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Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt MP, came to the region today and visited Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) to officially open the new control centre and meet with the Chief Fire Officer to discuss some of the innovative projects emerging from HFRS.

Dene Sanders, Chief Fire Officer, said: “Having a visit from the Fire Minister was a great opportunity to highlight that Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is at the forefront of a number of new initiatives both on its own and with partners that ensure we amply demonstrate our readiness and plans for change that meet the challenging landscape we face.

The control centre, that manages all 999 calls and requests for assistance that come into the Service, has recently undergone a major refurbishment in preparation for the completion of the East Coast & Hertfordshire Control Room Consortium Project in the next 12 months.

The collaboration of Humberside, Lincolnshire, Norfolk & Hertfordshire FRS control rooms will utilise the latest technology on a shared infrastructure that will see the four fire services remotely link their control centres together creating a virtual single control.

During her visit Ms Mordaunt met members of the control centre team and was shown some of the recent upgrades which have improved the working environment for staff and made Humberside one of the most technically advanced control centres in the country.

Hayley Jackson, manager of the new control centre said: “We are pleased the Fire Minister is here to officially open the control centre. The new control centre will offer an improved, more resilient and efficient service resulting in quicker response times to emergency incidents.”

Mr Sanders also took the opportunity to outline some of the innovative approaches the Service is taking to deliver training. In 2012 HFRS set up HFR Solutions CIC, a community interest company, which is a full service risk prevention and emergency response provider.

“As the Humber region is becoming the UKs green energy estuary, we have adapted our training programmes and invested in state of the art working at height tower and confined space training unit to ensure the best facilities are available for our staff and those working in the renewable industry,” Dene added.

The Fire Minister was also briefed on the Ark project, which will be the first multi-agency water response centre in the country. The facility will include a water reservoir large enough to submerse a vehicle and other hazards. This will enable the imitation of rapids for fast moving water scenarios and enable effective and safe rescue training to be delivered to organisations and individuals who may have to respond during flood incidents, using a variety of relevant water incident interventions.

Dene said: “The Ark will provide innovative interventions for the preparation, planning, resourcing and training for all water related incidents including flood, fast moving water situations and all other water rescues.

“It will give us the opportunity to train other fire and rescue services, emergency services, third sector and private organisations in a safe, controlled environment, with a great degree of flexibility. We will also be able to offer training and guidance to members of the public, preparing them for what they can do to help themselves in a flood situation.”

The Minister received briefings on the new emergency services workshop facility recently launched as a joint venture between the fire and police services of Humberside as well as the arrangements for maintaining firefighter fitness in Humberside, these have been one of the main subjects of the ongoing pensions dispute between the FBU and the government nationally. The Chief Fire Officer made it clear that his belief is that Humberside is the fittest fire and rescue service in the country and is set to remain so.

Dene also spoke with Ms Mordaunt about the Service’s growing involvement in the health and wellbeing agenda. He said: “We are working more closely with our partners than ever before, especially those involved in health and wellbeing. We’re working with Hull CCG as we see a lot of potential areas of overlap in the work we both do to improve health outcomes for our communities and are a committed member of the Hull 2020 initiative. As part of this we are looking at ways of working more closely together including the potential for sharing premises at our sites in East Hull.”

At the end of her visit, Ms Mordaunt was shown a preview of an exciting new health initiative ahead of its official launch on Tuesday 3 March at 10:30am in Queen Victoria Square, Hull.