East and West Sussex fire and rescue services are hoping to save millions of pounds by sharing an emergency control centre.
The cash-strapped services now handle 999 calls from a combined centre in Haywards Heath, after moving out of their sites in Upperton Road, Eastbourne, and Chichester.
It is hoped the move will save more than £4 million over the next five years.
Twenty staff posts were lost through voluntary redundancy and retirement.
The transition was made on May 21 and staff at the new centre took 87 calls from 10am on that day and 7.30am on May 22.
Assistant Chief Officer Cheryl Rolph said, “East and West Sussex Fire & Rescue Services have approached a new milestone in the joint Sussex Control Centre – a project which will deliver long term savings while continuing to meet the needs of the community.
“We would like to reassure the public that in the event of needing the Fire & Rescue Service by dialling 999, they will receive exactly the same professional response and mobilisation of fire appliances and other resources across the whole of Sussex as they do now, with experienced staff ready to help.”
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive, Des Prichard, added, “Both services will continue to provide a high performing Fire & Rescue Service to meet the changing needs of our respective local communities.
“This is a task being delivered against a declining budget, so by working closer together within our respective Control functions we are able to deliver greater efficiency savings.”
The fire station at Haywards Heath has been substantially re-modelled specifically for this new joint function and work has been carried out to link the Sussex Control Centre to the existing IT infrastructure.
Control staff have undergone training on both computer and telephone systems to maintain and exceed their continued competence in role.