Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service celebrated the official opening of Crowthorne Community Fire Station on Friday, 15 October. Crowthorne Community Fire Station is Royal Berkshire’s second tri-service community fire station. As such, it offers a shared location for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Thames Valley Police and South Central Ambulance Service.
Construction began in May 2019 and took 11 months to complete. The Community Fire Station was delivered on time and on budget, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the build, Crowthorne’s on-call firefighters were able to respond from a base at Wellington College, before beginning to respond operationally from the new Community Fire Station in May 2020. The official opening provided the opportunity for a number of partners and dignitaries to speak to Crowthorne’s on-call firefighters and take a tour of the Community Fire Station.
Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “I am delighted to officially open Crowthorne Community Fire Station. While the firefighters began responding from the new station in May 2020, the official opening had been delayed due to the pandemic, so we are delighted that we have now been able to official open the station with this ceremony, with some social distancing and restrictions remaining in place to keep guests safe during the event. I know that the Community Fire Station will provide space for all three blue light services to come together, work collaboratively and engage with the local community. I am truly proud of all the work that has gone into realising our mission to place fire stations at the heart of the communities they serve and want to place on record my thanks to the local community for their patience while the COVID measures have been in place. We hope to shortly open up the station in a COVID safe way for the local community to visit and see their local station.”
Councillor Angus Ross, Lead Member for Strategic Assets, said: “I would like to place on record my thanks to all those who have been involved with the project. From the firefighters and Wellington College who so generously provided a space for them to respond from, to the Capital Projects team at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and our partners who were essential for the design and construction of the build, including HLM Architects, Ridge, Knights Brown and Pegasus Group – everyone has worked tirelessly. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and under very difficult circumstances, I am very pleased to say that the Station has been completed on time and on budget.”
Acting Inspector Sophie Gardner said: “Thames Valley Police is pleased to have a space at this new development in Crowthorne, which is a valuable asset towards our community policing efforts in Berkshire. This new facility will give our officers and staff a space to meet and refresh when working on operations in the area. This also gives us the opportunity to strengthen our partnerships, work even closer and collaborate with our colleagues in the emergency services. Whilst this is not a police front counter that is open to the public, you can be reassured that community policing continues to be a priority across the area. The nearest front counters open to the public for Thames Valley Police are situated in Reading, Slough and Loddon Valley, with services available 24/7 online or by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”Kirsten Willis-Drewett, Head of Operations (Berkshire West) at South Central Ambulance Service, said: “We are very pleased to be celebrating the official opening of Crowthorne Community Fire Station after the challenges for all three services during the pandemic. The new Community Fire Station will enable us to integrate even further with the local community, giving them a space that is available for everyone to use. We are very much looking forward to continuing to share knowledge, experience, and resources with our colleagues at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Thames Valley Police at Crowthorne Community Fire Station.”
COVID control measures: This controlled event was held with social distancing measures in place. Additionally, guests were asked to take a lateral flow test before attending and masks and hand sanitiser were available throughout the site. Where social distancing was not able to be observed for large group photos, they were taken outdoors, allowing for fresh air and contact time was minimised to ensure the event could take place safely.