Strikes loom over plans to build new fire control centres

The prospect of more firefighter strikes could be looming after the government said it would go ahead with plans to replace England’s 47 control rooms with nine new fire control centres.

The £1bn plan will be operational by 2009. Fire service minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the new national network would provide the Fire and Rescue Service with ‘a modern, effective system that will better protect the public’.

Almost 400 jobs will be lost under the plans, but the government said they would hopefully all be voluntary redundancies.

However, Ruth Waters, president of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said the move was ‘criminally irresponsible’ and would make the fire service less responsive.

The years 2002 and 2003 saw a series of strikes by the FBU over pay and safety issues, which led at times to the Army taking on the role of fire fighters in their Green Goddess fire trucks.

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