Full steam ahead as Fire & Rescue Authority approves construction of state of the art training academy and ‘superstation’

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority has today approved progressive plans to create a state of the art training facility and multi-pump ‘superstation’ in the heart of the community on Long Lane, Aintree.

The green light on the project signals further investment in an already ‘Outstanding’ Service.

In June 2021, the Authority approved the Service’s innovative Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2021-24 which included proposals to increase the number of fire engines and the creation of specialist fire stations across Merseyside despite austerity. The construction of the new facility is the keystone of the Authority’s vision to be the best fire & rescue service in the UK for the people of Merseyside.

Since being proposed, operational and support staff across the Service have worked together with partner organisations, architects and construction companies to develop and hone its plans, consulting staff, representative bodies and the public to ensure the project lays the foundation for the future. Despite rising build costs, and through prudent management and innovative practice, the Service continues to deliver improvements in its frontline services, meeting its ambitions to be the best, whilst better protecting its firefighters and the public.

The project received consent on 3rd May this year when Liverpool City Council granted planning permission for the 12-acre site on Long Lane.

With today’s approval, a date can be set for the work to commence, with the build expected to be complete by mid-2024. The contract for the build has been awarded to Wates Construction, who have proven themselves worthy of the contract having produced first-class fire and rescue service facilities at Prescot and most recently St. Helens.

The development will provide a centre of excellence for all staff but particularly those in operational roles, where they will hone their skills.

The facility will include immersive, realistic training zones that can be adapted to train for any foreseeable risk including high-rise, marine, flooding, motorway and train incidents. The site will include a 4-bay fire station offering 24-hour emergency response to the surrounding area, a secondary Fire Control facility and a National Resilience Centre of Excellence.

The new superstation will see response times reduce significantly across the area.

Designed to be accessible to all, the new location will hold staff well-being facilities, youth engagement facilities and meeting rooms for community use.

The environmental impact of the site has been considered carefully, with no fossil fuels used on site. Air source heat pumps and photovoltaic panels will provide energy, with an ultimate commitment to achieving zero carbon for the site moving forward. Twenty-three electric vehicle charging points will be included within the car parking spaces and a number of green measures have been incorporated into the site including biodiversity improvement measures and the planting of over 150 mature trees on site.

Speaking following the Authority’s approval of the land deal, Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said, “The approval of this project will now enable us to turn our vision for the future into reality. The new facility will reduce response times in the local area, whilst ensuring we are equipped to meet the demands placed on a modern fire and rescue service. Our firefighters respond locally, nationally and internationally so it is vital that we equip them for every eventuality – train hard - (fire) fight easy has never been so true.

The tragedy of Grenfell Tower and the horrific terror events in Manchester and London emphasise just how challenging this job can be. However, we are not immune to such events – and our response to the terror attack at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital is a real reminder of the type of incidents we can be called upon to respond and how vital it is that we are trained and equipped to meet those challenges when they come.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service sets the highest standards, and this investment reflects the risks we face and the commitment and professionalism of all our staff.”

Cllr Les Byrom, Chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, said of the approval: “This is fantastic news for the people of Merseyside, ensuring we have state of the art training facilities to prepare our operational staff for every possible scenario. The hard work and vision of all those who have contributed to this project should be applauded and will ensure Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is able to cement its stated aim to be the best Fire & Rescue Service in the UK.”

For free fire safety advice, or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for those over 65 or meeting certain criteria.