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Essex fire emergency system collapses - Fire alerts back to 50s style pencils, paper and phone messages

Essex Fire Service is in turmoil this week as its new ‘state-of-the-art’ control system that mobilises fire appliances for emergencies collapsed after repeated and multiple faults.

Essex Fire Service began using the new state of the art mobilising system when it moved to its new control room earlier this month. The system, intended to select which fire appliances to send to incidents, has been failing and sending the wrong fire appliances to  fires and other emergencies.

Some fire appliances have been listed as ‘not being available’ whilst in fact firefighters are ready and prepared to attend incidents as usual.

Fire appliances across the county have been sent to wrong addresses and in some cases fire engines from Harlow have been sent to Colchester.

Service managers began by describing the situation as ‘minor teething problems’ and even suggested the control staff were making ‘user errors’ – until the system finally collapsed completely. Fire control operators were forced to revert to 1950s –style methods, jotting notes on pads and informing fire station of emergencies by phone.

The Secretary of the Essex Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Alan Chinn-Shaw said :

“We are extremely concerned about these system failures in control. We have over 100 examples of problems with the new system and this is inevitably resulting in delays to fire appliances arriving at fires and other emergencies. This shambles is resulting in unnecessary risks to both the public and to the firefighters attending these incidents.

”The service was warned prior to the system being brought on-line that it wasn’t ready for use. Until these major problems are corrected the system is not fit for purpose.”

Firefighters across the county have been contacting their fire service managers informing them of major problems and examples of the wrong fire engines being sent to emergencies causing severe delays.

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