Mixed views over shared-use station

The current Wigan Ambulance Station, Pottery Rd
The current Wigan Ambulance Station, Pottery Rd

FIRE union bosses have expressed concerns about plans for a purpose-built station with the ambulance service in Wigan.

The 3.9m project between Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the selected contractor, Willmott Dixon, is currently in the concept design stage and it is envisaged that building work will start later this year.

The current Wigan Fire Station

The current Wigan Fire Station

The new purpose-built facility - the first in Greater Manchester - will replace the existing fire station in Robin Park Road, Newtown, and will see firefighters and paramedics work side by side from the site.

Gary Keary, Greater Manchester branch security for the Fire Brigade Union, said they were supportive of the plans, but were worried that the fire service may be sidelined. He added: “We have some initial concerns about the project being built more for the ambulance service and the fire service was an after-thought.

“We need to make sure it is right for the fire service and it has adequate space and training facilities.

“But we have no major objections and as we are collaborating more and more with the ambulance service, attending cardiac arrests, it is a good idea.

“We already have a joint collaboration in Irlam, with fire, police and paramedics, but this will be the first purpose-built facility in Greater Manchester.”

As a result, the current ambulance station, in Pottery Road, Wigan, will close once the new site opens.

It is believed the plans have been discussed behind closed doors for more than a year.

NWAS director of operations, Derek Cartwright, said: “This is an extremely exciting and positive venture for our two organisations.

“NWAS already very successfully shares premises with both fire and police colleagues throughout the region but the design concepts for this particular site herald a new model of working for the trust.

“We are very much looking forward to following the progress on this project and have worked closely with our staff and union representatives to ensure it fulfils all of their expectations.”

Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Coun David Acton, said: “The project will allow us to further improve our relationship as well as make financial savings over the years.

“The community fire station will be an important part of the local community and will include a room for use by community partners, groups and adult education providers and a gymnasium.”

It is hoped that the project will see GMFRS and NWAS achieve a superior Building Research Establishment Environmental Method (BREEAM) accreditation.”