North Yorkshire and Cornwall fire services to join forces

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North Yorkshire and Cornwall's fire services could share control rooms at busy times, such as during floods.

A report going before North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority said it would make them more efficient and effective.

The distance between the two - more than 300 miles - would reduce the likelihood of both areas having a major incident at the same time.

The Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) said the lack of local knowledge would affect response times.

The report said both North Yorkshire and Cornwall were both large rural areas, which normally had a "low level" of calls, and staffing levels did "not cope well" with the volume of calls during major incidents.

'Point of collapse'

A tale of two counties

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

  • Covers 3,391 square miles (8591km²) and a population of 799,000
  • 39 fire stations, 47 fire engines
  • 20 control room staff handling 15,000 emergency calls and 85,000 administrative calls a year

Cornwall Fire and Rescue

  • Covers 1,374 square miles (3,559km²) and population of 535,000
  • 31 fire stations, 83 fire engines
  • 18 control room staff handling 10,500 emergency calls and 38,000 administrative calls a year

North Yorkshire currently has 20 control room staff, but that will be reduced to 17 from April.

Cornwall councillor Lance Kennedy said: "If Cornwall was inundated with flooding and the control room was at the point of collapse, with this we've got the same technology so we'll be able to switch calls to North Yorkshire's control room.

"Given that it normally takes a day for storms to move north-south or vice-versa, it's unlikely that both control rooms would be suffering severe flooding at the same time so they'd be able to support each other."

Secretary of the FBU in North Yorkshire, Richard Stevens, said it was a "cost-cutting measure" that would lead to further job cuts.

Mr Stevens said local knowledge was crucial and added: "The technology does help pinpoint but it doesn't always give the exact location. The same applies down in Cornwall."

Mr Kennedy responded: "Let's not forget they are dispatching local crews who do know the area. This is just the initial call to dispatch the resources."

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