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Government scraps FireControl system

Government scraps FireControl system

Two years late, five-times over budget and no prospect of success

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The government has cancelled the £350 million FireControl project, following widely-voiced concerns over costs and delays, and angry objections from firefighters’ unions.

But it declined to reveal the settlement reached or any cancellation penalties that will be paid.

Fire minister Bob Neill today confirmed the cancellation of the scheme, which had been intended to merge 46 local fire control centres to nine ‘state of the art’ centres driven by advanced IT systems.

At the latest projected cost of £350 million, the scheme was five times over budget. It was also over two years late.

The government said today that it had reached an agreement with Cassidian – a division of defence and security firm EADS – to end work on the scheme.

In a written statement, reported by the Press Association, Bob Neill said delays to the scheme had caused “serious concern”, adding that he had told EADS in June that the main |T system underpinning the changes needed to 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,” he wrote. "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.”

Both the government and EADS had concluded “with regret” that the project “cannot be delivered to an acceptable timeframe”, he wrote.

“Therefore the best outcome for the taxpayer and the fire and rescue community is for the contract to be terminated with immediate effect.”

Neill described the resulting financial agreement between the government and EADS as “acceptable” but declined to reveal the details, saying they will “remain commercially confidential”.

A spokesperson at EADS said: “We regret that the FireControl contract has been terminated, although both EADS and the Department for Communities and Local Government are in agreement that this decision is in the best interests of all parties, since it could not be delivered to an acceptable timeframe.”

The project had consistently met with angry objections from the Fire Brigades Union, which said it could cost jobs and endanger safety by giving the new call centres control of large swathes of the country which the staff may have no knowledge of.

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