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Taking the heat: Fire call handlers on move

West Yorkshire's fire control room in the 1980s and, below, as it is now

West Yorkshire's fire control room in the 1980s and, below, as it is now

Emergency calls to the fire service in West Yorkshire will be handled from a control room in Leeds for the first time in the brigade’s history.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is moving its control room to Bramley from its current headquarters in Birkenshaw, where it has been for the last 40 years, in the summer.

Project director, deputy chief fire officer Steve Beckley, said: “The new command and control centre in Leeds is a major step forward and has been designed to house the very latest in emergency control centre technology.”

The centre, which will also provide administrative facilities, will be opened by the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Ingrid Roscoe tomorrow. Call-handlers, who will also deal with 999 calls for South Yorkshire, will start there in the summer.

The move comes four years after a £500 million scheme to build a state-of-the-art control room in Wakefield that was meant to serve the whole of Yorkshire was scrapped.

Mr Beckley added: “After that scheme failed we were faced with an ageing command and control system which needed replacing. This is part of the solution to that.”

Brigade control originally opened at Birkenshaw in 1974 when the West Yorkshire Fire Service was formed to replace the West Riding, County Borough, and City brigades.

Call-handlers used simple card wheel indexes to find addresses, a system which continued until 1987, when the brigade’s first computerised mobilising system was brought in.

The fire service, which is undergoing a major programme of cost-cutting, will remain at the Birkenshaw site.

But it is seeking to secure planning permission for housing on about 3.6 acres of land that it plans to put up for sale as it moves some of its functions elsewhere.

 

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