A GLITCH which causes Avon Fire and Rescue Service’s computer system to  “crash during emergency 999 calls” has prompted urgent action.

The software bug in the “mobilisation system”, used to coordinate the response to 999 calls, caused consoles running the system to freeze unexpectedly.

Inspectors warned this has delayed the response to fires and incidents.

On one occasion, the ambulance service asked for help in a serious road traffic collision but the system crashed as the fire service operator tried to arrange the response, meaning they had to start again on another console.

This incident was cited in a letter from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services which raised the glitch as a cause of concern.

Inspector Wendy Williams, who carried out the inspection on the fire service in May and August, said the “longstanding” glitch was causing “unnecessary stress” to operators.

She said: “The service’s mobilisation system, which records information and dispatches resources to emergency incidents, isn’t reliable and crashes during emergency 999 calls.

"This unnecessarily delays the mobilisation of resources, and results in the public receiving a slower response to emergencies.”

But Chief Fire Officer Simon Shilton told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the glitch had now “mainly been resolved,” with fixes made to the system, and a full update to a new version of the software happening this week.

He added that the fire service had still been able to mobilise and take calls throughout the issue.

Speaking at a meeting of a committee of Avon Fire Authority — the public body which runs the fire service —  yesterday (Friday, September 29), Mr Shilton said: “There was work already ongoing at the time of the inspection.”

The force began having twice daily meetings about the issue with the external provider of the software in July.

A “hot fix” was rolled out to consoles in the force’s control rooms at Lansdown and Kingswood in late August, while the provider worked on developing a new version of the software.

Mr Shilton said: “It’s not uncommon for IT to have little glitches from time to time.”

But he said that the frequency of the issue had been increasing around the time of the inspection.