back to article Fire stations too much like fire stations, says Govt

You may not have noticed that you have a problem with fire stations, but fortunately the Department of Communities & Local Government is there to put you right. Today, the bit of government that is all that remains of John Prescott's expensive and ephemeral empire unveiled its "vision for a new generation of open, accessible, …


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  1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Nothing good can come of it.

    Where will these people be when the first old lady dies because some twit on a "visit" to their new socially cohesive fire station got in the way and tripped up a pump's driver, delaying their departure by 30 seconds?

    It makes all the difference...

  2. Slaine
    Paris Hilton


    a new generation of open, accessible, inviting and ... that'll be the PH angle

  3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    We made this bit up (possibly)

    You don't live in Cambridge, then. The planning gods around here reckon the main fire station should be replaced with a block of flats.

  4. bbchops

    ...they don't "offer high tech facilities"

    Just how many high tech facilities does spraying water on fire need?

  5. Anonymous John

    What next?

    Green prisons to open up to local communities?

    Jacket please warder. The one with the Broad Arrow all over it.

  6. Roger Greenwood

    Local Fire Stations

    already do this kind of stuff - at least in Holmfirth they do. Scouts, guides, cubs, schools etc all visit regularly to get fire safety info and see the station at work. They also do outreach to schools etc. Keeping fire stations open at all is the real problem.

  7. Iain Porter


    utter bollocks.

    That is all.

  8. Cameron Colley

    More fucking marketing.

    It seems the only thing modern governments and civil service can spend money on is marketing. Style over substance all the way -- win the approval of the brainless masses by constantly re-enforcing the message that the state is here to help.

    Who cares if people are robbed, or burn to death? Instead of police we have cameras and nice signs telling us not to do anything that might make us the victim of crime "don't use your mobile in public, you might get mugged [and if you do, it's your fault]". Instead of firemen we have public relations men who open their doors to the community, and follow every health and safety law to the letter -- who cares if the new stations are practical, or the firemen can actually fight fire?

    "These aren't emergency services -- they're British emergency services."

  9. Anonymous Coward

    "Closed to the public" for a reason, perhaps..?

    So what happens the first time some poor, inattentive nerd wanders across to the cashpoint just as some overzealous employees try to go and do their job - or are the firefighters going to be too busy showing the locals where to park and explaining the finer points of modern art to actually fight fires any more.

    Always assuming the Environmental Lobby and the Health and Safety Naz^H^H^H (sorry) busybodies don't regulate the fire engines off the road first... how long can it be 'til we return to the "good old days" of horse-drawn, hand-powered pumps?

    May I (not-so-) humbly suggest the fire station nearest to Westminster be the first to receive this "quality design" review? And can someone please point me in the direction of the nearest escape route from this politically correct chicken-sh-1-t outfit?

  10. Daniel Snowden

    How to prevent stupid ideas

    Next time there is a meeting for the purpose of discussing pointless ideas (like the one this fire station idea was dreamed up at) and make a few changes to the room.

    1) Place a handles on both sides of the door

    2) Make sure the door opens inwards to the meeting

    3) (Optional) Place a "pull" sign on the "push" side

    Most rational people will (eventually) figure it out. These cretins will give up

    "They don't meet the needs of diverse communities" - where do they get this stuff? It's a building designed to serve as a base of operations for personnel and the appliances.

    Maybe it's the same person who suggested renaming "Manchester Road" (Bradford) to "Personchester Road"

  11. Jonas Taylor

    Keep the fire stations open!

    I don't give a flying toss about this nonsense. What I want is for them to provide the service they're meant to! Currently they're talking about removing 24hr local fire coverage here in Falmouth (Cornwall) despite strong warnings that it will cost lives. So we are likely to lose 24hr coverage so some twat in a suit can look like he's doing something and so that Gordon Brown can use it to get one up on the Conservatives? I am furious that the government can propose nonsense like this with one hand while cutting primary services with the other.

  12. Phil Endecott

    High-tech features

    I once saw a photo of the "control room" of Manchester's central fire station. Lovely wood-panelled walls and state-of-the-Edwardian-art flashing lights and telephones, no doubt activated remotely from TARDIS-like call points.

    Hmm, this is the best that Google can find:

  13. glenn smith

    bloody socialists

    spiralling taxes and a war nobody wants and they're wasting their time on some stupid idea to make fire stations nicer! what next, loosing people's confidential information... !

  14. Tom


    There's always open days and stuff going on at our local fire station (Maidstone, Kent). I think everyone is blowing this far out of proportion... it's just a thing saying they should build better looking fire stations!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    You what?

    Although it shouldn't come as a surprise, it's sad to think that someone could not only come out with this rubbish, but that it isn't meant as a joke.

    One day they will wake up and realise that the whole world isn't about community relations and green impacts.

    Though that will probably be as they sit in the dark, shivering, surrounded by the burnt out remains of a former metropolis.

    Or preferably as they stand with their back against the wall when the revolution finally comes!

  16. Mike Richards


    provision for fire fighting in Cornwall is already a joke with no 24 service in Penwith at all. This summer's hotel fire in Newquay should have been an unnecessary warning to the bureaucrats about cutting retention, but it seems to have only encouraged them.

    On a slightly lighter note, how long before the all-inclusive, community-hugging, drop-in people's* fire stations have to be stripped of unsightly working class boots, carbon unfriendly diesel fire engines and health and safety non-compliant fireman's poles?**

    Still, with a bit of imagination, all that space will make for a lovely Seattle style coffee bar complex with teenage baristas polishing fireman's helmets behind the biscotti***.

    * on the subject of which, when did the Post Office become the vaguely Orwellian People's Post Office?

    ** stop sniggering at the back.

    *** that's it! You're banned!

  17. Nick

    sorry, but

    i think the best part of this story was at the end: "* NB, this is the tech angle. Thank you." <- fantastic!!

    When do you think this is going to move to a "lets all go down the police station to look at the people in the cells" sort of thing? only a matter of time

    AND, i dont think that making the fire stations "look nice" and "environmentally friendly" (how this is done with fire engines tearing around all over the place churnin out fumes god knows) will stop prank calls to them? maybe thats where they should start looking into. I dont care if theyre being nice to the environment as long as I can get through, and they can get out, when my house is on fire!

  18. Senor Beavis

    Hell - why not equip each fire station with a Starbucks outlet

    Sod the fire stations - clean up the city centres, all UK international airports, etc. etc.

  19. Carol Yates

    Community access?

    Having worked with one of our fire services (not "brigades" these days) for more than 10 years I know what happens when the "community" gets access to a station. The old boys will relive their childhood dream to slide down the fireman's pole resulting in broken pelvises, internal injuries and death. This sadly happened in the nineties and should be a warning to these silly planners - these buildings are designed as they are for a reason ie. they are dangerous places and not suitable for turning into community centres.

    BTW it's nothing to do with socialism, Thatcher was in power when the incident happened.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Phil Endecott

    And what more do they need?

    Communications to be told that there is a fire, and updated on the state of fires.

    A map so they know where things are. Hopefully updataed on occasion.

    A window so they can see how many fire engines are.

    Seems like an efficent operation to me.

    It will of course be replaced by the government Fire Portal - they will have 50 dell desktops a rack full of servers, none of it will work, all the engines will have windows for fireservice. It'll all be white and shinny. A projector image and half a dozen 42" TV's...

    I love high efficency.

  21. Kate Menzies

    I agree with this

    The other day I had a fire so I took it to the fire station to have it extinguished. I was so intimidated by the Victorian building that I left with my blaze and dumped it by the side of the road with a load of computer discs I'd found but was too scared of the bright red post boxes to send on. If only they'd had a more appealing building...

  22. Martin Beckett Silver badge

    bloody capitalists

    1, Close the fire stations and move them to out-of-town industrial estates

    2, Discover that turning the firestations in community centres is expensive

    3, Wonder what to do with a lot of nice old buildings, in prime locations in the centre of every city. If only someone could think of an idea of how to develop them - some sort of 'developer' for instance.

    You could do the same thing with hospitals and police stations.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    hes doesn't actually know what his job is and yet has been put in charge of something important like fire stations?!

    Doesn't sound very smart to me... :/

  24. Anonymous Coward

    This is where our bloody taxes are going

    Stupid 'solutions' to non-problems dreamt up by aparachnik labour cronies to amuse token ministers with non-jobs and an army of dopey civil servants all competing to see how much of our hard earned cash they can stuff down the shitter.

  25. Fred


    Jeez.. more pish! my god, this govt is going to the dogs...

    and btw: Re: glenn smith, this govt is so far removed from socialism its not funny.

    Facts straight, bullsh*t out!


  26. Dave

    Obvious solution

    The government need to publish a White Paper on making fires illegal, with a view to creating legislation to stop fires happening. That way we'll be able to save all that money as we won't need a fire service.

  27. John Ferris

    Madness, or thin edge of the wedge

    Fire stations are working environments, opening them to communities would create a huge raft of problems regarding health and safety and security. Currently, visits by the public are suitably controlled and supervised for the safety of all concerned. Having them turned into some form of community centre would require more non operational staff being taken on to look after these services. Considering Fire Services are under financial pressure to cut costs, there is no way the budgets would stretch to this.

    Environmentally, until some better vehicle option comes along, big diesel engined fire appliances will still be needed. But the number of these vehicles is miniscule compared to the number of lorries, 4x4 and luxury 5litre cars on our roads. Fire services have made real measurable improvements in environmental impact in the materials and vehicles they use. Firefighters are trained to protect the environment during incidents, reducing the impact from chemical spills and run-off water.

    The concern is the wish to remove fire stations, on a "green" pretext, and build fewer replacement buildings that may mean cover in some areas may be less than before.

    But believe me, Fire Services WANT to provide the best service possible to the public. They don't want to make cuts, they would love to expand the services they provide. But in the end, they have to work with the budget they are given.

  28. Hedley Phillips

    What a good idea - note

    Why spend money on building more hospitals or prisons when you can waste millions on stupid idiot ideas.

    Was so glad that my December pay packet had 36% taken off for Tax & National Insurance so that it could keep Jim Hensons muppets in a chuffing job.


  29. J


    Nice to hear you chaps in England do not have any more pressing problems to solve in your society and find time for this! May I move in?

    Er, on a second thought, forget about it...

  30. BitTwister

    @Kate Menzies

    Thanks Kate - nice one! :)

    I'm surprised they haven't found a nice cuddly substitute for the word "fire" - surely there are children somewhere who someone should be thinking of?

  31. Nathanael Bastone

    I love the buildings

    Victorian is in baby!

  32. David

    Good God...

    We opened our doors at our station to the public on select days, when we had staff on hand to monitor the visitors and make sure they weren't getting into something that could injure or kill them.

    Compared to a typically "public" place, fire stations are dangerous. Most of them are filled with heavy power tools, sharp implements, and diesel soot so think that Occupational Safety wouldn't walk in to save their arses. It's a stupid idea that is going to end up taking money from their operating budget, resulting in the loss of an extra firefighter or two in each station. That's going to get people killed, both civilian and firefighters.

    I'm an American, by the way. Stupid %@#^ like this starts here. Sorry guys, it's our only real export anymore.

  33. Steve Welsh

    Many Years Ago in a World Far Away From Now

    The local small town fire service used to put on a big open day once a year.

    As it happens, I was landlord of the local pub where some of them used to drink off duty, and as a result, they used to ask me to get a Special License and run a bar at their open day.

    It was only a small town and if memory serves me, they only had the one engine. But there were always two engines at the open day.

    One would be from the nearby city, and the other the local town engine.

    I found out why when there was a 'shout' - because the local tender was instantly manned and went do deal with the emergency, whilst the city engine stayed where it was and continued to be clambered all over by the local children.

    I asked the local Fire Officer why, and he told me 'Well, it looks bad if [city] fire brigade turns up, and they know that we are having an open day (piss-up) here at

    the station.

    The good old days before TOTAL POLITICAL CORRECTNESS took total control of our lives

  34. John

    I just wanted... use the flame emoticon!


  35. Jon

    I'm sorry but ....

    Isn't political correctness an oxymoron ?

    Yep, getting my coat - exiting this country before the next "Great Fire".

  36. Bryan Jones

    People in authority thinking they know about fires - a long history

    Sir Thomas Bloodworth was unimpressed to be woken one night to inspect a fire. "A woman could pi** it out" was his comment on the situation at hand.

    Little did he know how imortal his words would become given that

    1. He was Lord Mayor of London

    2. He was looking at Pudding Lane

    3. It was 1666

    4. Samuel Pepys was writing a diary

  37. Steve

    Only a matter of time

    before Nu Labour cancels the whole fire service and just legislates for it to rain every time there's a fire. Then when it doesn't they'll be able to blame a junior civil service clerk for mislaying the paperwork

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Wrong end of the stick?

    I think a lot of you may have got the wrong end of the stick with this. In Tyne and Wear, our Fire Service have built numerous new stations and are making improvements to existing stations so that they are open to their local communities.

    Whilst they are making their facilities open to communities this is to non-operational areas of the station such as meeting and community rooms which can be booked when their own staff do not require them. Whilst some of the community sections of the station have windows overlooking operational areas (because people are interested in seeing firefighters train/get called out etc.) nobody can just wander into the appliance room, the offices, the watch room or the training ground etc.

    With regard to firefighters time being taken from what they should 'really' be doing, this is never really the case. All of the stations open to communities are staffed by Community Safety employees who organise educational work with schools etc. and also manage the use of the community facilities.

    Why are they doing this? Simply because by getting more people into stations means they can provide fire safety advice and education to members of the public they may never have had the opportunity to engage with (whether that be through talking to them, posters or interactive kiosks etc). In addition, it means fire services can consult with the public to find out what they want from a fire service and let them know that the fire service no longer just puts out fires but is now very keen on prevention of fires through home risk assessments etc.

  39. Kenny McLeod

    Missing the point completely

    They are not talking about open public access to the firebays where all the fire engines operate - but don't let that get in the way of your 'story'.

    This is about having meeting spaces and classrooms as a part of the 'modernisation' move from intervention (putting out fires) to prevention (not having fires to put out). Getting the messages across to vulnerable groups and working with disaffected youth to prevent fires will help to further reduce the number of fires and therefore the number of casualties.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Does anyone remember Monkey Dust?

    ...soon the Fire Service will be renamed Icarus

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slight correction

    "Firefighters' first job will always be fighting fire" - actually a firefighter's first job is to ferry people around in minicabs, and his second job is to agitate for 40% pay rises and more free hours to do his minicabbing in. Putting out fires is probably third.

    And I agree that there definitely needs to be a change of terminology. I suggest that a fire be renamed a "Combustion Event", and a firefighter a "Combustion Event Solution Provider". We could also finally get rid of innuendo by renaming the fireman's pole a "Vertical Access Enabler".

  42. Slaine

    what dumb idea next?

    Can you think of anything more fekkin stupid than encouraging the general public to spend time inside a FireStation? Apart from the fact that the station is operational and therefore likely to erupt into emergency action at a moment's notice - vital seconds KILL - ... you will obviously need to provide adequate parking, wheelchair access, tasteful information packs in 26 different languages, co-ordinated colour schemes and probably a nice coffee or wine bar serving croissants or a deli or restaurant... I know, lets build it across that big open space beside the main road - in front of those big red things - it'll look sooooooo cool - yeh - what are they? FIRE engines... mmm, Laurence, we'll rename them once we find out what they do...

    Encouraging people into a place like a firestation is just an invitation to disaster... either by injury in the team's rush to get to a fire or the potential delays that can result. RAF bases don't need to have an open door policy, Hospital operating theatres are closed off (many of them are shut down admittedly but that's another rant), even police stations limit severely which bits you get to visit.

    In fact only one think stands out in my mind as being remotely MORE stupid and that is to have nuclear power stations with "visitor" centres... oh phuk - too late.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    where the son don't shine

    > Maybe it's the same person who suggested renaming

    > "Manchester Road" (Bradford) to "Personchester Road"

    I think you'll find the final proposal was "Peroffspringchester Road"

    With a possibility that "chest" is replaced by "uppertorso".

  44. Jared Earle

    @ Daniel Snowden

    > Maybe it's the same person who suggested renaming "Manchester Road" (Bradford) to "Personchester Road"

    The only thing worse than "Political correctness gone mad" is "Political correctness gone mad gone mad". There are plenty of real examples of PCness (this article being a prime example) to call upon that you don't need to slavishly believe whatever The Daily Mail tells you to.

    ps. For those that missed it, the "Personchester" outrage never happened; it was a joke that people started forwarding as a fact, as happens so often. PCGMGM.

  45. Britt Johnston

    the Swiss way

    Here's how firefighting is managed in the confederacy of direct democracy and cheese with holes. (Sorry, no Swiss icon, alien will have to do.)

    Each parish sends a tax bill for the amount agreed by the council. You know what you're paying, and if you don't want to pay, you can volunteer to be a fireman.

    It might not work in England, mind - An English colleague signed on, causing havoc, because he didn't take firefighting seriously, and preferred to meet in the pub.

  46. Steve

    What are they thinking?

    Who the hell wants to see art at a Fire Station?

    If you take a group of kids to learn about Fire Stations then they want to see stonking great red trucks with flashing lights and sirens - the best would be for them to go tearing out on a call when the kids are being shown the engines (I know from experience).

    If you show them some multi-million pound Visitor's Centre nonsense with interactive display screens or whatever tat their "preferred IT supplier" is trying to offload that month, then they will pay no attention and learn fuck all about fire safety.

  47. Simon Greenwood

    Probably not wrong

    All these lovely old Victorian buildings are just asking to be turned into flats, while the fire service would be much better served on an industrial estate on the edge of town. If it worked for the BBC, it should be fine for the fire service... what?

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Embrace Modernisation and Push through Change.

    This is really what we need, you are all missing the point. We now have disabled access and toilets and what was once our general office is now a community receptions, people can book our lecture room and have it would seem priority over ourselves in doing so. They have also done away with officer ranks as they are obviously to frightening a term for members of the public and scare away possible recruits so they are now managers. I suggest you go down to your local fire station and have a look at it before it disappears it's a great place to spend a day if all your paint is dry. I am sure some fool will come on and say fire fighters should be there to rescue people, O if only we had not been modernised that would be true.!

  49. Anonymous Coward

    What DCLG does

    as quoted by a senior management type

    "itellectual masturbation"

    kind of sums this up.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    If these ideas and plans had been proposed by the Firemen and Fire Departments of the nation, then I might have given them some attention; but instead they come from Government sponsored suits that have never fought a fire or been in a fire in their lives! The closest these people have ever been to a flame is their Zippo lighter or gas hob...


    Why the Fuck does this government insist on interfering where no interference is necessary?

  51. Ted Treen
    Black Helicopters

    Look on the bright side

    It appears that this government (yes, I know the term is more than generous) is doing it's bit for equality by employing many of those who are otherwise unemployable due to being cerebrally challenged (or thick as pigsh1t for the non-pc), or open to a different plane of existence - or, again for my non-pc audience, in cloud cuckoo land, away with the fairies, in la-la land...

  52. Conrad

    Monkey Dust...

    Indeed I do remember Monkey Dust, and ROFL'd when I read this article...looks like some of John & Tony's pals were avid fans, too, only they didn't realise it was comedy.

    Another suggestion for diversification: emergency kebab vans.



    P.S. I wonder if the marketing consultancy responsible was named after female genitalia?

  53. tim chubb Silver badge

    lowering response times...

    "on site cashpoints", car parking space for rural areas, and providing "space for art displays."

    in other words make the firestation a target for local youths to torch, the firemen get there in seconds, which will nicly lower there average response times, the kids get something to burn

    its a win win situation!!

    how rare!

  54. Eileen Bach

    better idea

    Instead of incorporating a community facility they should incorporate a jail.

    It should be made a criminal offence to be in posession of a fire. This will apply to all fires and it should be the legal responsibility of the respondant not to own items that could be used in the ignition or fueling, including owning items such as cooking oil, cars, ovens, televisions and any other combination of potentially fire promoting stuff. The culprit should also pay a fine in a fire intervention for which the hourly rate for each fire-person to extinguish said fire will be £10000 per operative and your house forfeited etc, etc. No excuses for fire in this nanny state.(Unless it is a government owned fire in which case the law won't apply).

    This message is not meant to upset or hurt victims of fire etc but made in good heart.

  55. Morely Dotes

    @ Steve

    "Who the hell wants to see art at a Fire Station?"

    I'm partial to Botticelli - a few chunky nudes might warm things up...

  56. Tony

    Its the economy, stupid

    errr, haven't they noticed the property market going a bit south.

    The cunning bit of this plan (the bit that was supposed to help the ever growing budget deficit) won't work as the commercial property market is dead, the resi market is just at the top of a very large cliff and the chances right now of a developer being able to borrow a few million for converting a fire station are about as likely as a something very unlikely!

    Ever wondered why the trains, planes etc don't run properly, cos if they did we'd all feck off to a properly run country like err the Congo, or Burma or somewhere a bit more liberal and less taxed.

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