Plans for a Joint Public Service Centre (JPSC) for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) have been approved.
Chief Fire Officers from both services and the Chief Constable of South Wales Police officially launched the joint project at a meeting on 16 April to merge the two fire and rescue services’ fire control functions and co-locate at South Wales Police headquarters in Bridgend.
One of the main aims of the JPSC is to provide an improved service to members of the public through a series of IT upgrades. The enhancements in technology will assist the JPSC in locating a member of the public in distress and in need of assistance from a distance of 100m to 30m. If the person in distress is carrying a GPS enabled mobile phone, the JPSC will be able to pinpoint their exact location. Historically, fire and rescue services had the ability to view their own fire appliances, but these changes will allow all services to view all fire appliances throughout Wales enhancing integration and improving support in the border areas.
Following the decision to proceed with this project, work will now begin on reviewing staffing models in the two Fire Controls from the current shift pattern to a demand led resourcing model.
Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said, “Our communities will benefit considerably from this merger and co-location, which will ensure they receive a better level of emergency response, from both fire and police forces. It has been a longstanding desire for many emergency services across the UK to integrate control rooms and this project is a significant step in realising that ambition here in Wales.”
Another key aim of the JECC is to provide enhanced resilience. As part of the project, an extension will be built at the Police Public Service Centre building at South Wales Police to allow control staff and managers from blue light services to share a facility that will provide a better flow of intelligence and information when responding to emergency situations.
It is anticipated that the project will go live in April 2016 and will realise significant financial savings.
Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan said, “Outcomes of major emergencies across the UK continue to demonstrate the importance of blue light services working in full harmony both on the ground and in Public Service Centres. This project will enable us to share valuable information and manage incidents on a multi-agency level, which will significantly improve the way emergency services deliver a response to people who need our collective help.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Derek Masson, who is the project lead, said, “Since local Government reorganisation in 1996, Fire Controls across Wales have seen considerable changes in technology, the number and types of emergency incidents and work locations. The recent feasibility report into the merger and co-location estimates the potential savings to the Welsh taxpayer would be in the region of £1m per year.
“I have every confidence that a joint public service centre in Bridgend would expertly serve the needs of both Mid and West and South Wales Fire and Rescue Services. It will be staffed by professional, experienced staff from both Services, linking each of them in a seamless way.”