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03 January 2024
Norfolk County Council's Cabinet is poised to deliberate on a significant multi-million pound proposal, scheduled for consideration next week, aimed at revitalising fire and rescue buildings throughout the region. This initiative is a vital component of the council's continuous commitment to infrastructure investment, specifically directed towards enhancing the inclusivity of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) facilities.
The proposed modernisation stems from a comprehensive evaluation of the equity of facilities at fire stations conducted by the NFRS. Recognising the importance of accommodating a more diverse workforce, the proposed changes aim to create purpose-built facilities for women and standardise layouts across all buildings. This strategic approach seeks to improve the overall health, safety, and wellbeing of fire service staff, aligning with the service's commitment to recruit more women and ensure a safe and inclusive working environment.
Cabinet member for communities and partnerships, Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, emphasised the council's dedication to supporting fire and rescue service staff: "This proposed programme of work shows the council’s ongoing commitment to improving fire and rescue service buildings to demonstrate how much we value fire fighters and fire staff. We want to ensure they have the right facilities and work environments to support the vital work they do in their communities."
NFRS Chief Fire Officer, Ceri Sumner, highlighted the importance of considering emerging best practices on contaminants and meeting the specific needs of female firefighters and staff: "This programme shows how we’re considering emerging best practise on contaminants and recognising the value and requirements of female fire fighters and staff to our service."
To date, the cabinet has approved a £1.2m investment in a new logistics hub in Wymondham, along with extensive improvements at Sprowston and Thetford fire stations. The proposed three-stage approach to prioritising modernisation involves an initial allocation of £2m from existing capital for 2024-25, with a subsequent £2m bid expected for 2025-26.
The proposed changes primarily target on-call stations, with a focus on creating more modern facilities, such as at Carrow in Norwich. The timetable will be aligned with other initiatives, including the decarbonisation of the wider county council estate, to ensure optimal value for money.
In addition to the immediate plans, NFRS has requested cabinet acknowledgement of an estimated further £4.5m requirement for work beyond 2026, catering to improvements in its remaining estate. This bid aligns with the council’s Strategic Property Asset Management Framework 2021/22 to 2026/27, aiming to provide the right properties, fit for purpose, to meet current service delivery needs and plan for the future.
Cabinet members will review the comprehensive report during their meeting at 10 am on Wednesday, 10 January. The proceedings can be watched live or accessed afterward, and the reports can be read online for more detailed information.
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