Failed fire control rooms plan 'costs £500m'
20 September 2011
Posted by Samuel Couratin
Plans to establish central control centres for the fire service have been abandoned at a total cost of £500 million.
Trials were run under the Labour Government to test whether the changes to existing structures would improve the system, but were cancelled by the Coalition.
However, a committee of MPs has concluded that the reorganization plans were put into effect without enough consultation taking place.
In a report on the FiReControl project, the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) heavily criticized the execution of it.
Representations were received by the committee by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Fire and Rescue Service as part of the investigation into the restructuring.
According to the Chair of the body, Margaret Hodge, the proposed abolition of 46 local fire and rescue control rooms across the UK in favour of nine regional centres "ended in complete failure".
She explained that the abandoned plans had cost the public purse almost £500 million, with eight of the regional control centres remaining empty, with local support for the scheme from the Fire and Rescue Services not gained by the Government.
"The project was rushed, without proper understanding of costs or risks," Ms Hodge declared, adding that the project had been managed weakly and with too much emphasis on external consultants, while a computer system to support the reorganization was never awarded.
"No one has been held to account for this project failure, one of the worst we have seen for many years," she added, pointing out that it will cost an additional £84.8 million to ensure that the fire service can respond in a coordinated manner to national incidents.
Launched in 2004, FiReControl was intended to improve the resilience, efficiency and technological capacity of the emergency service, but was scrapped in December 2010 having achieved none of its original goals.
The National Audit Office reported earlier this year that the project "had been a comprehensive failure".