BOSSES at the Fire Brigades Union are concerned the recent closure of Lancashire’s control centre is ‘putting lives at risk’.
It comes after Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s emergency call handlers were moved to Warrington in May in a bid to save £20million over the next 12 years.
Fire service managers had said the new regime would allow for the more ‘dynamic’ dispatching of engines to emergencies and improved tracking systems.
But Steve Harman, of the FBU, said there had been instances of engines being sent from far away to fires in Lancashire, including one where controllers dispatched crews from Carlisle to fires in Bury.
The union representative said: “It is at a critical stage where the wheels are coming off.
“There have been mistakes made in mobilising meaning there is a delay. It is obviously potentially putting lives at risk.
“But we also have lots of concerns about the actual conditions our members are working in at the new control centre.”
He said call handlers were working longer shifts with as few as six people covering the whole of the North West at any one time, putting pressure and stress on the workers. Previously, six operators would cover Lancashire alone, he said.
Mr Harman added: “We are trying to resolve the shift systems and working hours because the cuts mean staffing levels have been dropped.
“We believe it is compromising our members’ health and safety and we have regional officials looking into it.”
Mr Harman said there had also been IT problems.
He promised to work with the fire service to iron out the issues firefighters and other staff had been experiencing.
He said: “For the safety of the public and the safety of the firefighter, we are doing everything we can.
“It is no good saying ‘we told you so’ at this late stage.
“There is no going back now and we need the new centre to work.
“We are working with them to try and resolve all of the problems as they arrive.”