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Fire Authority approves plans to build new station at Headquarters

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority (WYFRA) has today given the go ahead to relocate the fire station in Hightown Road, Cleckheaton, to the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) Headquarters in Birkenshaw.

The decision was made at the Full Authority meeting held today (18/09/2020) and will see an investment of £1.3m to build a new facility which will be closer to the more high risk areas, where fires and other emergencies tend to occur.

The new station will also provide quick access to nearby major road networks for emergencies that occur as a result of road traffic collisions on the M62, M606, A58 and A62 road networks.

The relocation will also bring together the specialist Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) crews with the USAR equipment and training facility that is already hosted at Headquarters.

Over 200 people responded to the recent consultation. The Fire Service found innovative ways to connect with online audiences during the Coronavirus pandemic and held three Facebook live question and answer sessions on the proposals, which reached an audience of 20,000.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Nick Smith said: “We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to give their views on the proposals.

“We are pleased that the Fire Authority has given its approval today for us to go ahead with our plans to build a state-of-the-art fire station which will see improved attendance times in areas we have assessed to be ‘high’ and ‘very high risk,’ meaning it would be closer to those most vulnerable to having a fire.

“Meanwhile, its relocation would still ensure that all areas currently served would still receive a fire engine within our agreed response times.

“The station will offer firefighters the very best of equipment in a modern environment which is also close to the training facilities we already host at Headquarters for our Urban Search and Rescue capability.”

The fire station in Cleckheaton is one of the oldest fire stations in West Yorkshire, constructed in the 1950s, and due to its condition requires a rebuild to avoid expensive repair and ongoing maintenance costs.

Since it was originally built the communities served by the station have evolved and the risks presented by different types of emergencies has also changed.

The relocation will have no impact on staffing numbers or the number of fire engines. Currently 40 staff work at the wholetime station on a rolling shift pattern utilising a fire engine and Technical Rescue Unit.

Rebuilding the existing fire station on its current site would cost approximately £2.9m whereas a rebuild at Fire Service Headquarters would cost approximately £1.3m. Building at Fire Service Headquarters, combined with the sale of the Cleckheaton site, would save £1.975m over the cost of rebuilding on the current site.

Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Darren O’Donovan, added: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has seen a much reduced central Government grant and changing risk profile in our neighbourhoods over the past few years.

“Due to these changes, a huge reconfiguration and modernisation programme was started back in 2010 that has seen changes to fire stations through West Yorkshire.

“The relocation of the Cleckheaton station to our HQ site at Birkenshaw allows us to future proof our service for decades ahead. The relocation will meet the changing risk in the area, provide value for money to the taxpayer and gives our firefighters the most up-to-date facilities.

“Decisions like this are not taken lightly. We’ve considered the consultation feedback from the public and from staff and spent time deliberating over the decision. I am confident that this relocation puts West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in the best position to meet the challenges in the future.”

Background

You can read the entire report on the proposed changes here

The proposal form part of the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2021–22. Since 2010 the Authority has seen a substantial reduction in government funding. The requirement to make savings in the region of £26m has driven a redesign of how our service is delivered.

Since 2010, a series of Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs) have been implemented. The aim of these IRMPs has been to realise financial savings whilst aligning our resources to risk across the county.