HRH Earl of Wessex has officially opened Sandyford Community Fire Station in Stoke-on-Trent.
HRH was given a tour of the station by Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, Peter Dartford and met firefighters based at the station and staff involved in the station build. He also met junior firefighters, the local residents association, pupils from three nearby primary schools, and a group who use the station’s gym facilities on a weekly basis. At the end of the tour HRH unveiled a plaque marking the official opening of the station and signed a visitor’s book as a record of his visit.
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Peter Dartford said: “We are extremely proud of the new station and more importantly what it means to the communities we serve. This building represents a completely new way for our services to be delivered and provides a model for others to follow in the future. This station is not simply a brighter, shinier version of what we had always expected a fire station to be – this is truly a community facility that happens to have fire engines parked in the bays – something that local people are using for a range of activities.
Before unveiling the plaque HRH Earl of Wessex said: “I’ve been to a number of fire stations, but nothing quite like this one, it’s quite a departure from the norm as far as fire and rescue services go. This is a community fire station and not just one the community can use.”
Group Manager Wayne Bowcock said: “It was a great privilege to meet HRH, he took a real interest in the station and everyone he met. He asked lots of questions and he seemed genuinely impressed with the station and everything it represents.”
Firefighters moved into the new community fire station, which comes complete with state of the art training and professional development facilities, in October 2010. The station is crewed around the clock by 28 firefighters working over four shifts.
The station has been designed to provide a range of facilities for the local community and partners to use, including a community meeting room, a dedicated area for student firefighters, a gym for supervised groups and a partnership area. Over 20 groups and organisations including Age UK, Arch, North Staffordshire Cancer Support, Scouts and Foster Carers Support Group are now using the facilities on a regular basis. Over 1000 members of the public visited the station within its first week of opening.