Cambridgeshire Fire Service weighing up plan to share new Huntingdon headquarters


- Credit: Archant

Talks are under way that could see two emergency services move out of Huntingdon town centre and into a new purpose built shared facility.

The Hunts Post revealed last year that Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service are planning to build a new £7million headquarters in St John’s Business Park but it has been announced that the air ambulance organisation Magpas could also relocate its service to the site.

A report to the Cambridgeshire Fire Authority on February 11 said that discussions have begun between the two organisations and that “Magpas are keen to collaborate with the service in a joint venture”.

Magpas chief executive Daryl Brown told The Hunts Post: “We are in discussions with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service about co-locating our service with theirs. We have not decided whether our headquarters will be moved but this is a possibility that we are exploring.”

If the plans are given the go ahead it could also see Magpas move its vehicle base to the new site following its search for a new location before the closure of the RAF Wyton airfield in 2019.

Mr Brown added: “This is an exciting opportunity, however, these discussions are in the initial stages and we are also considering other locations.

“We are continuing to weigh up options to find a location and site that best suits the needs of our patients and will allow us to continue providing our critical lifesaving care into the future.”

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Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service are also in talks with another “relevant” organisation about the possibility of sharing the new site but have confirmed that the party “would not want to be named at this stage”.

It is proposed that a contract for the land will be signed this month and work will start later this year.

A spokesman for the service said: “If everything goes to plan, we would hope to be moved in by early 2018.”

The news comes as the organisation has voted to share area commanders with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The proposal will see the implementation of a shared rota between the two services that would require those involved in the plan to provide cover across both counties in emergency situations.

This will mean that there will always be an area commander available to attend an emergency situation either within one or four hours and the rest would be available for recall to duty at all times.

The spokesman said: “We currently have three area commanders in Cambridgeshire and these arrangements, whilst not reducing the numbers at this time, will provide a more resilient service in the event of a large scale incident in either county.”

Despite this a report provided to the Fire Authority has stated that the new system will support the loss of one area commander and will help with the savings of £3million that the service needs to make in the next three to four years.

The report states: “The arrangement would support the reduction on an area commander and associated cost savings.”

However it was presented to the fire authority that this new system would only be cost effective if officers are prepared to respond for 78 hours per weeks, will some of these being voluntary.

Concerns were also raised at the meeting on February 11 that response times by area commanders to incident scenes would be longer if it were not in the commander’s base location.

The arrangement was approved by the Fire Authority last month but it is subject to necessary arrangements being made with Bedfordshire.

It is anticipated it will come into force later this year which could pave the way for further collaboration between the services.