What is the future for fire control in England?

The cancellation of the FiReControl project means fire and rescue services (FRS) must find an alternative command and control system. Wireless hosted a round table of experts to find out what comes next

The panle of experts for the fire control round table


Expert Panel:

                      David Todd, CEO, 3tc Software Ltd

                      Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Shadow transport minister
                      Euros Evans, CTO, Airwave

                      Phil Toase, Non-executive director of 3tc Software Ltd and former CFO of West
                      Yorkshire FRS

                      Olaf Baars, DCFO, Royal Berkshire FRS

                      Dave Webb, CFO/CEO, Leicestershire FRS and CFOA lead on FireLink

                      Damian Parkinson, Head of ICT, Greater Manchester FRS and chair
                      of ICT Management Group CFOA

                      Richard Moore, Station manager, M&CC, East Sussex FRS

                      Ian Wakeling, Programme integration director for Fire & Resilience Programme,
                      Dept. for Communities and Local Government

                      Richard Bobbett, CEO, Airwave

                      Chair: David Nunn, Content director, Wireless

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) secretary of state Eric Pickles’ says he is confident about the state of the fire service. What do you have to add?

Dave Webb: The starting point for me is: we don’t think we know what position we are in at all until we have absolute clarity from DCLG over the support they are going to offer the different options.

Olaf Baars: It does come down to how much money. It depends on the conditions that are going to be applied to that money and indeed any constraints that are going to be applied, because money is going to be spent in a certain way.

Richard Moore: For me it is important not to lose sight of the principles of what the FiReControl project was all about and what the principles were in terms of delivery. I think those principles are still sound, albeit we are in a different world now. Whereas before we were sort of being asked to deliver something that was almost prescriptive; what is very apparent now is that we have got the counties and nationals doing quite different things. What is key for me is for somebody to capture those ideas, pick the best ones and share best practice – some sort of co-ordination.

Damian Parkinson: There are certainly heavy indications about some suggested routes that organisations might want to take down the collaborative road, and I can speak for the North West in that we believe it is still the right thing to do. There is a principle which says we can get efficiency and effectiveness out of shared facility.

The issues are now: how can we best utilise the legacy assets that are coming out of FiReControl and, notwithstanding some of the political tensions that may arise, how do we get a clear plan to continue with the FiReControl project for at least the five FRSs in the North West?

Richard Bobbett: The minister’s [Pickles] statement is somewhat optimistic when you look across the whole broad spectrum, but clearly there are some examples where the fire and rescue services are in better shape and well able to carry on with their service’s solution.

At the time of FiReControl there were two programmes that were launched: FireLink and FiReControl. FireLink is fortunately now deployed, it is working and doing its job and that does give us a very common platform to work together because fire and rescue services do have a way of communicating in a way that they didn’t have before.

We have got a platform that we can move from and I think we can help across all fire and rescue services. The piece that is clearly awaited now, as we see in the consultation, is the output of the consultation and the funding.

Euros Evans: From our perspective and a technology perspective, I am particularly interested in understanding solutions that you [fire services] require. I think there is an opportunity here to go from what was a single national solution to a much more localised solution, but equally at the same time still be able to leverage the benefits of shared infrastructure.

David Todd: We have been supplying to the industry for 30 years, so we have a lot of knowledge of both control room solutions and mobile applications, which we have delivered very successfully with Airwave in Scotland under the FireLink project. The key point is some of the technologies talked about within FiReControl are out there already working and are available, and I believe that they can be done on a localised level in relation to supplying best value for the FRSs.

Is there an issue of catch up?

David Todd: I think there is. Not every fire and rescue service out there is in a good position at all. A lot have literally toed the party line and because of it have probably found themselves several years behind other FRSs that have moved on – and they only moved on on the basis they were at the back end of the rollout of the FiReControl programme.

Richard Moore: In East Sussex, we are reasonably focused about the direction we want to move in. When the project was cancelled in the South East, we actually mirrored what they did in the North West.

I think there is a focus but it is a di

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine


  1. Guest
    Guest9th Jun 2011

    At last someone comes up with the right awnesr

Leave a Comment