London Fire Brigade's Control Room Privatised

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 74 months ago
London Fire Brigade's Control Room Privatised

London's emergency call centre for fire has been outsourced to Capita, in the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority's (LFEPA) final meeting before the elections. They also gave the London Fire Brigade Museum a temporary reprieve.

The London Fire Brigade control room, which deals with 999 calls, will be handed to Capita by the end of the year. It's a 10 year contract to take over all control room staff and implement a new IT system, which is estimated to save the service £5m over the contract term. Capita, however, are dogged by a series of IT failures working with the public sector – Private Eye, the wags, call the company "Crapita" – see the Criminal Records Bureau, Individual Learning Accounts and school records system Sims. It was also fined £1m for poor customer service in the initial stages of the congestion charge.

This is the first time a UK fire brigade has outsourced its emergency call handling. Brian Coleman, Conservative chair of LFEPA, said

This is a win-win situation for Londoners. Outsourcing the Brigade’s 999 control centre will mean people in the capital benefit from a new, high-tech system that will mobilise our firefighters to incidents even more quickly and this will be done at less cost.

The GMB claims that existing staff do not want to work for a privatised company; we also consider it highly likely that even though staff are being "TUPE"'d across, i.e., with their pay and conditions intact, Capita would look to change those contracts as soon as possible (around six months to a year) to start making savings, opening the door for cheaper, less experienced call takers.

There's a glimmer of good news for the London Fire Brigade Museum. We reported earlier this week that the meeting was expected to sign off its closure on 1 April, but a last-minute amendment was passed allowing the museum to remain open until after the election. In the meantime, they'll look into concerns that storing the collection will cost more than running the museum. There's no desperate rush to kick it out of its current home since it turns out the privatised training provider won't be taking over the building for another 18 months.

Photo by The Polstar from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 16 March 2012


Quick. Buy yourself a fire extinguisher and a hose. Don't hang around, do it tomorrow!

disgruntled of LFB

The sign of things to come...?  "Thank you for calling the fire brigade. If you have a fire or fire alarm, press 1. Thank you for reporting you have a fire or fire alarm.  Your call is important to us.  Please listen to the following options. If you are reporting a car alight, press 1. If you are reporting a tree alight, press 2. If you are reporting a bin alight, press 3. If you are reporting a fire alarm in a school, press 4.  If you are reporting a fire alarm in a work premises, press 5. If you are reporting a fire alarm in shop, press 6. If you are reporting a fire in a public building press 7.  If you are reporting a fire in a residential premises, press 8.  Thank you for reporting a fire in residential premises.  If this is not your house, press 1.  If the fire is in your house, press 2.  Thank you for telling us you have a fire in your house.  If you are able to leave the house, please do so now but  please press 1 and stay on the line and operator will be with you shortly.  If you are unable to leave the premises, please press 2 and listen to safety advice while we try to connect you to an operator. Thank you for holding.  Your call is important to us.  We are very busy but your call will be answered as soon as an operator becomes available......"


The beginning of the end.

Andy Hiscox.

Mr Coleman's legacy -
1) LFB fleet of fire engines left in the hands of bankrupts.
2)  Service Control left in the hands of poorly performing self seeking multi national who answer only to their shareholders.
3) Mr Coleman's brain left in the hands of incredulous scientists who marvel how the thing ever worked.
Andy Hiscox 


Hmmmmm. it seems most people have misunderstood what this means.
The same call handlers will be using the same call handling systems in the same control rooms. The fire engines and firemen and women who put out the fires are not part of this deal. So if lives are put at risk it will by the very union, lets call them "workers" in the control room who are complaining that now they might have to work for a living

P'd off

Is it broken? Why fix it then... Private companies are for profit corporations. How much is this company going to make, at the detriment of londers