Double Government computer failure shows plans to axe all emergency fire control rooms will cost lives

The latest Government computer crash at the Department of Work and Pensions shows the folly of the Government plans to axe all existing emergency fire control rooms. The move will make the fire brigade 999 service far more prone to catastrophic failure the union says, putting lives at risk.

The collapse of the DWP benefits computer follows continuing major problems with tax credits which is also computer related. The FBU warns that instead of not getting benefits or a tax credit the public would not be getting a fire service.

General Secretary Andy Gilchrist said: "There is almost no support outside of Whitehall for plans to close every emergency fire control room. We all know it will be a financial and technological disaster yet ministers want to press ahead.

If you rely on a single computer and communications system for fire controls and axe almost all of the back up controls you are heading for disaster. There is no question this will cost lives because computers and communications can and will fail.

Instead of the cheque not turning up it will be the fire service not turning up. The public will be held in call waiting queues listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons while the room fills with smoke.

There are no plans to axe the 99 police controls or the 44 ambulance controls because the Home Office and the NHS know that is nuts. The only people who don't accept the folly of this type of move are in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The current fire controls systems needs some updating, not decimating. The Government is heading for a financial and technological disaster but they are refusing to listen to anyone."

Notes to editors: The Government plans to shut every local emergency fire control centre in the UK with the exception of Northern Ireland and London They will create 8 regional centres in England and want to create as few as 1 in Scotland. They are pressurising the Welsh Assembly to follow suit in Wales although this is being strongly resisted.

At present system failures are covered by neighbouring fire controls with no loss of service. Fire Authorities in most parts of England are in open revolt against the plans.

The union's response to the Government plans "Out of Control" is on the FBU website.

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