Oakham firefighters staying in hotel while £1m station revamp is completed

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Firefighters from Oakham station are staying at a neighbouring hotel during night shifts while they wait for a new station to be completed.

The crews have been staying at the Old Wisteria Hotel in Catmose Street since Monday last week when the Leicester and Rutland Fire and Rescue crew in South Street, Oakham, switched from working a 12-hour shift to 24-hour shifts, which is comprised of 12 working hours and 12 hours on standby.

The station requires a £1m revamp to improve the facilities for firefighters. But delays in building caused by poor weather meant the new sleeping quarters and rest area were not ready when the changes came into force.

Changes to the services, which mean there will be 14 staff based at Oakham rather than 28, could not be delayed because many of the remaining staff from Oakham have switched to a new station in Birstall in Leicestershire which opened last week.

To allow the changes to take place on schedule building company, G F Tomlinson which is carrying out the building work, is paying for five single rooms for each of the crew members to use during standby hours.

Oakham watch manager Mark Draper said: “The Old Wisteria Hotel is helping the emergency services out during our own emergency.

“There have been no change to response times. We are only 30 seconds away from the station and we are still responding to calls at the same speed.”

During the day the crews work from a mobile building at the back of the station.

Mr Draper said: “It would be wholly unfair to make people work these sort of hours out of a mobile building so we have found this solution.

“It is nice that a local business, like the Old Wisteria Hotel, is benefiting from the solution we have found to this problem.”

Each member of the crew on standby in the hotel has an ‘alerter’. If the crew receives a 999 call during the night they gather at reception and cross the road to their vehicles and equipment.

Mr Draper said the crews hope to move into their new facility in mid-May.

The day crewing plan, which is the new systems of staffing introduced, was approved in 2012 and will reduce costs by £400,000 a year at Oakham fire station.