FIRE chiefs have today revealed 999 calls made in North Yorkshire may be transferred 400 miles away to Cornwall.

A link-up between the two counties' fire services mean they will be able to receive calls and dispatch firefighters on each other's behalf during busy periods, such as severe weather.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said 999 callers could not always get through the control room immediately when handlers are inundated with emergency calls, and the arrangements - the only project of its kind in the country - would mean "increased capacity" to deal with this while also saving money.

The service said North Yorkshire and Cornwall were not usually affected by bad weather - the main cause of busy periods for calls - at the same time because of the distance between them.

It also said the system would mean less staff having to be on duty in each control room, particularly at night, although combined staffing levels at both centres would be higher than for a single control room. A Government grant has paid for a single "mobilising system" to be installed.

"This project will provide a better service to people calling the fire and rescue service in each area, and will save taxpayers' money," said Coun John Fort, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority's chairman.

"It will ensure the future of a control room in North Yorkshire, providing the best service for the public."