FIREFIGHTERS have moved into a new £2m station to serve Pontefract and Knottingley.
The towns’ former fire stations on Pontefract’s Stuart Road and Knottingley’s Hazel Road have closed to make way for a single facility between the two sites on Stumpcross Lane in Pontefract.
Wakefield district commander Martin Langan said the new station, which will be officially unveiled during an opening ceremony in April, represented a “vital commitment to the communities of Knottingley and Pontefract”.
He added: “The complex occupies a key strategic location, enabling firefighters to provide a quick emergency response across the area.”
The controversial merger of the two facilities was first mooted in 2006 as part of a plan to overhaul fire and rescue cover across the Five Towns.
The service’s original proposal was to build a three new fire stations – one between Pontefract and Knottingley to serve both towns, a second in Airedale to cover high-risk areas of Castleford and a third in Normanton, closer to the Europort industrial estate in Whitwood.
However, the project was frustrated by land acquisition problems and other “technical issues” so the plan for Castleford’s new station, which the Express understands would have been based on Redhill Drive, was scrapped.
Instead, improvements will be made to the town’s existing fire station, on Beancroft Road – which could be shared with the town’s neighbourhood policing team when West Yorkshire Police’s new divisional headquarters is built in Normanton.
A new £1.69m fire station opened at the site of Normanton’s old fire station earlier this month.
Construction at the Pontefract site – which used to be a former adult training centre – began last March.
The new station, which accommodates two fire engines, a gym, a recreational area and meeting rooms, features the latest high-performance materials, rainwater harvesting and solar panels.
It also incorporates a steel-framed training tower, for rescue exercises, and highway improvements.
It is not clear what will happen to the former fire station in Knottingley, but the Express understands Wakefield Council is looking into the possibility of buying Pontefract’s facility.
The site may be used for a temporary car park if plans for a new Tesco supermarket to replace the town’s existing store gets the go ahead.
l See next week’s Express for pictures inside the new Pontefract and Knottingley facility.