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Corrosion means Norfolk’s fire training towers must be replaced at £1.5m cost

The drill tower at Hingham fire station,  illuminated with blue light in a show of respect to key workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Scott Field

The drill tower at Hingham fire station, illuminated with blue light in a show of respect to key workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Scott Field

Archant

Ageing training towers at Norfolk fire stations have corroded so much they are no longer fit for purpose and need to be replaced at a cost of more than £1.5m.

Firefighters practice on a drill tower. 
Photo: Denise Bradley
.Firefighters practice on a drill tower. Photo: Denise Bradley .

Some of the drill towers at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s stations date back to the 1960s and inspections have led to some, including at Swaffham and Long Stratton, being condemned and stopped from being used.

Others – at Holt, Mundesley, Heacham and Reepham Fire Stations – have a qualified safe to climb certificate. That only lasts for six months and, due to extensive corrosion, the top sections must not be used.

The service wants to replace 18 towers at fire stations across the county over the next three years, with a string of planning applications lodged.

The service wants to replace the lattice drill towers with new four storey training towers, which have already installed at both Hunstanton and Attleborough Fire Stations. Fire chiefs say it provides greater scope for working at height training.

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A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “These needed replacing, and as the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service have identified the safety and competence of its workforce as a top priority within our annual service plan, the replacement of these towers protects our workforce from harm and also fulfils the organisational responsibility under health and safety legislation.

“Secondly it protects our communities by ensuring a competent and effective response to a wide range of emergencies.

“The addition of these drill towers will allow crews to be trained in aspects which we cannot currently facilitate locally, this in turn, will save money due to crew extraction and travel to appropriate training venues.

“Working at height training is vitally important to ensure that fire crews are competent and able to carry out tasks at height and to ensure compliance with the Working at Height regulations 2005.”

The fire service is seeking to replace towers at fire stations Swaffham, Mundesley, Sandringham, Methwold, Wroxham, Martham, Stalham, Reepham, Wells, Loddon, Holt, Hingham, Heacham, Massingham, East Harling, Cromer, Long Stratton and Acle.

Each tower will need to secure planning permission from the council’s own committee.


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