Merger of Burwell and Swaffham Bulbeck fire stations approved by Cambs Fire Authority

The proposed fire station which could be built in Burwell

The proposed fire station which could be built in Burwell - Credit: Archant

Plans to merge to village fire stations into a new state-of-the-art unit have today been given the final seal of approval.

Cambridgeshire Fire Authority agreed at its meeting to close Swaffham Bulbeck retained fire station and relocate the firefighters to join the existing retained crew in Burwell once the new fire station has been built.

Planning permission has already been granted to create the new station, which will include a state-of-the-art training facility, parking and community facilities. It will be built next to the current Burwell fire station.

Chris Strickland, deputy chief fire officer, said: “The creation of one combined fire station has always been a long-term plan as it is not feasible to bring either Swaffham or Burwell stations up to modern day standards, or to provide a proper practical training facility.

“By pulling these two crews together, we are putting them in the best location to deliver a better service to the community.”

A consultation into the move was held earlier this year.

Of the 152 responses received to the consultation process, 88 per cent were in favour of the amalgamation.

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Mr Strickland acknowledged in a YouTube interview earlier this year that closing the fire station in Swaffham Bulbeck would inevitably lead to longer response times in the village.

But he insisted that, as an average, it would only add 13 seconds to response times in the “east of the county”.

He said: “Because the population is so small in that area we are struggling to crew the appliances. We are going to get to a point where the fire engine never turns up because we really are struggling to crew it.”

The Swaffham Bulbeck station only has four retained staff available, due to recruitment problems.

As a result, the village’s appliance only attended 11 incidents during 2012/13 financial year, four of which were false alarms. The rest of the incidents in the Swaffham area were attended by firefighters elsewhere in the county.

Following a tender process, it is hoped building work will begin in January.