Emergency hub is officially opened

Andy Burnham opening the Wigan Community Fire and Ambulance Station
Andy Burnham opening the Wigan Community Fire and Ambulance Station

The ribbon has been cut to officially open Wigan’s “world class” community fire and  ambulance station.

A ceremony was held at the hub on Robin Park Road, Newtown, yesterday morning to mark the occasion.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor for policing and crime, joined staff from the fire and ambulance services at the station.

Also in attendance were pupils from nearby St Mark’s CE Primary School, who were given a tour of the building before taking part in the opening ceremony.

Fellow pupils attended a steel signing ceremony last year during the construction work.

Firefighters and paramedics are now working side-by-side for the first time in Wigan and sharing the station.

Mr Burnham, who was previously MP for Leigh, said it was facilities like the station that would get people talking about Greater Manchester.

He said: “Wigan is breaking down the silos between the different public services, bringing people together, asking people to work differently to support the community out there and that’s what this amazing new community is all about - bringing our fire service and ambulance service together.

“I think it’s great that we are here to celebrate that.”

Mr Burnham praised everyone involved in the new station and thanked the emergency service workers for their efforts.

Ms Hughes said firefighters and paramedics working together was already having an impact on their response to incidents and people across Greater Manchester wanted to learn from that.

She said: “Wigan, you are leading the way again.”

Fire crews started working at the new station in June and were joined by 150 ambulance staff in September.

The state-of-the-art building replaced the old fire station on the same site and sees firefighters and paramedics sharing facilities, including the meeting rooms, rest area, kitchen and dining area, and locker rooms.

A community area, with a separate entrance, has rooms available for public use, an internet cafe and a gym.

The centre also replaced the ambulance stations in Wigan, Standish, Hindley, Atherton and Billinge, with staff moving into the new hub.

Derek Cartwright, chief executive of North West Ambulance Service, said: “This is an excellent facility. It’s a world-class operational site. It’s the first one we have purposely built in the North West region and we are going to look at it as a model to see how we can develop other sites in the North West.”

He said the money saved by closing the five former stations could be used for frontline services instead.

Geoff Harris, director of prevention and protection for Greater Manchester Fire And Rescue Service, said: “A colleague based here told me they are already seeing the benefits.

"They will go to a car crash, work with the ambulance service and come back to the same space with the same people. They can talk about what worked and didn’t and how to do things better.

“Just being in the same space enables all these other things that ultimately mean both services respond better.”