West Midlands and Staffordshire fire authorities get £3.6m grant

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Two fire authorities have started work to develop a joint control room.

Staffordshire and West Midlands fire authorities have been awarded £3.6m by the government, £500,000 less than their original bid.

Fire services in Staffordshire and the West Midlands, which also cover Coventry, currently operate separate emergency 999 centres.

In November, the authorities signed a formal partnership agreement.

In a joint statement they said work was now under way to determine how a single control room might operate.

Chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Len Bloomer, said they might have to review "the scope" of their plans due to the funding shortfall.

He added it was important to make sure "the shared facility has the technology and ICT resource we need".

The new equipment would be used to answer 999 calls and mobilise fire crews.

The shared system, which would include a back-up site for resilience, is expected to be operational by April 2014.

A project to set up a network of nine regional fire control centres was scrapped in December 2010, at a cost of £469m.

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