There has been concern as highlighted in recent media coverage regarding issues in buildings where reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was used as a construction material.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has conducted a preliminary investigation into the presence of RAAC across its entire estate.
RBFRS identified several fire stations that had the potential for RAAC due to the age of the building and construction type. Structural engineers were instructed to complete a more invasive assessment at four buildings where RAAC was suspected following initial internal investigation. For 48 hours, whilst the Service awaited the attendance of a structural engineer at Wokingham Road Fire Station in Reading, crews started and finished their shifts from the neighbouring station in Caversham Road.
All four sites have now been assessed by external qualified engineers and are deemed to be safe for occupation and use. Some further specialist testing is required on an internal section of a training tower at Newbury Fire Station. An alternative training facility is available for use while this remains out of use.
Councillor Jeff Brooks, Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority said: “It was right for the Service to be proactive and act swiftly to ensure the structural integrity of our buildings and protect the safety of our staff. The work undertaken has provided us with reassurance that we can continue to operate from the right locations to provide an outstanding service to residents across Berkshire. This was highlighted by an improvement to our overall response time during 2022/23, reducing the average time it takes to respond to emergencies by 22 seconds, when compared to a decade ago (2012/13).
“The Fire Authority continues to invest in the estate and equipment to strengthen our capability to respond to communities across Berkshire.”