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Northern fire and rescue control rooms to shut by early 2017

999 calls currently handled in Aberdeen and Inverness will be dealt with from Dundee.

Fire service: Control rooms to shut in 2017 (file pic).
Fire service: Control rooms to shut in 2017 (file pic). PA

Northern fire service control rooms will close by early next year, STV News has learned.

Emergencies currently handled at call centres in Aberdeen and Inverness will be dealt with in Dundee by late April 2017.

The closures are part of a cost-saving drive to reduce the number of control rooms from eight to three.

The Fire Brigades Union Scotland (FBUS) has raised concerns about a loss of local knowledge and increased pressure on staff as a result.

FBUS previously warned that closing control rooms could "result in less staff dealing with more calls over larger areas", make mistakes more likely and increase response times.

But the fire service said: "We respond to every emergency 999 call. This will not change.

"Our multi-million pound investment will ensure communities in the north are served by a state-of-the-art control capability that will direct our local crews quickly and effectively to where they are needed.

"We are starting a carefully planned and phased programme led by a dedicated team. This will ensure the new operations control only comes online when we are fully satisfied that all testing, staff training and system integration has been successfully completed.

"We look forward to unveiling our new capability to communities in the north in early 2017."

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Dumfries control room closed in late 2014, followed by Thornton in Fife and Maddiston in Falkirk earlier this year.

Call centres in Edinburgh, Dundee, and Johnstone in Renfrewshire, will remain open.

The fire service previously estimated that switching to a single call-handling system across all three remaining control rooms would save £2.3m and cost 60 jobs.

Laura Ross, who led a campaign against the closure of the Inverness control room, said: "Communities across the Highlands and Islands showed that they are vehemently opposed to the proposed changes.

"We are exceptionally disappointed that the Scottish Government would allow this to happen despite damning evidence."

She added: "Local knowledge and expertise is being bypassed as a cost-cutting exercise."

When the decision to shut the control rooms was announced in January 2014, the process was expected to take between three and five years.

Aberdeen and Dundee had been scheduled to merge by the end of this year.

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