Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s (MFRS) newest fire station has been officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside.
The doors of St Helens Community Fire Station – which became operational in October 2020 – were opened to local councillors and dignitaries on Thursday 21st October as part of the official opening ceremony.
It ensures the best possible response times to the communities of St Helens, with the unused land at Pilkington Glass’ Watson Street site transformed into the state-of-the-art three engine bay station, with two additional bays for our hazmat (hazardous materials) unit and foam pod.
Since it became operational in 2020 the crews have responded to 1,535 incidents, including 60 accidental dwelling fires, 55 road traffic collisions and 463 deliberate secondary fires. Crews have also dealt with eight animal rescues, 19 flooding incidents and have assisted other agencies 89 times*.
Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “Our vision is to be the best Fire & Rescue Service in the UK. With that in mind the location of St Helens Community Fire Station means we are able to maintain some of the fastest response times in the country and protect the safety of the communities we serve – a key factor of the changes.
“Our new station also ensures we have the very best training facilities and equipment to keep the people of St Helens and Merseyside safe, it is crucial that our firefighters have a place from which to plan, train, respond and recover following the rigours of the role, this station provides just that. Our crews and frontline staff are totally committed to the public and should be provided with the very best facilities to undertake that role.
“I am incredibly proud of the teams in St Helens having worked closely with them over many years. They have done fantastically over the last 18 months as we, and the wider public have faced some extremely challenging times.
“They have served with courage, integrity and with compassion, not only to respond to emergencies, but to also work alongside local charities and community groups to help deliver food, medicine and other essential items to those who were unable to leave their homes at the height of the pandemic.”
The fire station includes operational and welfare accommodation, a community meeting room, officers and training facilities, including an external drill area and four-storey training tower.
As well as firefighters, the station is also home to arson prevention teams, Protection teams and Youth Engagement teams including Fire Cadets.
Chief Garrigan added: “This development would never have gotten out the ground if it had it not been for Wates Construction. They were exceptionally supportive throughout the entire construction process and went above and beyond to ensure the station was completed and ready to go operational on time, despite the obvious challenges faced as a result of the pandemic.”
Attendees of Thursday’s event were welcomed by the Chair of the Fire Authority Les Byrom and given a brief overview of the development process by Gavin Davis, Operations Director of Wates Construction. Guests were also able to watch a training demonstration by St Helens’ finest firefighters.
As well as marking the station’s opening, Thursday also saw the planting of a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Platinum Jubilee celebrations, as well as a presentation to children from Holy Cross Primary School who designed a mosaic on display at the front of the station.
Chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, Cllr Les Byrom, added: “It was fantastic to have St Helens Community Fire Station officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Mr Mark Blundell. This fire station is state-of-the-art and is equipped with the facilities that our firefighters, and the community they serve, rightly deserve. The official opening has been the culmination of a lengthy consultation process and it is a pleasure to see the outcome.”
Gavin Davis, Operations Director of Wates Construction, said: “Wates are immensely proud to deliver St Helens Community Fire Station and continue our successful relationship with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. This is the fourth state of the art fire station that Wates has delivered for our Customer and I am extremely impressed with the quality achieved by our team on site. For myself as a resident of St Helens, I couldn’t be prouder of the build and what this will mean for my local area having seen the positive impacts made by the previous three stations to their communities.”
Planning permission was granted in March 2019, with construction work commencing in August that same year. The official opening ceremony of the station was delayed until now due to the pandemic.