Calcot'sRoyal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service new £5.4m fire control centre, which serves all three counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, was officially opened by a Government minister on Friday (Jul 17).
Operational since April 23 and based in Pincents Kiln, the Thames Valley Fire Control Service (TVFCS) was officially opened by Mark Francois, the Minister of State for Communities and Resilience.
Welcomed by senior officers of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) from all three counties, the minister was then shown around the facility by station manager, Paul Thomas, met the day control watch and watched a demonstration of the new mobilising system.
This system pinpoints the location of an incident and also exact position of every available fire engine, with the aim of getting the nearest available pump to an incident - irrespective of which of the three counties it is based in.
Mr Francois also visited the operational support room, which supports the control room in the event of a major incident, before unveiling a plaque to mark the official opening and said:
“I am delighted to formally open this new facility, which is a landmark in combining the best in cutting-edge technology with collaboration between neighbouring fire and rescue authorities to provide a solution that cuts response times, provides a better service, but which also reduces costs.
“People across the Thames Valley should be rightly proud of the excellent work done by their fire and rescue authority in bringing this exciting project to fruition.’’
Mr Francois unveiled the plaque alongside Wokingham borough councilllor, Angus Ross. Mr Ross, who is also chairman of the committee which oversees the centre, continued that the facility was:
"absolutely essential in the process of continuing to deliver excellent services for the public we serve, whilst reducing costs in a very challenging financial climate," whilst thanking all those involved in the project, a "team effort," he said, resulting in a "real asset for the safety of residents and businesses in the Thames Valley."
Serving a population of over two million, the new centre has replaced three individual control rooms, which previously served each of the three counties. Funded by Government grants it is anticipated the investment will achieve total savings of £15,871,672 by the end of the financial year 2024/25.
PHOTOGRAPH STEWART TURKINGTON