East and West Fire & Rescue Services are both delighted to announce that Haywards Heath Fire Station has been confirmed as the location for the new Sussex Control Centre.*
Today’s announcement follows the decision taken last December by both Services to merge their existing control rooms into a single Sussex Control Centre (subject to final agreement on apportionment and future funding) that would begin taking 999 calls in September 2013. The move followed a successful bid by both services for £3.6 million funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government.
Representatives from both ESFRS and WSFRS immediately began work to identify suitable premises for the new Sussex Control Centre, with the preferred location being somewhere along the ‘A23 corridor’. Last month ESFRS and WSFRS provisionally agreed to recommend Haywards Heath Fire Station as the most suitable location for the new Sussex Control Centre and, having fully considered the details of the proposal, East Sussex Fire Authority (ESFA) and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) have today ratified the decision.
ESFA and WSCC also agreed today that East Sussex Fire Authority will become the lead employer for the Sussex Control Centre. The target date for this to take effect is July 1st. A joint Officer-led Board will be created to manage the Sussex Control Centre, reporting directly to both the ESFRS Corporate Management Team and the WSFRS Principal Leadership Team.
It has also been decided that the procurement of the mobilising system, which supports the needs of a busy and modern fire and rescue service and is critical to capacity and resilience, needs to be integrated within ESFRS’s and WSFRS’s existing ICT platforms. This will also help to drive further savings. It has therefore been agreed that the procurement route for this acquisition will be via a restricted procedures route using the Official Journal of European Union to advertise our requirements.
John Livings, the East Sussex Fire Authority Chairman, said:
““The move towards a single control room for Sussex has arisen due to our shared desire to deliver the best possible fire and rescue services to the communities of Sussex, as well as the need to reduce costs in public spending. The new Sussex Control Centre provides an opportunity to deliver improvements in attendance times, the provision of information to the incident and improve the co-ordination of operational resources across the two Services.
“This has been an uncertain time for the control staff and we appreciate their continued professionalism. We believe today’s decisions mark a key milestone at which both Services can now work together, with a confirmed location and lead employer, to make the Sussex Control Centre a successful reality next year.”
Christine Field, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said:
“I’m pleased Haywards Heath Fire Station will be the venue for the new Sussex Control Centre. The town is geographically central to both East and West Sussex and its location creates equal opportunity for staff in the two existing control rooms to consider relocating to the Sussex Control Centre. This will help to retain the valuable skills and control experience in both Services and, in addition, maintain local knowledge from across both counties – something that was important to the public during consultation.
“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.”
In addition to its central location and proximity to Haywards Heath Railway Station, the fire station offers a number of advantages that will assist the successful delivery of the Sussex Control Centre project:
- Haywards Heath Fire Station offers modern accommodation that can be readily adapted to suit the needs of the Sussex Control Centre and includes several ‘green’ features like solar panels and lower energy emissions.
- Using an existing fire service building keeps accommodation costs lower and will save on lease agreements and rates.
- Converting an existing building will be quicker and easier (in planning terms) than converting an external commercial premise, and will help completion of the project within an acceptable time frame.
* The democratic process at WSCC means the decision remains subject to a ‘call-in’ challenge period of eight days.