Fire Minister Bob Neill has called a halt to the FiReControl project, having reached an agreement with the main contractor Cassidian. A statement released by Communities and Local Government said that ministers believe that the interests of both the fire and rescue community and the taxpayer are best served by closing down the project. CLG and the contractor have now jointly concluded that the project requirements cannot be delivered to an acceptable timeframe.
FiReControl is the third part of the previous government's Fire and Resilience Programme, which also included Firelink and New Dimension. The project aimed to replace England's 46 standalone fire and rescue control rooms with a national network of nine control centres.
In a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament today Bob Neill said: 'The progress of the project has caused serious concern, and so in June this year I made it clear to the main FiReControl contractor, Cassidian (formerly EADS Defence and Security), that the main IT system must now be delivered to time, cost and quality. At this point, we activated a key milestone in their contract requiring the main IT system to be completed in three control centres by mid-2011.
'We told Cassidian that no additional taxpayers' money could be invested in this project, nor would delivery of a system of reduced quality or functionality be acceptable. Following extensive discussion with Cassidian, we have jointly concluded, with regret, that the requirements of the project cannot be delivered to an acceptable timeframe.
'Therefore the best outcome for the taxpayer and the fire and rescue community is for the contract to be terminated with immediate effect. Cassidian and the department for Communities and Local Government have reached an acceptable settlement over this, although the details will remain commercially confidential'. He also thanked the various operational experts and other representatives from the fire and rescue community for their contribution to the project.
CLG will now consult with the fire and rescue community on the future of control room services. This, according to the department, will be based on the principles of localism, and feedback will be sought on the best use of FiReControl assets.