Work starts next week on a major programme to transform how fire and rescue services will be provided across Cheshire in the future.
The programme was developed following extensive public consultation and involves building four new fire stations, keeping virtually the same number of fire engines but changing how some of them are crewed.
Planning permission has now been granted for all of the new stations and next week sees contractors starting work on building the first one at Alsager.
The site in Brookhouse Road, Alsager is a former council depot and was bought by Cheshire Fire Authority from Cheshire East Council.
The near £1 million scheme is due to be completed by July next year, with recruitment already underway for the part-time or on-call firefighters who will be based there. Meanwhile, five companies are being invited to bid for a single contract worth an estimated £13 million to build the three further stations, one of which is integrated with an innovative safety centre.
Work on those stations at Penketh, Powey Lane near the M56 and near the motorway interchange at Lymm is expected to start in the New Year and take up to 15 months to complete.
“This is the start of an exciting programme which will ensure we can continue to protect communities across Cheshire despite the financial challenges we are facing,” said Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock.
“The investment in new stations together with changing how some fire engines are staffed means we will be able to make more efficient and effective use of our emergency response services in the future.”
Fire Authority Chair Cllr. John Joyce added: “I am delighted that our ambitious programme of new stations is starting in earnest and I am confident that the overall programme will help us to continue the major reductions in fire and injuries we have achieved in recent years.”
Full details of the programme and other projects to improve the effectiveness of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service are set out in the organisation’s draft action plan for 2015-16.
Formal consultation on the statutory document – known as an integrated risk management plan – is now underway.
A series of 12 community roadshows start shortly to publicise the programme and allow people to comment on the Fire Authority’s future budget and any new proposals – full details on the website – www.cheshirefire.gov.uk