Fire stations of the world: Aberystwyth Fire Station in Ceredigion, Wales in the UK
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) in the UK hosted the official opening of its brand new Community Fire Station in Aberystwyth on Thursday, 13 October 2016. The state of the art development, undertaken by Carmarthenshire developers WRW Group, is located on the former station’s ground at Penparcau Road, Trefechan. The new two-storey building incorporates three fire appliance bays, office accommodation for Ceredigion County Command as well as community facilities, including a cafe, which will be open to the public. The new £1,6 million Community Fire Station facility boasts many pioneering qualities, which includes being built to a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).
The Aberystwyth area has an approximate population of 33 000 and the station provides emergency response to the town itself and neighbouring communities of Llanbadarn Fawr, Capel Bangor, Ponterwyd, Borth, Bow Street, Talybont, Treddol, and Llanrystud. Based at the station are the command and administrative teams along with whole time personnel supported by On Call crews.
Chris Davies, MAWWFRS Chief Fire Officer, said, “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is delighted to deliver this brand new facility to the community of Aberystwyth. This innovative fire station reflects the evolving role that the Fire and Rescue Service plays in emergency response and community safety work. Incorporating three fire appliance bays, Ceredigion County Command offices, a Blood Bike base and a community cafe, this fire station truly is a community resource fit for the 21st Century and able to adapt to the challenges of the future. It was a pleasure to hear the children’s choir sing at the opening and a privilege to welcome students from Ysgol Llwyn yr Eos, Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth, Plascrug Community School and St Padarn’s Primary School, who have their art work displayed at the new station, here today. We are grateful to the TA Centre for accommodating the temporary station whilst the building of the new station took place.”
Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, said, “I am pleased that the Authority has involved the community in designing, constructing and operating the station. This approach has involved pupils from local schools and students from Aberystwyth University and Coleg Ceredigion as well as providing valuable work to local contractors.
“Our fire fighters undertake difficult and sometimes dangerous work and deserve the best possible facilities and support. This state-of-the-art facility certainly meets those standards. It will also mean fire fighters can keep in close touch with the communities they serve and protect. This will help keep local people safe from fires and other hazards.”
Jon Williams, Business Development Director for WRW, said, “We have enjoyed bringing our own expertise to the fore to help realise the potential of the scheme. Now operational, we hope the facility goes on to become a cornerstone of the community and that it allows MAWWFRS to continue its excellent service provision for the locality.”
The existing Fire Station was originally ear‐marked for development at the turn of the century. In 2009, Lawray Architects were commissioned to carry out feasibility studies to investigate moving the existing site to a new location within the town. Various candidate sites were identified but discounted. In 2012, further feasibility studies were developed to provide cost options to either refurbish or demolish and re-build the station on the existing site. The schemes overall objective was to enhance efficiency while improving the working environment for its inhabitants and create an innovative and modern ‘community’ fire station, offering services to the general public and community groups.
Planning constraints were limited due to the existing use, the only constraint being flood risk analysis at the time due to an exceptionally poor winter whereby the town was subject to major storm surge resulting in major flooding. This act of nature placed strong importance on material selection for the newly designed building and where possible to utilise traditional and robust materials to withstand the tidal and coastal exposure. The method of construction created a balance between speed and robustness. Robustness for the garage and mess facilities and lightweight construction to other areas. The 54 week programme was met through careful contractor selection and a robust set of construction details. The new facility boasts many pioneering qualities, which includes being built to BREEAM Excellent standards. The projects is classed as ‘exemplar’ by Construction Excellence in Wales through waste minimisation and diverted 99.4 percent from landfill during the demolition and construction phases. The fully inclusive design ensures that the station creates a community hub where members of the public are invited to drop in and discuss relevant fire safety issues.
Sources: Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS), Ceredigion Herald, Lawray Architects