighter safety will be enhanced through bringing all controls up to the standard of the highest currently in use.

Every Regional Control Centre will be able to mobilise any Fire and Rescue unit anywhere in England, which is currently not possible. This new network and the associated Firelink communications project will deliver a more efficient and resilient control service.

Decisions about exact staffing levels will be a matter for the South West Fire Control Service Ltd. to decide. The Fire and Rescue Authorities included in this company are; Avon, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Isles of Scilly and Wiltshire.