A new fire station and training centre in Huntingdon has moved a step closer with the submission of plans to build the facility at the St John’s Park business area north of the town.
The scheme, which has just gone before Huntingdonshire District Council, would lead to the replacement of the town’s present fire station and provide a major upgrade to training for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.
If the plan gets the go-ahead it would have a knock-on effect on St Ives fire station which would become the base for one on-call fire engine and would lose its occupational health and secondary control facility roles.
The cost of the new fire station and training centre, on a section of scrub land, is not being revealed at this stage because it is in the tender process but it would be funded from the sale of the present Hartford Road site and reserves.
Councillor Kevin Reynolds, chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority said: “We have submitted planning permission for a new service training centre and fire station for Huntingdon to replace the site on Hartford Road.
“We have been seeking to improve our operational training for a number of years and have relied on other services to provide venues in order for our operational staff to get realistic scenarios.
“Although these have proved to be effective, we want to ensure we are able to give our staff the best possible facilities locally, and having our own venue within the county will allow us to do this, with reduced travel time and costs.”
Cllr Reynolds said: “Our current training centre site in Hartford Road is no longer fit for purpose for a modern fire and rescue service. Training is an essential part of the job for all of our operational staff to ensure they are competent and highly skilled to be able to deal safely and effectively with the many and varied incidents we get called to.”
Cllr Reynolds added: “We are very excited about the new building and the opportunities it will provide us.
“The site on Hartford Road will be sold once the new building is fully operational and the remainder of the cost will be met with money in our reserves which has been accrued for this purpose.”
Five years ago the fire service had advanced plans to develop an adjacent site but the then Police and Crime Commissioner stepped in with an alternative plan for combined police and fire facilities which brought it to a halt.
Documents submitted with the plan said: “The objectives of relocating the fire station and training centre are focussed on providing a modern and fit for purpose station and training facility that will meet both current and future requirements.
“The service has been through a period of significant change in its operational workforce – if the turnover in workforce is combined with the decline in the number of operational incidents, the requirement for a new training centre is evident.
“In summary, the service is seeking to provide a fit for purpose fire station and training facility that will provide the most effective, reliable and realistic operational training for all operational firefighters. The new facility will also provide much needed capacity to enable the fire service to train more firefighters more often than it is able to facilitate on the existing site.”
The application said: “If the application site at St John’s Park comes forward the fire station at St Ives would become a site for one on-call appliance only.
“St Ives also currently accommodates the occupational health function and secondary control facility and if approved St John’s would accommodate the occupational health team, with the secondary control being relocated to Dogsthorpe in Peterborough to enhance its resilience.”