The primary purpose of Firelink was the prompt and efficient mobilisation of firefighters in response to a fire or other related incident, in order to save lives and protect property. The firecontrol project would enable this critical function to be carried out with greater speed, responsiveness and efficiency. The project proposed this can be achieved by substituting the current FRS controls room (49 at the time) with 9 regional control centres. The new control centres would possess a new information technology to handle emergency 999 calls, mobilise resources and for supporting the management of incidents.
The initial concept of FiReControl arose from a report commissioned by the government from the management, engineering and development consultancy Mott Macdonal- The future of fire and rescue service control rooms in England and Wales- which was published in April 2000.
The FiReControl project was initiated in 2004 and was predicted to be complete by October 2009. In 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government made a contract with European Air and Defense Systems (EADS). The contract was to design, develop and install the computer system which the project relied on. Unfortunately it was subject to several delays and ever increasing costs over the period the project was active.
Unfortunately, the FiReControl project ended in massive failure and the money spent on it went to waste as its aim was never achieved. It was partly discontinued due to very poor project management then fully abandoned in December 2010 by the new coalition government after concluding that it could not be delivered to an acceptable timeframe. An estimated £245 million was spent on the project and it was calculated that completion would further escalate the total cost of the project up to £635 million, which is five times the original estimate of £120 million.
Also let’s not forget that despite incurring major losses, it seems that CLG might even face more losses in the future. This is due to the fact that the project can’t be stopped. If CLG was to stop rather than continue the operation to cut back on the losses already incurred, £8 million more would be lost. Evidently, we can see that it’s looking dire for the project. Therefore we can assume that we’ll see more losses in the future to come unless the department decides to fix the factors that lead to its failure in first place.
Several factors have led to the failure of the FiReControl project. First of all, there was a lack of consultation with the stakeholders. The lack of openness and collaboration with the main stakeholders from the start triggered many problems in fact. Had CLG been more open from the beginning of the project, many of the problems they encountered in the distant future might not have occurred. Even at present, CLG continues to refuse giving the independent reviews of its management in the project. This is again, another sight of lack of openness, and it suggests the level of insecurity present in CLG’S handling of the FiRecontrol project up to this date.
For example, from the start many local Fire and Rescue authorities and their FRS criticised the lack of clarity on how a regional approach would increase efficiency. The department also didn’t emphasize on why a more concentrated control system for handling 999 emergency calls and mobilising would be more beneficial. In addition to creating mistrust