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‘Delicate dancing’ at fire station

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There’s a little bit of “delicate dancing” going on at the Ashburton Fire Station at present in an effort to keep the station operational while major alterations are carried out.

Chief fire officer Alan Burgess said it was always known there would be disruptions while the building was modified to accommodate the members and appliances of the Ashburton Rural Fire Force, whose current base is in South Street.

A decision was made to have the two fire forces working from the same building following the merger of the New Zealand Fire Service and the National Rural Fire Authority to become Fire and Emergency New Zealand on July 1.

While the footprint of the building has not altered, major changes are being made internally, along with strengthening work and the bringing forward of maintenance work.

“The work is due to be finished by the end of the first week in December and things are look”ing good to make that target, Mr Burgess said, despite some rejigging of work because of wet weather.

The alterations mean the building will be able to house up to 60 firefighters, instead of the current 35.

The three frontline appliances, tanker and van used by the urban brigade will be joined by another appliance and a “smoke chaser” utility vehicle from the rural fire force. A new shed is being added in the south east corner of the site to house the two smaller vehicles and the appliance bay extended to accommodate the rest.

The appliance bay will be carpeted with marine grade carpet in order to reduce the risk of people slipping on wet floors.

The biggest changes are internally, with offices, communications room, muster and training rooms, and shower block moved around to enable a larger area for the protective clothing needed for the increased number of firefighters. A separate area will be created to house breathing apparatus.

From the outside, passersby will notice little difference, other than the steel strengthening.

In the meantime, the station’s social room has become the engine house. A temporary communications centre is located there, along with office space.

Mr Burgess said while some advanced technology could not be included because of difficulties with suppliers, all the wiring would be installed and the equipment could be added later.

Everything else should be completed by December, he said.