Huntingdon’s merged fire control room delights fire chiefs

IT covers thousands of miles, has received thousands of calls and is set to save thousands of pounds – no wonder it’s delighted fire chiefs.

For almost three months the UK’s first combined fire control centre in Huntingdon has handled 999 calls for 63 stations across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

Key figures from both counties met at the Hinchingbrooke HQ on Monday (January 16) to celebrate the initiative they have hailed a “roaring success”.

Andy Fry, chief fire officer for Suffolk, said: “This merger shows what can be achieved.

“The technology available helps support our excellent control room staff. It allows us to think on a larger scale too. Much better technology combined with professional expertise provides a much better service.

“Response times are better and increasingly improving. If you use technology that’s tried and tested, I believe you can manage incidents that are a long way away from the control room.”

Since October 25 last year, control operators based in Huntingdon started answering calls and mobilising Suffolk’s fire engines. A number of jobs were lost in Suffolk, among staff who chose not to move to Huntingdon.

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However, six operators switched counties to join the combined team of 32 in a deal which looks set to save both fire authorities about �400,000 a year.

Neil Newberry, assistant chief fire officer for Cambridgeshire, said: “So far it’s been a roaring success.

“There have been issues to address and we’re hoping to make future improvements too. We’re proud that we’ve given good service together and we’ve got greater access to finances in control.

“There have been some anomalies in the way Suffolk and Cambs operate for the moment and we’ve had to learn the idiosyncrasies. But there’s been nothing major, nothing catastrophic.

“We’re seeing improvements on a week-to-week basis and we’re on track to meet our original targets.”

As previously reported by The Hunts Post, Buckinghamshire could be the next fire service to merge its control room into Huntingdon.