Fire stations of the world: Theale Community Fire Station in Berkshire officially opened, UK
A new, state-of-the-art community fire station has been built in Theale, West Berkshire, UK. Theale is a tri-service community station, offering a shared location for Fire, Police and Ambulance under one roof. Work on the new station got underway in early 2020 and despite the many challenges posed by COVID-19, progress continued at a good pace and in a safe manner and crews relocated from Dee Road to the new site at the start of September 2021. While crews have relocated, the work is ongoing to finalise the station by moving in all the remaining teams, ahead of the formal opening ceremony.
The Theale Community Fire Station was formally opened by Mr James Puxley, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the Royal County of Berkshire on Thursday, 20 October 2022. Theale is a tri-service community station, offering a shared location for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), Thames Valley Police (TVP) and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).
The station has been operational since October 2021, when fire fighting crews were relocated from Dee Road Fire Station. However, the opening ceremony was postponed until this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The station includes a bookable meeting space for the community, accessed via a lift, making the facilities fully accessible for all users.
The station has been designed to be easily identifiable and space that the community can come to and directly make use of, as well as being a landmark to be proud of.
As well as the community benefits, the new station offers improved training and welfare facilities, which will help support the workforce of modern public services.
The building design promotes an inclusive working environment for a range of staff from across the Service and its partners. The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service built a space that encourages and accommodates a wide range of users. This includes facilities that meet the needs of the growing diversity across staff and guests as well as providing the flexibility of function that is required in the modern era.
They have considered the growing pressures and risks to their staff in the work that they carry out and have included welfare and physical training areas to support the functional fitness requirements of an aging workforce as well as building in operational features to support health, such as designated decontamination zones and improved facilities for breathing apparatus equipment to be cleaned.
Protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions have been key priorities in the build of this station and it has been designed in a way to be as energy efficient as possible with the inclusion of solar panels across the roof. The station site as a whole also supports a healthy and vibrant habitat for local species of flora and fauna. Following the removal of significant levels of ground contamination, the revitalised site now includes the planting of over 900 ground cover plants and over 1 500 native woodland trees and shrubs. Looking to the future, electric vehicle charging points will be installed in line with our strategic direction.
The station also supports the outcomes of the 2017 Service Redesign public consultation. During this consultation, the public’s preferred options included the closure Pangbourne Fire Station, subject to the opening of Theale Community Fire Station. Residents will continue to receive the high quality level of service they have become used to from this new, modern, fit for purpose facility. On this basis, the Pangbourne site will no longer be providing an emergency response from 1 November and a small ceremony was held for Pangbourne fire fighters and past serving colleagues to say thank you for their contributions to serving the people of Royal Berkshire. The defibrillator that was available to use at the front of Pangbourne Fire Station will be relocated to outside St Bernadette’s Church on Horseshoe Road, Pangbourne, at the end of November 2021. A new defibrillator has also been fitted to the Theale Community Fire Station.
Theale Community Fire Station is a significant step forward in meeting the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s plan to modernise the fire and rescue service’s buildings to ensure a suitable, community-based fire stations is provided to residents across the County of Royal Berkshire. It demonstrates the commitment to ensure that fire stations, people and resources are placed firmly at the heart of the local communities being served.
Throughout the project they engaged with their own staff and those of partner services that will be working from the new blue light hub, to ensure that their training and welfare needs will be fully met through the new station and have, when possible, invited them onto site to see the progress made.
The costs of running the site will be reduced due to efficient building methods and installation of solar panels to reduce environmental impact.
Theale Community Fire Station has a modern design, identifiable and transparent, which will place the new station at the heart of the community.
As a tri-service community fire station, RBFRS fire fighters and TVP’s Neighbourhood Policing Team will be based on site, together with staff from SCAS who will be able to use the station’s facilities when on standby. As well as operational fire fighters from Dee Road Fire Station, staff from other departments will be based on site.
Since October 2021, crews at Theale have been attending emergency incidents and providing a valuable service to communities across Berkshire. Located at Wigmore Lane, the new state-of-the-art facility is the third community tri-service station to be opened in the Royal County.
In a speech made during the official opening ceremony Kirsten Willis-Drewett, Head of Operations, South Central Ambulance Service said, "May I wish every success with the official opening of the Theale Community Fire Station." Councillor Paul Gittings, Chair Royal Berkshire Authority added: “We are extremely proud to be opening our third tri-service community fire station. It demonstrates our continued commitment towards working collaboratively with our emergency service partners as we continue to make improvements for all Services in the efficient use of public funds.”
Before cutting the ribbon to mark the opening, the Lord-Lieutenant mentioned that he recently met the King and Queen Consort and said, "They are totally committed to the well-being of everyone in this country and especially the emergency services."
Sources: Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service