Firefighters have called for an independent assessment of government plans to build new fire control centres and warned there was a “real risk” of job cuts to pay for the £1bn project.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it was “incompetent” of ministers to agree to the plans to replace the existing 46 control rooms in England before the full costs were known.
Contracts have already been signed and the nine new centres will be operational by 2009 because, the government said, there was a need to modernise and rationalise control rooms.
But the FBU said ministers had conceded that the full cost of the programme could reach £2bn.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said “spiralling” costs would threaten job losses. “We now face the very real risk of cuts to frontline fire services to pay for the rising costs of this project,” he said.
The government estimates there will be about 380 job losses because fewer staff will be needed in the new centres.