East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services to merge

EAST and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services are to merge their existing control rooms into a single Joint Command Centre that could begin taking 999 calls in September 2013.

This move follows a successful bid by both services for £3.6 million funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

It also follows the Fire Minister Bob Neill’s decision in December of last year to cancel the previous Government’s proposal to merge nine fire control rooms in the south east.

The cancellation led to the region’s fire and rescue services being asked to consider future ways of working for fire controls and to explore options that would combine operational benefits with financial savings for the public.

However, no location has yet been decided for the Joint Command Centre and a search is being undertaken.

Currently East Sussex activities are controlled from Eastbourne, with Chichester serving West Sussex.

Pete Bradbury, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “A single fire control centre in Sussex will have more staff on duty than either of the two current control rooms, as well as save money.

“It will also enhance working with the Police and other agencies during an emergency.

“The success of the funding bid means project work on combining control centres will continue and both our preferred location options – along the A23 corridor or the existing West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service control centre in Chichester – remain viable.

John Livings, Chairman of East Sussex Fire Authority, said: “The funding from the DCLG will not only help create a more advanced Joint Command Centre but will ensure that we are able to take the opportunity to deliver improvements in attendance times, the provision of information to the incident and improve the co-ordination of operational resources across the two services.

“The Fire Authority welcomes the support of the DCLG to fund our joint bid that will assist both services to meet our agreed priorities by September 2013.”