East and West Sussex fire services will merge control rooms

Plans for a joint command centre for both of Sussex’s fire and rescue services have been given the green light.

East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services will merge their existing control rooms into a single fire Sussex Control Centre, it was revealed yesterday (Tuesday, December 6).

The new combined centre could begin taking 999 calls in September 2013.

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The announcement follows a successful bid by both services for £3.6 million funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

It also comes after fire minister Bob Neill’s decision last December to axe 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.

The two counties’ services had to explore options that would combine operational benefits with financial savings for the public.

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.”

Possible venues for the new command base – which could be in Chichester – will now be explored further.

“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,” he added.

John Livings, chairman of East Sussex Fire Authority, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “The funding from the DCLG will not only help create a more advanced Sussex Control Centre but will ensure we are able to take the opportunity to deliver improvements in attendance times, the provision of information to the incident and improve co-ordination of operational resources.”