New Fire Station plan for Hebburn
Plans for a new fire station in Hebburn could be revealed next year.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is working on a feasibility study to replace the current station.
Hebburn Fire Station is facing an uncertain future, with cost-cutting plans announced last month which could see the station downgraded.
The service’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Robson told a meeting in Sunderland: “There’s £5m set aside for the building of a new fire station at Hebburn. The current one was built in the late 1930s or early 1940s, which costs us more and the facilities aren’t the best.
“We’re trying to create a sustainable service to manage the decline of resources and give us the safest possible service.”
A package of plans is being considered by TWFRS which, if all were approved, could save more than £3m by 2021/22.
In Hebburn, this could see the station’s fire engine manned by a part-time crew of ‘on-call’ firefighters who live or work within five minutes during the day.
At night, support would be provided by crews from South Shields.
A heavy rescue appliance based at the station could also be moved to South Shields Community Fire Station.
The £5m planned to build a new fire station is earmarked to come from TWFRS’s savings, with the feasibility study expected to be completed by the end of the current financial year.
ACFO Robson told the meeting the figure was based on the amount spent on Marley Park Community Fire Station, in Sunderland.
But he also said any cash left over from this could potentially be used to plug gaps in the brigade’s finances.
He added: “The fire authority can choose to pause or stop any element of this work.
“If the feasibility report comes back and the station is going to cost a lot less, the fire authority can decide if it wants to use that money to contribute or delay implementation.”
He also revealed the new station could be shared with other emergency services, but that while they would probably help pay for the building’s upkeep, they would not necessarily contribute to its construction.
As well as changes to how stations are manned, the proposals, which are out for public consultation until January 14, could also see up to 70 jobs cut from the service, although it has said it does not expect to have to make any redundancies to achieve this.
Summing up TWFRS’s financial position, ACFO Robson said: “Austerity, for us, started to kick in about 2010/11 and over the proceeding years our revenue support grant [from the government] started to reduce.
“That’s a strategy the government has had to make local authorities and fire authorities more dependent on local funding.
“In terms of cash reductions, we’ve seen a reduction of £11.3m, equivalent of 19 per cent of our cash budget.”
He added increases in cost pressures had led to a decrease in spending power of almost a quarter.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service