Plaistow fire station a blazing success

Blue watch outside their new fire station in Plaistow

Blue watch outside their new fire station in Plaistow - Credit: Archant

It may have taken 20 months to build, but the new Plaistow fire station has been worth the wait.

“I’ve been coming back and forward while it was being built, but the firefighters only saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago,” explained station manager Joseph Kenny.

“It’s set up to be able to cope with demand in 10, 15, 20 years. It’s future-proof.”

Plaistow is one of nine stations across the capital to be replaced as part of a £51.5million private finance initiative.

Set over three floors, the mess area of the station is at the top.

It features a gym, a kitchen and even a roof garden, complete with solar panels to help power the building.

A training room is on the first floor, while the three vehicles – two fire engines and one incident response vehicle – are parked below.

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“Firefighters have to spend 24 per cent of their time training,” said Joseph.

“That could be in the training room or outside with the equipment.”

It’s not just Plaistow’s firefighters who train at the station.

Skills are practised daily, either by one of Plaistow’s four watches or by crews from another station who travel to use the equipment.

Almost any situation can be rehearsed, from using ladders or ropes to climbing through windows and cutting up vehicles.

There is also a specialist breathing apparatus training area, one of only a few in the capital.

“There are a lot of small features which might look coincidental but are there for a reason,” explained Joseph.

He pointed out the windows on the tower as one example, with each floor having different sizes to reflect the differences found in the borough’s houses and flats.

“Practising with different windows can make a difference when they’re out at a property,” he said.

“Training is important as they can’t keep other people safe unless they’re safe themselves first.”

The station’s firefighters split between Stratford and East Ham while the station was demolished and then rebuilt.

For the four watches who operate out of Plaistow, each comprised of 12 crew members, it is more of a home than an office.

There is space to learn, train and relax, but more importantly it is also a space for community.

A room has been built especially for community groups to hire for free, which can even be used when there are no firefighters around.

“We want people to see the station as a place they can come to,” said Joseph.

“They might be here for a reason that is nothing to do with us, but we can give them fire prevention advice while they’re here.”