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Construction begins on Merseyside Fire & Rescue state of the art Training Academy and National Centre of Excellence

Construction work has begun on Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority’s new multi-pump Fire & Rescue Station, state of the art Training Academy, and National Resilience Centre of Excellence in the heart of the community.

The development will improve operational response times and enable MFRS to plan effectively and efficiently against foreseeable risk and emerging threats, providing outstanding facilities for a diverse range of operational and support staff to develop and maintain their skills.

The build, situated in the heart of the community on a 12-acre site on Long Lane, Aintree, will be completed by mid-2024 by Wates Construction, who were awarded the contract having produced first-class fire stations at Prescot and most recently St. Helens.

The construction of the new facility is the keystone of the Authority’s vision to be the best fire & rescue service in the UK and for the people of Merseyside, with response times reduced significantly across the area.

Group Manager Dave Watson, MFRS lead for the project said:

“We are delighted and incredibly proud that construction work has commenced on the new site. When the build is completed, it will ensure we have highly skilled and trained people who plan for identified risk and keep our teams safe and effective.

“This new Training and Development Academy project is the largest infrastructure project we have ever undertaken and represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority.”

The progressive vision for the facility will include immersive, realistic training zones that can be adapted to train for any foreseeable risk including high-rise, marine, flooding, motorway and train incidents. The site will also include a 4-bay fire station offering 24-hour emergency response to the surrounding area and a National Resilience Centre of Excellence at the heart of the facility.

This will house staff from the National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT), International Search and Rescue team (ISAR) and secondary Fire Control, embedding National Resilience into the DNA of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.

The multifunctional site will enable MFRS to implement a multitude of incident scenarios at the same time, exponentially improving the Service’s ability to train against foreseeable risk and emerging threats in conditions as close to real incidents as possible.

GM Watson continued: “In recent years, the built environment has become a critically important area of work for the emergency services, with a constantly changing urban landscape presenting new risks, which we must train for.

This is in addition to the potential risks presented by marine incidents, wildfires, flooding, large waste fires and terrorist related incidents. Merseyside presents a range of further challenges, with an extensive coastline, shipping and docks, an airport, busy road and rail networks, tunnels and heritage sites.

This new facility will give the firefighters of Merseyside an opportunity to train in realistic and immersive environments to ensure they are ready for any challenge.”

The Long Lane site will feature a six-storey high-rise building, a row of terraced houses, a motorway setting, specialist vehicle garages, a High Volume Pump (HVP) training area and a suite of practical training classrooms. A purpose built command and control suite will enable scope to train for a range of incidents, simulating small scale incidents through to major incidents involving multiple agencies.

Designed to be accessible to all, the new location will also offer staff well-being facilities, youth engagement facilities and meeting rooms for community use to ensure a lasting legacy in the heart of the community MFRS serves, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

The environmental impact of the site has been considered carefully. Air source heat pumps and photovoltaic panels will provide energy, with an ultimate commitment to achieving zero carbon for the site moving forward. Twenty-three electric vehicle charging points will be included within the car parking spaces and a number of green measures have been incorporated into the site including biodiversity improvement measures and the planting of over 150 mature trees.

Sarah Cooke, regional director for the North West at Wates Construction, said: “This training academy marks our fifth project with MFRS and we’re proud to once again be bringing state-of-the-art facilities to frontline workers.

“We’ve carefully considered every aspect of the scheme to prioritise sustainability – both in delivery, and long-term operation – and as with all our sites, we’re working hard to ensure the wider Merseyside community benefits from MFRS’ investment through education opportunities and local spend.”

Through the commencement of these exciting and forward-thinking plans, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service continues to deliver improvements to frontline services, cementing the ambition to be the best Fire & Rescue Service in the country, whilst ensuring the safety of firefighters and the public.

For free fire safety advice, or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for those over 65 or meeting certain criteria.