Staff to move in Fire Service reshuffle

West Yorkshire Fire Service HQ, Oakroyd Hall, Birkenshaw. (110811)
West Yorkshire Fire Service HQ, Oakroyd Hall, Birkenshaw. (110811)

STAFF from West Yorkshire Fire Service’s Birkenshaw headquarters are to be moved to Leeds.

Fire chiefs announced a new £3m call system was to be adopted and would mean two new control centres in Leeds and South Yorkshire would be created.

Control room staff from Birkenshaw, who answer 999 calls, would be moved to Leeds.

But chiefs could not confirm whether the move would mean job losses.

The changes only affect the control room, the rest of the Birkenshaw site is unaffected.

A spokeswoman said: “We are in the very early stages of a process which will determine the staffing arrangements for the new system.

“Negotiations and consultation is just beginning and will continue throughout 2013 with representative bodies and staff.

“It is part of our ongoing review of all operational and non-operational staffing. It is important to stress that no decisions have been made at this stage.”

The new call system is a collaboration between South and West Yorkshire Fire Services which bosses say will save £400,000 a year, which will be reinvested to help protect frontline services. The new system, described as state-of-the-art, is expected to be fully operational in 2014.

Authority chairman Coun Mehboob Khan said: “We are getting a high quality new system to handle 999 calls and despatch fire engines, at very little cost to local taxpayers. The service and maintenance agreements which are built into this contract mean we will save £400,000 per year compared to our existing arrangements.”

Steve Beckley, deputy chief fire officer and project executive, said: “This new system is at the cutting edge of mobilising technology and ensures we will continue to provide a first class 999 service to our local communities. By working together we are not only delivering significant efficiencies at a time of severe financial constraint but also adding resilience for times of peak activity. The new system will operate across two control rooms in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire where control staff will be able to answer each other’s calls and despatch each other’s fire appliances should the need arise.”

The new system has been mostly paid for with a government grant, awarded after its FiReControl project was scrapped in 2010.