RLB completes community fire station ahead of schedule amidst COVID-19

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  • RLB completes community fire station ahead of schedule amidst COVID-19
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Chris Hartley


Chris Hartley


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Rider Levett Bucknall, in partnership with Wates Construction and the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) Estates team, has completed the construction of a brand-new community fire station in St Helens. The project was handed over four weeks ahead of schedule and on budget amidst the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After conducting significant due diligence on various land options site selection targeted a former glass manufacturing site and previous coal colliery, RLB acted as employer’s agent as well as providing cost management services. Extensive risk assessments and pre-construction services were undertaken to de-risk the site as far as practicable.

The RLB team has worked for the past few years with MFRS to deliver three new modern fire station facilities that meet current operational standards as part of their estate rationalisation strategy, with St Helens Community Fire Station being the latest completed project.

Facing the risk of COVID-19 impacting the project and staff wellbeing, the teams quickly utilised innovative, creative ways of continuing the project by adapting their working practices and becoming more agile and flexible. This was made possible by holding virtual site meetings, undertaking socially distanced walkarounds. All parties collaborated and worked at an enhanced digital level to ensure that the critical time-path wasn’t affected. It was this collective working that allowed the project team to re-sequence activity on the site, adapt to changing working practices and bring the project delivery date in ahead of schedule.

A two-storey, three bay Fire Accommodation project incorporating a training tower, community and prevention rooms, lecture rooms and full FF&E fit out; the project invested heavily in the community. This included over £5m being spent with SMEs within 50 miles of the project; accounted for 385 apprenticeship weeks; facilitated four work placements and enabled 10 community activities.

Stuart Wands, Partner at RLB comments, “The St Helens Community Fire Station is an example of the construction industry truly working together and adapting its working practices to adhere to the changing governance and guidance. We were delighted to be able to bring the project in not only ahead of schedule, but on budget.”

Dave Saville, Business Unit Director for Wates Construction in the North West, said: “We have partnered with RLB across a number of projects within the North West Construction Hub framework and particularly with MFRS estates. We worked as a team to be flexible in our approach to offer solution-led strategy to the build, ensuring it was delivered safely and on time – despite COVID-19 challenges.”

Stewart Woods, Head of Estates at MFRS, said: “The support and determination from RLB to complete the new St Helens Community Fire station on time and to an extremely high standard has been exceptional. To complete the project on time and within budget on what was already a very challenging site and through the COVID-19 pandemic is remarkable and a testimony to the professionalism of RLB and their staff who have worked on and supported this project.”

Image credit: Wates Construction Ltd, Paul White Photography


Chris Hartley
Chris Hartley

Partner - Building Surveying and Health & Safety Services