Fire station replacement a long way off

Fire station replacement a long way off

23 November 2011

THERE is no likelihood of Down District’s three fire stations being replaced in the near future, it has been confirmed.

The Fire and Rescue Service has said while bases in Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Newcastle are all in need of replacement, there is currently no money to finance the projects.

The local bases are included in a Province-wide list of 26 fire stations which need to be replaced, but the Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed it only has money to replace bases in Rathfriland and Omagh during the current financial year.

Last week, Newcastle councillor Patrick Clarke suggested fire chiefs should explore the possibility of moving its Valentia Place base in the resort to a site nearby in Donard Street formerly occupied by Newcastle College.

A spokeswoman for the Fire and Rescue Service said the Newcastle politician requested a meeting with the organisation to view a potential site on Donard Street as a location for a new Fire Station.

She said the organisation’s capital projects manager met with the local politician on November 8 for an “early exploratory meeting to look at the site.”

The spokeswoman said while the organisation appreciates Councillor Clarke’s support in suggesting Donard Street as a potential location, further exploratory work would have to be carried out before this site could be progressed to a more detailed feasibility study.

She continued: “Newcastle fire station is one of 26 identified by the Fire and Rescue Service as needing replaced. However, the organisation is currently operating within a very tight capital budget allocation of £4.5m for the current financial year.

“Our two priority capital projects for this year are the essential reconstruction of Rathfriland fire station and a new community fire station in Omagh.”

The spokeswoman said the Fire and Rescue Service is in a period of capital rationing and, just like all other public bodies, has had to prioritise its capital projects within the budget allocated.

She added: “We have other high priority fire stations which need replaced due to ageing estate. We are continuing to work on business cases for these rebuilds in readiness, should any further money be made available for capital projects.”