Firefighters have officially moved into the new state-of-the-art Community Fire Station in St Helens, marking the start of a new era for the fire safety of the town.
The purpose-built station, constructed on unused land at Pilkington Glass’ Watson Street site, officially became operational this afternoon, Friday 16th October. It is the third hybrid Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) station, alongside Wallasey and Liverpool City.
Staffed 24/7, the station will be home to 38 firefighters and three fire engines, with one engine crewed by wholetime firefighters, a second crewed through the day time and the third crewed by wholetime retained firefighters. The station will also be home to two combined platform ladders.
Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “This is a ground-breaking day for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and the communities of St Helens. This fit-for-purpose station means we are able to continue providing the best possible service to the people of St Helens, while also providing our firefighters with the facilities they rightly deserve.
“It is no secret that MFRS has suffered at the hands of extensive budget cuts in recent years, but I have made it my mission to ensure it is equipped to meet the demands placed on a modern day fire and rescue service, and whilst we would always seek to avoid closing fire stations, the merging of Eccleston and Parr Stocks fire stations was the most viable operational decision. The location of St Helens Community Fire Station means we are able to maintain some of the fastest response times in the country and protect the safety of the communities we serve.
“This development would not have been possible had it not been for Wates Construction. They have been exceptional and have gone above and beyond to ensure the station was ready to go operational on time, in spite of the challenges we have faced as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
The fire station also includes operational and welfare accommodation, a community meeting room, offices and training facilities, including an external drill area and four-storey training tower.
As well as marking the station’s opening, today also saw the unveiling of the station’s access road – named Violet Way – in tribute to Violet-Grace Youens.
Station Manager Wayne Woods said: “Firefighters from Eccleston were the first on scene on the day that Violet-Grace tragically died and since that time they have maintained a strong connection with the Youens family. I am incredibly proud of the work that firefighters from both Eccleston and Parr Stocks have put in to supporting the family and raising vital funds for the Violet-Grace’s Gift charity. It is only right that the new station pays tribute to her memory.”
A spokesperson for Violet Grace’s Gify Charity said “We can’t quite believe it and are struggling to put into words how much we appreciate and love this.
“Last year we were approached by Merseyside Fire and Rescue about their new home just off Milverny Way in the town centre. They asked if they could name the new road leading to the station ‘Violet Way’. Of course we said yes! We are so incredibly overwhelmed that they thought of our beautiful angel.
“The fire service were first on scene on that day. They worked so hard and tirelessly and have been amazing and supportive to us ever since. We simply cannot give them the credit that they all deserve. The only thing we can say is THANK YOU”.
As well as firefighters, the station will house arson prevention teams, Protection teams and Youth Engagement teams including Prince’s Trust.
A public consultation into the future of fire cover in St Helens took place in 2015. The land off Milverny Way/Watson Street was chosen for merger of Eccleston and Parr Stocks fire stations as it enables an equitable emergency response cover to both areas.
Planning permission was granted in March 2019, with construction work commencing in August that same year.