Shrewsbury Fire HQ

A plan of the refurbished fire HQ

Plans to refurbish Shropshire's "dilapidated" fire HQ in a "watered down" scheme set to save the taxpayer £6 million, took a step further today.

Architects drawings along with a planning application have been made to Shropshire County Council for the development which was originally estimated to cost more than £10 million with a move to a totally new HQ in Shrewsbury.

But members of Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority insisted instead on the cost saving option of a total refurbishment of the existing "run down" station in St Michael Street, Shrewsbury.

At a reduced cost of £4 million, it represented "good value for money" for the people of Shropshire, said Fire Authority chairman Stuart West.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond said the fire authority had chosen this "watered down" solution to ensure taxpayers got the "best possible deal" and that firefighters still had accommodation suitable for the 21st century.

"It is the most cost effective and operationally efficient solution for the long term."

A total of £2.5 million is already available through Government grants and by cost savings made by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service over the past three years to pay towards the development.

"The burden on the taxpayer in future years has therefore been kept to a minimum," said Mr West.

Fire officers will move into rented offices while the work is carried out with the ground floor of the current HQ being altered slightly to accommodate station personnel during the works.

The current station will then be completely refurbished to a modern, cost effective standard and an extension will be built on one side to solve the overcrowding problem.

Workshops will be refurbished to meet modern safety standards with staff temporarily relocating to Minsterley or Tweedale fire stations for up to eight months.

The development will boost the local economy and provide jobs in the building industry while improving the environment along one of the main access routes into Shrewsbury.

"We have spent the past six months talking to our teams about what they need in our new building and now that design plans have been produced we can liaise with all our neighbours to discuss the plans in more detail," added the Chief Fire Officer.

Shrewsbury fire station was identified as "old and dilapidated" and in need of urgent refurbishment in 2006. Firefighters had very little training room and vehicle workshops needed modernisation.

7th August, 2009