Calls for new fire station at airport

A NEW fire station would need to be built at an Essex airport to provide cover for the extra number of passengers expected in the future, a report says.

A NEW fire station would need to be built at an Essex airport to provide cover for the extra number of passengers expected in the future, a report says.

Essex Fire Authority is meeting next week to discuss a business plan that will cater for the potential risk caused by the increased amount of flights, people travelling and cargo handled at Stansted Airport.

There are currently two schemes under consideration, the first based on an increase in the number of passengers from 23million to 35million, all served by the existing runway, and the other dealing with the introduction of a second runway.

If either or both are approved, it is felt the prospective risk to passenger safety could be increased due to the absence of a full-time service near the airport.

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In a report to the authority, Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, said: “There is an ongoing intention by BAA and Stansted to expand the business activities at Stansted Airport.

“Should this development take place, it will substantially affect the integrated risk management planning for west Essex.

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“A new fire station at Stansted Airport will provide a whole time fire station, significant improvement to fire-cover in the surrounding villages and dynamic support for airport business continuity and services.”

The new site set aside for the station is located near Longborder Lane and Bassingbourn Road and would be served by a full-time crew.

Firefighters at the proposed station would have a response time of two minutes, an improvement on the existing time of 14 minutes from the nearest full-time station at Bishop's Stortford, in Hertfordshire.

The airport has two local Essex stations, served by retained crews, that provide part-time facilities, one at Stansted and one at Dunmow, which have response times of between five and seven minutes.

The fire service also claim a 24-hour station would reduce the use of the airport's own fire service for incidents not involving planes within the limits of the airport.

Currently, the Essex Fire Authority pays Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Services £58,000 a year after they respond to an annual average of 121 calls to the airport.

The fire authority is still finalising costs for the new service but suggests some of the extra funding which will be needed could be met by a partnership with the airport's authorities.

Last night, a spokesman for Stansted Airport said: “As we haven't announced our preferred option for a second runway, it is difficult to say at this stage what extra facilities may or may not be needed.

“We will of course be speaking to parties, including the fire service, once we have announced our masterplan later in the year.”

The report will be presented at a fire authority meeting on September 6, where proposals for a new station will be outlined.

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