SFRS board makes decision on future location of control rooms

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Board today voted to support the recommendations in the paper, endorsing control rooms in Dundee, Edinburgh and Johnstone

SFRS Pump Livery 2

A decision on the future location of Fire Controls in Scotland was taken at a meeting of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Board in Dundee today (30 January).

Following a robust discussion to examine the proposals the  Board agreed, by a vote of 9 to 3, that Edinburgh and Dundee will join Johnstone Control as the three Controls for Scotland.

This decision comes as the Service signals its strategic intent to reduce from the present number of eight Controls inherited from the legacy brigades which merged to form a national organisation in April of last year. The implementation of these plans is expected to take three to five years.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Board was presented with a paper detailing six potential options from a combination involving Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

A range of criteria were used including an assessment of risks, which highlighted the combination of Blackness Road, Dundee and Tollcross, Edinburgh as the most suitable solution to complement Johnstone as the three Control room model for Scotland.

The Board had previously agreed to retain Johnstone Control, the largest in Scotland, which currently handles more than 50% of all fire calls in Scotland.

Chair of the SFRS Board, Pat Watters, asked the Board to support the recommendation to ensure the SFRS could provide a robust, resilient and fit for purpose, long term solution for Fire Controls in Scotland.

The Board also reiterated the commitment to no compulsory redundancies with a range of change management policies in place to support affected staff including suitable and appropriate employment opportunities, voluntary severance/early release, redeployment, relocation and travel expenses.

The impact on existing and future staffing requirements have been examined and assessed to support the recommendation.

SFRS Chief Officer Alasdair Hay, said: "I'm absolutely convinced that by moving from the model of eight to three controls means we will have an effective and efficient control room infrastructure.

"What it will do is it will improve the capacity and resilience of our control rooms and with that improvement it will ensure not only the safety of the communities in Scotland but also the safety of our firefighters and that is always at the heart of all the decisions we make.

"We've proposed a tested model. We currently have a control room that operates in Johnstone in Renfrewshire which serves 12 local authority areas and ranges from the very remote and rural areas in Argyle and Bute and 29 inhabited island communities through to some of the country's largest conurbations in Glasgow and Ayrshire. We know this model is absolutely safe and does work and will deliver effective command and control services.

"We're going to increase the capacity within control rooms and improve resilience with a single mobilising platform in the three controls. It's part of a wider strategy aimed at removing duplication to protect and improve frontline services and outcomes and frees resources to invest into community safety and improve access to specialist resources. It is important to view this decision as part of a wider picture."

Mr Hay added: "I understand how disappointed staff in those controls that will not form part of the three control room model will be. They perform a fantastic role in keeping communities safe we intend to continue to support them and work with them. It should be noted that there are no compulsory redundancies and we will be engaging directly with staff.

"The expertise our control staff have will be used in the transition and we will do everything we can to ensure they have a strong future in the SFRS if that is what they want, although they will have access to a number of alternative options including redeployment, retraining and voluntary severance early retirement options.

"We will put in place a proven model that will absolutely ensure the safety of firefighters and safety of communities right across Scotland. We'll ensure that as we go through this transition we take account of all the concerns that people have.

"Changes won't happen overnight but over a period of three to five years so that gives us opportunity to address concerns people have and also make sure that this is a carefully managed process." 

Click here to view the Fire Control Options Appraisal report.

Additional information on the Control Room Business case is available in a question and answer format.  Click here to view: Control Rooms Q&A