A new shared police and fire station has opened its doors in Prescot.
The Community Fire and Police Station is based at the junction of Manchester Road and Cables Way.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, Merseyside Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Knowsley MBC worked together to bring the joint station to fruition.
The project helps the organisations involved continue to deliver a high-quality community service while meeting cuts in Government funding.
The two-acre site was chosen for the merger of Huyton and Whiston fire stations.
Fire chiefs say this is the first time Prescot has had a fire station since 1946.
With three fire engine bays, the 1377m2 station has modern training facilities, including a drill tower which can be used to simulate and practise different types of roof rescue - and two rooms available free of charge for use by community groups.
Hundreds of bushes and small trees were planted and a number of bird boxes put up to safeguard on-site wildlife.
As well as firefighters, the station will house arson prevention teams from Huyton and St Helens and the Prince’s Trust will run courses from the station.
Facilities including the kitchen, dining area and gym will be shared by the emergency services, helping to support collaboration.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said: “Prescot Community Fire and Police Station is now operational. We have fire crew working from the station, with more staff set to move in.
“The station is equipped with modern facilities and located to provide the best possible response to incidents in South Knowsley.
“The new community fire station allows ourselves and Merseyside Police, to continue to serve the public as effectively as possible, given ongoing budget cuts.
“An official opening event will be held later this year.”
Coun Dave Hanratty, Chair of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “This is one of many schemes of joint working with our emergency service colleagues, exploring more effective and efficient ways of working in light of continuous cuts to our budget.
“This will become a fantastic facility not only for our firefighters, police and other partners - but also for the local community to use on a regular basis.”
Merseyside’s Police & Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I am pleased that the neighbourhood team and the local firefighting team are now in a position to start work from the new shared station for Prescot.
“This joint community station is a great example of our shared commitment to working together to provide the best possible service to people on Merseyside. Not only will this centre reduce costs and increase efficiency, it will also enable officers and firefighters to work in closer partnership in facilities which are modern and fit for purpose.
“This is another step towards fulfilling my 10-year pledge to provide the officers and staff of Merseyside Police the buildings they need to best serve the public, now and for years to come.”
Community police stations are designed to be accessible, visible centres which are co-located with partners in busy neighbourhood hubs which are already well-used by the communities they serve. Once a week, the station will open to enable the local policing team to meet with members of the community and address their concerns.
Council leader Andy Moorhead said: “The council has worked closely with MFRA to facilitate the development of this new facility. I’m delighted that the building is now operational and will provide modern fire and rescue services for the local community.”
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority secured the site from Knowsley MBC, and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government assisted with costs with a £1.7million grant. The building was constructed by Wates Construction.
Wates Construction was appointed to build the station via the North West Construction Hub, a procurement body designed to save time and money in the delivery of public sector building work in the region.
Site preparation works began in November 2016, with the building work starting early in 2017.