Work starts on new Rayleigh Weir Fire Station

As construction starts on the new 4.5m Rayleigh Weir Community Fire Station this month, ECFRS is reviewing its options on the future of the existing Rayleigh retained fire station.

The most probable outcome is that the fire station will close with its 13 retained (part-time) firefighters redeployed to other operational and community safety work within the area.

There has been a great deal of rumour and speculation surrounding the future of Rayleigh Fire Station and its retained crew since the announcement that ECFRS was to build a new community fire station at Rayleigh Weir.

Now with contractors Mulalley about to begin work on site and a ground-breaking ceremony scheduled for July 3 a project team will be established to provide a comprehensive analysis with sound reasoning for the final recommendations that will be submitted to the Fire Authority for approval in due course.

The construction of the new fire station has been funded through a public private partnership with Essex Ford. This has delivered excellent value for money from a fire service perspective, as Essex Ford have provided the land free of charge and, additionally, have contributed a significant 'cash' figure to support construction costs.

Construction of the new fire station will provide an opportunity to relocate firefighters from the existing, ageing Hadleigh Fire Station, to a state-of-the-art community fire station. This will provide much improved facilities - both for firefighters and visiting members of the public.

Relocating full time firefighters from the existing Hadleigh Fire Station site – which will close - to the new site at Rayleigh Weir, will achieve a better distribution of emergency response resources. Attendance times in the Rayleigh area will be improved; and attendance times in the Hadleigh area, though increased slightly, will remain consistent with ECFRS's agreed county-wide standards.

The new Rayleigh Weir Community Fire Station will provide immediate access onto the County's arterial road network, improving the ability of firefighters to deal more speedily and efficiently with serious road traffic collisions, and major incidents in other parts of the county.

The new fire station will incorporate a Community Safety Centre, from which fire and other safety information and advice will be freely available – both from the fire service and other, partner safety organisations.

It will also house facilities for operating youth schemes, intended to promote positive behaviour in children and young people who have, for example, had difficulties at school, or have been involved in petty crime and anti-social behaviour.

In addition, the new station will provide facilities to relocate staff from the existing, leased Basildon and Castle Point Community Command HQ. This will save money and will also enable these staff to operate at the heart of the community. The money saved will be freed up to investment in additional community safety activity.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gordon Hunter, Director Operations and Resilience, said: “There has been a great deal of research, discussion and debate relating to both the old and new stations and their crewing arrangements so that we could reach the best possible outcome for the Service and the local community.

“The evaluation of the options will be based on what will prove the best balance between effective service delivery and value for money.

“From outline work that has been completed regarding the probable number of fire calls that the new Rayleigh Weir Community Fire Station will receive, it is important that we are as open and honest in our communications as we can be, which is why I have informed staff that there is every likelihood that ECFRS will recommend to the Fire Authority that we close the existing Rayleigh Retained Fire Station.

“Our recommendation will be to relocate the water tender and the rescue pump, along with the relevant whole-time personnel from Hadleigh to the new fire station

"We have no intention to recommend removal of any posts from our establishment and as part of the evaluation process we will be looking to redeploy these posts.

“The next step will be for a project team to be established to conduct a comprehensive analysis with sound reasoning for the final recommendations that will be submitted to the Fire Authority for approval in due course. This analysis will cover turnout, appliance and crewing options.”

Construction of the new fire station is expected to take a year to build and should be ready for occupation next Summer. It has been designed with a number of environmental features that will support ECFRS' green commitment.