Today the Government is publishing a consultation on the future of fire and rescue control services in England. This follows the closure of the FiReControl project, announced in my statement to the House of 20 December 2010 [col 141WS].
Local fire and rescue authorities have a statutory duty to answer emergency calls and mobilise resources. They have continued to fulfil this duty, and be funded to do so, during the lifetime of the project and, consequently, the closure of the project poses no risk to public safety.
This Government believes that the fire and rescue community is best placed to decide the future of their control services. No solution will be imposed. The consultation reviews the legacy assets from the project, as well as lessons learnt, and encourages the sector to make best use of these in their future plans, for the benefit of both the taxpayer and local communities.
The consultation discusses whether the original aims of the project - improving efficiency, national resilience and the technology available to fire and rescue services - are still valid and, if so, how they might be achieved now. It also considers the principles on which available funding should be distributed. The role of central government, if any, is also considered.
A copy of the consultation document is available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Responses are requested by 8 April 2011.