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Thames Valley Fire Control Service takes over handling emergency calls to Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services

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A new £5.4 million state-of-the-art joint control centre based in Calcot, Reading has started handling emergency calls to Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services.

Serving a combined population of around 2.25 million, the Thames Valley Fire Control Service answers 999 calls and mobilises resources on behalf of the three services to incidents across the Thames Valley.

The new control centre replaces the three individual control rooms, including Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s in Aylesbury. The three individual control rooms were in urgent need of updating.

The Government’s national FiReControl project, which was working towards a single control centre, based in Hampshire, for the nine fire and rescue services in the south east however the FiReControl project was terminated in 2010.

Set up and funded by Government grants it is hoped that the new Thames Valley Fire Control Service will achieve total savings of about £16 million by the end of 2024-25. The new control centre will also deliver increased resilience, efficiency and improved performance.

The new control centre has the latest modern technology including a new mobilising system to enable control operators to identify the exact geographic location of an incident more quickly and, at the same time, pinpoint the precise position of each available fire appliance and officer.

Every fire appliance across the three services has been fitted or upgraded with the latest mobile data terminals which display incidents on a mapping system, enabling fire crews to see their location and that of the incident in real-time.

Mobile data terminals also provide the crews with risk-critical information, such as individual building design and details about any special hazards or unusual processes or manufacturing at a particular location.

A secondary non-staffed control room has been created in Kidlington to ensure resilience. in the unlikely event that the primary control room fails or needs to be evacuated North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will take 999 calls and mobilise resources on behalf of Thames Valley Fire Control Service for the short period of time needed to transfer control staff to Kidlington.

Jason Thelwell, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: ‘I would to place on public record my thanks to our control room staff, who have consistently provided an excellent service to the community in the face of tremendous pressures and changes in recent years.

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