Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is to move to a new system that will maximise the benefits of having the two fire and police 999 emergency services co-located in the same control room at Kent Police HQ. This is believed to the first fire and police control room working on a common system - SteriaSTORM - which will go live early next year.
In terms of public safety the fact that fire and police will be sharing the same mobilising system will:
- ensure the right resources are rapidly mobilised to incidents
- police and fire will be able to instantly share essential information – particularly during a major incident or if an incident requires both police and fire services to attend
- both services will have a common view of the situation, so, for example, there won’t be any risk of duplication, or errors relating to two different incident addresses
- provide a cost-effective solution for KFRS
- provide improved resilience and interoperability.
KFRS control staff were co-located with Kent Police HQ in March 2012 following the cancellation of the government's FiReControl project. Benefits have already included giving KFRS's 999 staff access to a countywide CCTV network, greater access to the Airwave communications network and closer working especially during major emergencies such as the flooding last Christmas.
Ann Millington, Chief Executive of KFRS said: “We have been working successfully with Kent Police over the last ten years, this is the next step on that journey. The two services want to find ways we can sensibly work together to keep local people safe. Co-locating the two control teams and using a shared system makes the most of our resources and ensure we can keep local services like our essential 999 control team within the county, which is something local people have made clear they want.”
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Brandon said: ‘Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service have always worked very closely and by co-locating the two control rooms we are able to better share information and more work effectively and efficiently together. We will continue to explore any collaborative opportunities that can improve the service we provide to the communities of Kent."
Other partnership work between the two services has included development of a new Kent Resilience Team for emergency planning that is based at KFRS, working to reduce deliberate rubbish fires and joint training exercises.
The new six year contract between Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Steria will provide the SteriaSTORM command and control system, already used by Kent Police, which provides real-time information about the location of emergency services resources onto detailed electronic area maps. This enables control room operators to make rapid decisions and deploy the appropriate resources where they are required.
Steve Demetriou, Director Major Projects and Resilience, KFRS, who has been managing the project said: “This new system will enable us to share information with Kent Police, whilst still preserving the integrity each service may need during security incidents. Our aim is to ensure Kent and Medway is a safer place for our residents and businesses.”