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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August, 2005, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Fire jobs 'at risk' in shake-up
Fire control centre
The Exeter centre will close in three or four years
Twenty-six jobs at the Devon fire control centre in Exeter are under threat following a decision to base a new central control room in Somerset.

The new base at Taunton will cover seven South West counties including Devon and Cornwall.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said response times will increase as local knowledge will be lost.

The government has rejected the claim and said central control rooms are vital for major emergencies.

People's lives are at risk
Linda Schrimpff

The existing control centre at Exeter will continue to operate until the functions switch to the new regional control centre in three or four years' time.

Control room worker Linda Schrimpff said: "Some of the staff may choose to go to Taunton because it's within commuting distance.

"But the problem isn't just the location, it's about the conditions of service in the new control room.

"People feel quite strongly that the public safety aspect will be compromised.

"The control room is going to run with 10 staff dealing with seven counties. At the moment we have a minimum of 25 staff dealing with those seven counties. Ultimately, people's lives are at risk."

Fire minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "There is a compelling need to modernise and rationalise the control rooms in England.

"London's experience on the 7 July showed that only a regional control centre can deal effectively with an event of that scale.

"While existing control rooms do a good job, they are not designed to deal in a co-ordinated way with major regional or national incidents - they need improvement and investment."





SEE ALSO:
Fire control centre for Taunton
10 Aug 05 |  Somerset


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