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Wates Hand Over Year 1 of Cheshire Fire Authority’s Station Modernisation Programme

Wates has completed year 1 of a 5 year refurbishment of 19 fire stations across Cheshire to modernise facilities for Cheshire Fire Authority.

The existing fire stations have been reviewed as part of the estates condition survey to develop a programme of refurbishment works which will allow Cheshire Fire Authority to deliver their services and meet the needs of the community.

In order to reduce disruption to the fire service and to ensure continuity of service, the programme is split into phases:

Year 1: Runcorn, Middlewich, Birchwood and Sandbach – the improved stations will serve as important community hubs and provide flexible spaces which can also be used by staff and community groups.

Year 2: Widnes, Holmes Chapel, Northwich and Audlem

Year 3:
Malpas, Congleton, Ellesmere Port and Knutsford

Year 4:
Winsford, Frodsham, Poynton and Macclesfield

Year 5:
Nantwich, Wilmslow and Stockton Heath

Wates have worked closely with Cheshire Fire Authority to support them in their vision of “no deaths, injuries or damage from fires or other emergencies”. The team focused on initiatives where real differences can be made and strengthen relationships with customers, supply chain partners and the local community.

The fire stations were delivered during COVID-19 delivering £413k of social value which included supporting Apprentices, Local Labour, College Engagement and supporting Social Enterprises who trade to tackle social problems.

Ben Marsh, Apprentice Electrician: “I enjoyed working through lockdown because I was able to carry on learning and improving on site, I also felt safe on site. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to help refurbish a building used by the Cheshire Fire Authority and do my part.”

The stations remained operational which brought many logistical challenges, the
priority was to ensure that the existing stations continue to safely respond to important emergency calls as required.

All sites were on constant call out; there was no disturbances to the daily operations of the fire stations, the team all shared the same passion to ensure key workers were able to perform their daily duties as they had before with Wates continuing construction and Cheshire Fire & Rescue responding to emergencies. This was managed in collaboration via various risk mitigation strategies and careful programme management to reduce any impact on services.

Sean Fleming, Site Manager (Middlewich Station): “The passion shown by the fire service for safety was second to none – they were so helpful and a pleasure to work for.”

The fire stations were handed over in early June 2020. In the midst of the delivery of the stations the COVID pandemic hit, Wates paused all sites across the country for 48 hours in order to develop a group wide strategy and set of revised procedures to safely re-open sites following the lockdown implementation, ensuring that the highest levels of productivity was maintained whilst complying with the strict requirements of social distancing at the earliest possible opportunity. The teams worked under new site operating procedures to ensure the stations were delivered for Cheshire Fire Authority on time and adapted.

Andy Selley, Maintenance and Property Manager, Cheshire Constabulary: “The feedback we have received has been amazing, what we have managed to deliver on the fire stations, the transformation is very dramatic and hearing words like ‘it looks like a brand-new fire station.’ high praise. Also impressed with how we managed to continue and deliver on time in such difficult circumstances”.

Sarah Seabright, Framework Manager commented on the project: “Year one of the modernisation programme and Wates first projects to be delivered through the Procure Partnerships Framework. The team should all be proud of the work and dedication they have shown from the initial scope to handover, dealing with each challenge head on. It also brought our key workers together and the team are now in year two continuing to accommodate Cheshire Fire’s requirements, turning four more of their fire stations into quality establishments that realise their vision and enhance communities”.

Robbie Blackhurst, Framework Director at Procure Partnerships Framework, commented on the project: “The programme of modernisation is incredibly important to Cheshire Fire Authority and the communities the stations serve. By developing the programme of works in this way, it is anticipated that we can implement efficiencies and continuous learning across the projects to benefit the overall budget and design, and to ensure a high-value solution is developed for the people of Cheshire.”