Ashburton’s new look fire station officially opened
Ashburton’s newly refurbished fire station is officially open for business.
Chief executive of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Rhys Jones was in Ashburton on Saturday morning to cut the ribbon on the new-look station.
Coming at a cost of $1 million, the refurbishment brought Ashburton’s local urban and rural fire services together under one roof for the first time – the first town in New Zealand to do so.
The Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade (Ashburton’s urban firefighters) have called the Ashburton Fire Station on Burnett Street home since it was built in 1976, but Ashburton’s rural fire force previously called a shed on South Street home.
The national launch of FENZ to bring New Zealand’s urban and rural firefighting bodies together under the one umbrella last year, and the Ashburton rural brigade needing to get out of their previous home, brought about the opportunity for them to move in together but that was easier said than done.
Ashburton’s urban firefighters numbered about 35, and with the rural firefighters added in, they needed space in the station for about 55 firefighters all up. There just wasn’t the space for everyone to fit and work in together, so a major renovation was required.
To accommodate both firefighting crews, the station expanded from 37 lockers to 55.
An additional garage was also built to house the rural crew’s smoke chaser and a support van. In total, three fire appliances and two tankers will now operate from the six-bay station.
The station has also had extensive refurbishment including seismic strengthening, larger storage areas and new wash areas created, modifications to improve weather tightness, electrical upgrades, a support office renovation and updating of the station’s communications infrastructure to the latest standard to provide better coverage.
Creating extra office space has also been a vital part of the renovation due to the number of FENZ staff based out of the site growing to four. Before the merger, only one full time role was based out of the station.
The Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade is one of the country’s busiest, regularly attending more than 400 call outs per year over the past few years. In 2017 they set a new brigade record, attending 465 call outs for the year.
The biggest chunk (98) was to alarm activations, with 69 for medical assistance and 49 to rural vegetation fires. Rescue calls also made up a large proportion, with 32 calls in urban areas and 31 in rural areas.
FENZ chief executive Rhys Jones cuts the ribbon to officially open Ashburton’s new look fire station.