Confidential government plans which aim to replace national fire control centres have been criticised by
Jobs will be slashed under the new proposals, the FBU warns
The Fire Brigades Union has said that proposals for new regional centres will lead to job cuts and put lives
But the government has stressed that the project will replace outdated technology and prove more efficient.
The proposals are part of a leaked government report.
FBU General secretary Andy Gilchrist said: "Our current ability to respond very quickly to fires, traffic accidents, flooding, environmental, chemical, nuclear
and radiological incidents will be badly damaged.
"If such a key part of the fire service collapses into the total failure they say may very well happen, then lives will be lost.
"If the government presses ahead with this folly they will have taken leave of their senses."
According to the FBU, the project will see all 46 fire
control centres in England replaced by nine regional centres.
The union said the number of control room staff across England could be slashed from 1,500 to 600, and called this "dangerous folly".
The leaked report estimates the move could lead to savings of £42.3m over 10 years, the FBU said, equivalent to £90,000 a year for each fire authority.
But the report also says there could be a loss of £107m, costing each authority £200,000 or more a year, the union said.
The FBU also warned that fire authorities would have to contribute to upfront costs for the project of more than £300m.
It said that if authorities bore these costs they would "almost certainly" be forced to make frontline service cuts.
The union also said local emergency calls could be transferred to regions in different parts of the country during busy periods.
But the government has insisted that extracts from the leaked report have been taken out of context and the plans will lead to the replacement of outdated technology.
Fire service minister Nick Raynsford said: "Existing control rooms do a good job, but they are not designed to deal, in a co-ordinated fashion, with major regional or national incidents.
"They operate with a wide range of procedures, technologies and systems - many of which have suffered from an historic lack of investment."
Mr Raynsford also said that the average cost of responding to an incident would be cut from £76 to £52, under the new proposals.