London Fire Brigade

Brigade’s new control open ready for Olympics

01 February 2012

The transformation of a potential white elephant into a hub for the capital’s 999 fire response service will be officially recognised on Wednesday 1 February when fire minister Bob Neill, MP opens a new London Fire Brigade operations centre in Merton.

The building was originally specified and built as part of the failed regional FiReControl project abandoned in December 2010.  An agreement has been reached between London’s fire authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government that is expected deliver savings of around £600,000 to the Brigade. The government is also paying £2.25m towards the future purchase of a new ‘999’mobilising system.

The Brigade’s control centre  has moved from its former home on the Isle of Dogs.  Other occupants include the Brigade’s emergency planning team who are able to coordinate the emergency planning work of London’s boroughs when circumstances dictate a London-wide solution, such as the snow of previous winters. The building will also house the fire service’s National Co-ordination Centre, which is due to move from West Yorkshire to Merton in April this year, bringing London and national fire service emergency planning under one roof in time for the Olympics.  

With the minister at the opening of the London Operations Centre  will  be Mayor of London Boris Johnson, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Chairman Councillor Brian Coleman and London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “'The opening of this new operation centre is testament to our commitment to deliver a fire service that London needs, whilst protecting the pockets of hard-pressed Londoners. With the eyes of the world on the city this year, it is essential that we have the systems in places so that our response to any incidents will be quick and robust.”

Fire Authority Chairman Councillor Brian Coleman said: “I am delighted that we have been able to salvage this excellent facility from the wreckage of the regional control project whilst saving the London council tax payer money. This is a good deal”

Notes to Editors

• First planned in 2004 and expected to cost around £340m, the FiReControl project was beset with difficulties causing delays to the project’s implementation and projected cost overruns. The project was abandoned in December 2010 when it became clear that cost and delays were to increase still further to around £500m. The buildings to house the nine regional control rooms had by that time been built.
• Around 100 Control staff work a six-watch system. Taking over 250,000 calls a year, it is the busiest fire control in Europe.
• In the event of an incident that may have national implications requiring co-ordination of national resources, the Fire Service National Co-ordination Centre liaises with the government and fire and rescue services to mobilise the required resources.
• The Emergency Planning Team’s London Local Authority Coordination Centre coordinates the emergency planning work of London’s boroughs when a London-wide response is required. An example is during the past two harsh winters, when the Centre has been used to coordinate salt and grit supplies across the capital.