Hungerford Fire Station is set to become Royal Berkshire’s first community tri-service station after plans for a modern refurbishment were approved by West Berkshire Council on Monday 17 October.
The approved plans will not only deliver a modern, fit for purpose fire station, but will also offer a shared location for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), Thames Valley Police (TVP) and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) to operate from.
The refurbishment work has been planned by RBRFS and funded by the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) to help RBFRS deliver objectives set out in its Vision 2019 plan. One of the central objectives set out is to place Berkshire’s fire stations at the heart of the communities that they serve, enabling people to live safe, fulfilling lives.
Once complete, all three services will operate from the refurbished station, with RBFRS and TVP based on site and SCAS able to use the station’s facilities as needed. Firefighters from the new station will also continue to respond to serious medical emergencies alongside their SCAS colleagues, as part of the RBFRS CoResponding scheme. It is expected that this arrangement will allow greater collaboration between the three organisations, for the benefit of the local community.
The approved plans include a provision for a community room within the new station, which members of the public or local community groups will be able to use. The new station has been designed to be easily identifiable for visitors and the general public.
Work is due to begin in November 2016, with completion expected by June 2017. RBFRS’ full operational response will be maintained in Hungerford during the refurbishment work, with the retained crew and appliance operating from an alternative location, located on the Hungerford Trading Estate.
Before work commences on the refurbishment, there will be several opportunities for the public to find out more about the project, as well as ask any questions. Further details on this will be published in due course.
Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority said: “We’re delighted these plans have received the go ahead. This RBFRS initiative reflects our commitment to modernise our stations and embed them firmly at the heart of the communities that they serve alongside other organisations.”
Andy Fry, Chief Fire Officer at RBFRS said: “As Berkshire’s first tri-service station this is an exciting opportunity to strengthen our ongoing partnership with other emergency services to deliver even better, more efficient services to the people of Hungerford and the surrounding area.”
Simon Dackombe, Strategic Planner at Thames Valley Police said: “Thames Valley Police are delighted to be part of this exciting project and look forward to operating from a more fit for purpose facility that is better suited to the needs and demands of modern policing within Hungerford. In delivering this new facility it enables TVP to dispose of the current Police Station, something which has been planned for some time.”
Deputy Commander for West Berkshire Local Policing Area, Chief Inspector Lindsey Finch, said: “We’re happy to be working closely with RBFRS to provide a neighbourhood office for our local officers in Hungerford. We remain committed to maintaining our police presence in Hungerford, and this new location at the heart of the local community will allow our officers to do this.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “This project is an example of the strategic collaboration between the Thames Valley Police and the three Fire and Rescue Services of the Thames Valley, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year. This efficient further collaboration of blue light services in Hungerford will not only save money but increase operational effectiveness for the people of Hungerford.”
Philip Astle, Chief Operating Officer at SCAS said: “We look forward to continuing the working partnership with RBFRS at Hungerford and are committed to providing excellent patient care to our local community and surrounding areas.”