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London Fire Brigade and English Heritage to adapt city's historic fire stations

Joint effort by London Fire Brigade and English Heritage to adapt London's historical fire stations
Old Fire Station, Stoke Newington, Hackney, London. Photo: Fin Fahey

This guidance is intended to help those authorities who are faced with applications for alteration and adaptation.

From the compact allure of Belsize to the elaborate Victorian splendour of Kensington, London's historic fire station buildings are an instantly recognisable part of the capital. The one that remain in active use are part of their proud legacy of civic buildings that are cherished by their communities. They are also important operational buildings housing professional organisation with a wide range of roles and responsibilities than ever before.

This is why the English Heritage and London Fire Brigade have agreed to work together for a joint guidance on adapting London's historic fire stations. The practical guide outlines an approach that balances the need for modern, functional fire stations and retaining the historic and architectural interest of the building. The advice will help London borough conservation officers and London Fire Brigade reach agreement on future refurbishment of fire stations and lead to a consistent approach across the capital.

Nigel Barker, Head of Regional Partnerships, London region said: "The principle of seeking a balance of architectural elegance and functional efficiency within London's historic fire stations is one English Heritage has long endorsed. Adaptation of fire stations to meet purpose is certainly a challenge but it is achievable. This guidance is intended to help those authorities who are faced with applications for alteration and adaptation - there is no single solution that would be appropriate for each station, but we hope that the approach we have outlined will show how the accommodation of a public service within the original building can be realised with vision and commitment."

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "Fire stations play a huge role in allowing us to keep Londoners safe but some of our buildings were originally built for the days when horses pulled fire engines and not for the complex modern vehicles and equipment our fire fighters now have available to them."

A new beginning to maintain a balance between modern fire service and historic fire stations

"We are a 21st century fire service and so our fire stations must allow for a diverse workforce, as well as more advanced, training equipment and vehicles. As fire prevention and community safety are now a core part of our business, our stations must also provide space for fire fighters to meet local people and pass on important advice."

"We recognise that it is also vital that we protect our historic buildings and welcome the partnership work with English Heritage that has resulted in the publication of this guidance. We hope this new guidance will help us to work with local planners and conservation officers to strike the delicate balance between running a modern fire service and protecting our building heritage at an affordable cost."

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