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Fire Services: Vehicles

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the technology with which enhanced command support vehicles supplied by his Department to fire and rescue authorities are equipped; what recent work has been undertaken on the vehicles; and if he will make a statement. (307182)

The enhanced command support (ECS) vehicles provide a multi-technology communication platform to support the co-ordination of large, complex deployments of fire and rescue service (FRS) resources. Capabilities include connectivity with other FRSs, emergency service resources and control rooms through radio, mobile phones and land lines. This capability is available for operational use if needed and has already been used to good effect, most recently during last month's floods in Cumbria.

Minor technical issues have been encountered with the satellite communications capability which provides a basic level of communications in the event of an unlikely, but serious and protracted, disruption of other communications systems. We are reasonably confident that these can be resolved and hope to be in a position to deploy the full capability to the FRS by March 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many enhanced command support vehicles have been supplied by his Department to fire and rescue authorities in the last 12 months; what the total purchase cost of those vehicles was; at how many incidents they have been used; and where each is currently located. (307193)

The Department has procured nine enhanced control vehicles for use by the fire and rescue service, as part of its new dimension project to provide enhanced response capability to the fire and rescue service. The total purchase cost of these vehicles was £1,459,500. Although the vehicles are not yet fully operational or permanently located with individual FRSs, they have been used to good effect in three incidents and exercises, most recently during last month's floods in Cumbria.