West Sussex could share emergency fire service control room with Surrey

Crews were called to a fire at a Burgess Hill property today (February 19)
Crews were called to a fire at a Burgess Hill property today (February 19)

West Sussex could share its emergency fire service control room operations with Surrey as it looks to move on from a similar agreement with East Sussex.

The Sussex Control Centre (SCC) has been in operation since May 2014, when the mobilising staff from East and West Sussex moved into a new facility at Haywards Heath.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service moved to a new mobilisation system in early 2018 but it ran into early difficulties. However the authority says the system is currently functioning as expected.

After a thorough review of SCC operations, West Sussex County Council served a notice of termination in August 2018 meaning West Sussex’s fire and rescue service has to come up with new arrangements by February 2020.

The county council has now revealed its preferred option is to enter into a partnership with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to deliver a joint mobilisation and control centre.

According to an officers’ report this option is attractive because SFRS ‘operate a tried and tested market leading mobilising system which is fully deployed and has been in operation for three years’.

Meanwhile ‘wider collaboration opportunities’ beyond the use of a single mobilising system have been identified.

The proposals are set to be scrutinised by WSCC’s environment, communities and fire select committee on Wednesday January 30.

Over the long term the plans would realise savings for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, but would require a £934,000 one-off investment in 2019/20 to complete the transfer to a new system.

The report said it was expected East Sussex Fire and Rescue would continue to use the building at Haywards Heath, which would yield a rental income for WSCC.

SFRS’ headquarters is based in Reigate.

Further details about the proposals are included in private papers not currently available to press and public due to financial, technical and commercially confidential elements.