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Work Begins on New Fire Stations


Building work on two new state-of-the-art community fire stations for Northumberland began on Monday 27 July.

The stations in Pegswood and the new headquarters in West Hartford are scheduled for completion next summer as part of an ambitious programme of building across the north east.

Five new fire stations will be built during the coming year as part of a £60 million North East Fire and Rescue Authorities (NEFRA) Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The project is receiving funding from Communities and Local Government which is contributing £42 million in PFI credits to assist in the construction work.

The new community fire station and headquarters at West Hartford will be equipped with

three fire fighting appliances including an incident response unit, for terrorist and other incidents. These will be operated by one part-time and two full-time crews. In addition to the fire fighting response units, there will also be a North East Ambulance Service response unit and crew.

At Pegswood the new station will be equipped with three fire fighting appliances including a high volume pumping unit. This is able to pump water over great distances in rural areas where water is scarce. It is also an invaluable piece of equipment in flooding incidents as it can move water away from danger points for safe dispersal. A part-time crew and two full-time crews will staff the three appliances. This station will also be the base for a specialist swift water rescue team; established to provide an enhanced flood evacuation and in-water search and rescue capability.

The design and construction of both stations will be environmentally friendly achieving BREEAM (energy efficiency rating) of between "˜very good' and "˜excelllent'.

As well as providing emergency fire and rescue cover, each station will have multi-media facilities including free internet access and meeting rooms, which will be available for members of the public to book. Both stations will also be equipped to train the public in fire and community safety and advice about these subjects will be available from experienced staff as part of a "˜drop in' service.

Brian Hesler, Chief Fire Officer for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are proud to be leading the building stage of this seminal project for the North East. The community facilities that we will be able to provide in Northumberland's two new fire stations and HQ will allow us to improve the service we can offer to the community in terms of prevention and advice as well as continuing to respond to incidents quickly and efficiently across the county. We have taken full advantage of this opportunity to seize significant Government funding for Northumberland, which in itself will create much needed investment in the building industry during this time of economic downturn."

Councillor Ian Lindley, Northumberland County Council's executive member for community safety (incorporating Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service), said: "This is an exciting time for Northumberland; the transformation of fire service provision is in keeping with the reorganisation we have seen in the county as a whole. The fire service is increasingly working to prevent incidents and it is a rich vein of expertise; building community fire stations will allow local people to tap into this expertise and help to ensure community safety informs local people, groups and projects."

Fire Minister Shahid Malik said: "I am delighted that the Government has been able to award the combined North-East fire and rescue authorities £42 million in PFI credits to construct these new buildings. Overall since 1997 the Government has provided England's fire and rescue services with over £550 million through the PFI to invest in their buildings and vehicles.

"The Government is investing in improving the fire and rescue service estate as it has a direct impact on progress in the creation of a service that meets the needs of today's world, providing fire stations in the right locations to help save lives as well as better working conditions for firefighters and back-office staff."

John Laing Investments is providing 80% of the equity for the NEFRA project and Shepherd Construction is providing the remaining 20%, as well as building the five new stations.

Area Director for John Laing, Mike White, said: "We are delighted to have reached the delivery stage of this project, which will significantly improve facilities for the fire and rescue authorities in the North East, while also providing facilities for the use of the communities around the new stations. We are looking forward to a long and successful partnership with the NEFRA PFI project and all of its stakeholders."

Allan McDougall, Divisional Chief Executive of Shepherd Construction, the firm overseeing the project from its Darlington office, said: "This exciting project will see five new stations built over the next year. Each one will include community facilities, allowing the fire authorities to link to local people and proactively look at fire prevention and safety issues. The North East is leading the way with these stations and we look forward to working closely with the authorities to deliver such modern and innovative facilities."

Graeme Dodd, Managing Director of Napper Architects, said: "Having recently completed six community fire stations, a technical service centre and a new brigade headquarters for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Napper Architects is delighted to continue their emergency services involvement by developing designs for the new community fire station at Pegswood and the service headquarters at West Hartford. These innovative buildings, which have been developed in close partnership with advisors from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, integrate community facilities into the heart of the buildings allowing immediate community access to fire prevention advice and assistance without compromising operational effectiveness."

The project has resulted in a boost to the regional economy with a number of North East businesses playing key roles in the NEFRA project. Newcastle-based solicitors Dickinson Dees are involved in the legal contracts; Shepherd Construction based in York and Darlington is delivering the build and Napper Architects in Newcastle designed the new fire stations and headquarters.

The stations are set to be up and running as follows: Pegswood, June 2010; West Hartford, August 2010; Bishop Auckland, May 2010; Spennymoor, June 2010; North Shields, June 2010.

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