EMERGENCY fire calls from Cumbria have been switched to Warrington – in a move that has been labelled a ‘shambles’.

After closing down the Cockermouth control room two years ago, Cumbria County Council wanted the move to the new base to take place in March.

But it was delayed because the IT systems needed for the change were ‘not up to full operational capacity’.

Now the new control room is ‘live’ and a Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) spokesman said: “Cumbria’s control room moved to Cheshire temporarily in 2012 so it’s business as usual on the ground now.”

But there has been strong opposition to the re-routing of 999 calls to Cheshire from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which claims its mem-bers concerns over the change have ‘resurfaced’.

Dave Burn, the FBU chair for Cumbria, said: “Initially we had some mobilising issues when we went in with Cheshire, where incorrect resour-ces were sent to incidents but these were ironed out and thankfully were not a serious issue.

“However, already we are seeing unacceptable delays of up to 10 minutes in mobilising from North West Fire Control.

“The technology is still in its infancy and isn't really user-friendly, which is an unnecessary distraction. All in all it’s a bit of a shambles.”

But the CFRS spokesman said: “The North West Control Room is providing the people of Cumbria with an imp-roved call-handling function that uses the latest proven technology, designed for and by fire and rescue services, to better direct the available firefighting resources to incidents.

“Caller identification makes it faster to process and locate a call and the software automatically identifies and deploys the nearest appropriate vehicle.”