EMERGENCY calls for the fire service in Suffolk are now being taken by operators in Huntingdon.

The planned merger of Cambridgeshire's fire control room with that of the neighbouring service was completed at 8 o'clock last night.

The Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Combined Fire Control began taking calls at midday yesterday (October 25).

A spokesman for the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said this morning that all systems were working smoothly and the new team, based at the Cambridgeshire headquarters in Hinchingbrooke, had taken 50 calls.

Of these, 34 were for Cambridgeshire and 16 for Suffolk.

They included:

- House fire in Hinchcliffe, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough.

- Bush fire in Water Back Lane, off Admirals Drive in Wisbech.

- Rubbish on fire at land at the rear of High Street, Ramsey.

- Car fire on Green Drove in Thorney, and in

- Man with hand trapped in straw dispenser at McDonalds in Hening Avenue, Ipswich.

- Road traffic collision on Southwell Lane in Sotterley

It is estimated that the merger will save each service in the region of £400,000 and bosses say it will offer a more resilient, cost effective, tried and tested mobilising system to the communities of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

Neil Newberry, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and

Rescue Service said: "We don't expect that anyone dialling 999 will notice a difference to the way that their emergency calls are being taken.

"The Combined Fire Control also gives us the opportunity to work together in the future and further improve the service we offer to those in both counties."

Mark Sanderson, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue

Service said: "We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the hard work and loyalty that all control operators have shown.

"We recognise that it's been a difficult time for staff over the last few years, with changes brought about by the Regional Control Centre project and also the Combined Control project and we pay tribute to their hard work and dedication.

"In order to make the project a success, a great deal of work has taken place, not only in fire control, but also behind the scenes.

"As much as possible we have tried to harmonise the way that both services respond to incidents that we deliver a consistent service.

"This includes everything from the number of fire engines we send to an incident, to the way that firefighters communicate with fire control during an incident.

"The project has been possible due to the very close partnership between Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Two services working together using tried and tested modern technology to create a better service for all."