Why the Fire Control Centre jobs MUST stay in Cornwall

No control of our fire control center for Cornwall

by Cllr Kate Ewert

During the official period of mourning for our late Queen, news broke in Cornwall that Cornwall Council is proposing to close our Cornish Control Unit and entrust it to another authority to manage. That this was announced at a time when there was little or no opportunity to ask questions is in and of itself quite concerning to me.

But, of course, even more worrying is the suggestion that our fire control center may be leaving the Duchy altogether. The firefighters’ union has expressed grave concern about the proposal, saying:

“Highly specialized skills and knowledge are required to handle fire and rescue calls. The ability of screening personnel to assist in identifying accident sites while mobilizing resources cannot be underestimated. IT systems are not 100% reliable and when failures do occur it is important that control operators are able to cope under all circumstances. You can’t just have that done by another emergency service, it’s just not that easy. It is basic common sense that you cannot operate a fire and rescue service without proper funding and qualified personnel.”

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I totally agree with her thoughts and of course I have a few of my own.

We are told that the control center is nearing the end of its life and that it would be far too costly to update the equipment, which I find completely short-sighted. I thought the Conservatives should be about growth and the economy, this proposed decision is about neither. We have been told that this decision is purely a financial one, but I disagree, how financially sending jobs from Cornwall is a good decision? We are a proud region of Cornwall, we have our own fire service and it is worrying to say the least to ship parts of it out of the Duchy.

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I would like to see more jobs like fire control in Cornwall; more good paying, high quality and unionized jobs right here in the heart of Cornwall – not dumping the ones we have to another agency. We should be happy to invest in up to date, cutting edge technology and make our public services as good as possible and not just throw our hands up in the air and say ‘this is too expensive, we can outsource it and rely on what3words instead’!

And that raises another problem: moving our control services out of the Duchy takes away from us local knowledge, which anyone with even a passing knowledge of Cornwall knows is of the utmost importance. We have a huge influx of temporary residents during the summer months, roads become impassable, sat navs unreliable and time is wasted when we have call agents who may be hundreds of miles away and are totally unaware of the eccentricity of our road network.

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So, no, closing our fire control center is not the answer. Instead, let’s invest in our infrastructure, in our people, and in our communities by upgrading the technology needed and making sure good-paying jobs stay in place
Cornwall and that we don’t lose any more of our highly skilled workforce elsewhere. Let’s have ambition for Cornwall instead of turning our backs on the rescue workers who kept us safe last summer as unprecedented wildfires blazed across Cornwall.

Let’s keep jobs in Cornwall, where the cost of living crisis is being felt badly and job losses are not welcome.

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