Theale Community Fire Station, located on Wigmore Lane, was officially opened yesterday following a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mr. James Puxley, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the Royal County of Berkshire.
The state-of-the-art facility is the third community tri-service station to be opened in the Royal County following the refurbishment of Hungerford Fire Station and the rebuild of Crowthorne in and 2017 and 2020 respectively.
Joining The Lord-Lieutenant in the opening ceremony were Councillor Paul Gittings, Chair Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Kirsten Willis-Drewett, Head of Operations South Central Ambulance Service, and Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The Station has been operational since October 2021 with firefighting crews relocated from Dee Road Fire Station and the closure of Pangbourne Fire Station. Residents will continue to receive the high quality level of service they have become used to from this new facility. Crews at Theale have been attending emergency incidents and providing a valuable service to communities across Berkshire.
Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, the official opening ceremony was postponed.
Commenting on today’s opening, Councillor Paul Gittings, Chair Royal Berkshire Fire Authority said: “Today represents another important milestone for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service as we modernise our buildings. This important work supports the Fire Authority’s commitment towards ensuring that fire stations, and our people and resources are placed at the heart of local communities.
“We are extremely proud to be opening our third tri-service community fire station. It demonstrates our continued commitment towards working collaboratively with our emergency service partners as we continue to make improvements for all Services in the efficient use of public funds.”
Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The Station represents a landmark to be proud of. It has been designed to be easily identifiable and provides an important space for local communities to use.
“Careful consideration was given to the location of Theale Community Fire Station, with the main aim of improving the overall speed of response times to emergency incidents. As such, the Station now offers improved access to major road networks, such as the M4 and A4 corridors, while ensuring emergency vehicles are closer to the surrounding communities.”
Modern and inclusive environment
In addition to community benefits, the new station also offers improved training and welfare facilities for staff, helping to support the workforce of modern public services.
The building has been carefully designed to promote an inclusive working environment for a range of staff from across the fire and rescue service and partner agencies, while providing the flexibility of function that is required in the modern era.
Included in the designs are welfare and physical training areas to support the functional fitness requirements, as well as built-in operational features to support the health and safety of fire crews, such as designated decontamination zones and improved facilities for breathing apparatus equipment to be cleaned.
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley said: “Thames Valley Police is pleased to have space within this development in Theale, allowing us to work alongside our partner agencies to protect and support across Berkshire communities. Theale Community Fire Station provides our officers and staff with the space to collaborate across all emergency organisations, strengthening partnerships and delivering effective services.”
Kirsten Willis-Drewett, Head of Operations, South Central Ambulance Service said: “We’re delighted that Theale Community Fire Station will bring even closer working relationships between local ambulance, fire and rescue and police services. The three emergency services have, of course, always worked closely together during incidents and through community events. In addition to this, all three emergency services will take part in joint training exercises and share expertise in a number of areas, whether this be rescue or casualty care.”
Planning permission for the new station was granted in August 2018 and the unused site was later purchased from its previous owner Network Rail. In January 2020 a groundbreaking ceremony took place and in October the same year the steel superstructure was installed followed by a ‘topping out’ ceremony in March 2021. In October 2021 the process of relocating fleet equipment, IT facilities and staff from Dee Road was completed and Theale Community Fire Station became fully operational.
A key consideration during the construction phase of the Station was to ensure measures were taken to protect the environment and make the building energy efficient.
The new site supports a healthy and vibrant habitat for local species of flora and fauna following the planting of over 900 ground cover plants and over 1,500 native woodland trees and shrubs.
The station also benefits from electric vehicle charging infrastructure, roof-mounted solar panels and a greywater recycling system.