On Monday 20th December the Westminster Fire Minister issued a written Ministerial Statement to the House of Commons which terminated, with immediate effect, the contract with Cassidian (formerly EADS) to deliver the FiReControl Project.
For the past seven years our members in Emergency Fire Controls across the Services in England have had to live with uncertainty and Governmental incompetence as the project has stumbled on from one crisis to another. The FBU were the only voice within the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) that consistently opposed the regionalisation of our Fire Controls: not for self-serving reasons, but because we saw no evidence to suggest that this was going to improve in any way such a vital aspect of our emergency response. It was apparent from the early stages that the project was flawed, in that it was neither going to provide a better service for the public or Firefighters, nor was it going to make the savings anticipated.
Despite the Westminster Government constantly moving the goalposts by altering the reasons for wishing to regionalise Emergency Fire Controls, it became clear early on that, whatever concessions were made to the contractors or whatever taxpayers money was ploughed in, the project was doomed to failure. The only regret the FBU have is that it is a shame that not more stakeholders within the FRS were willing to stand with the FBU and say what most people were thinking.
The FBU has once again proved that it is the only professional organisation within the FRS that can be depended upon to protect it from those who wish to destroy it.
However, with this scrapping of the project comes other fights. The Government has indicated that Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRA’s) will now need to review their Control arrangements and that the Government does not intend to impose any solution for the future of Control Room services. This could mean that FRA’s will be looking at other ways of providing their control function. However, the FBU will be ready, once again, to defend our members in Fire Controls across the UK.
In the meantime I would like to congratulate all those members and officials who have campaigned so vigorously for a cause we knew, was right. It is an important victory for the FBU and one we will need to carry forward as we face attacks from the Government on every other front