Fire officers are expressing their shock and disgust today, May 5, 2011 as a result of one of their fire stations having been burgled and seriously damaged during the night.

Entry was forced into Gateshead West Community Fire Station in Chopwell, Gateshead during the night. A number of computers have been stolen and various rooms within the fire station have been completely ransacked.

The fire and rescue service is estimating that there has been several thousand pounds worth of damage to the fire station. As a result of the damage the fire station is not operational and at this stage it is not known when it will be back in operation.

Area Manager Chris Lowther, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are absolutely appalled that someone could stoop so low as to actually break into, steal from and seriously damage a fire station. We are here to protect the community and cannot believe anyone would want to stop us from being able to do this. I'm sure local people will be as shocked as we are to hear this news. We would appeal to anyone who may know anything about the burglary to contact the police."

The fire station has one fire appliance and is staffed using a rota system from 12 part time oncall firefighters. As well as providing an emergency service the station is used to promote fire safety in the local community. It includes a Community Safety Centre and Young Firefighters Association (YFA) - the station is also used for training.

The community fire station was built in the 1970s and recently had a Community Safety Centre added to the existing station with modern IT presentation capabilities, a meeting room with a computer suite, which are available for the local community to use.

Along with the full time community fire station at Gateshead North Community Fire Station in Swalwell, the fire station covers the Chopwell and Rowlands Gill area of Gateshead. Cover for the area will be provided by Gateshead North Community Fire Station until the fire station is back up and running.

DCI Mark Warcup of Gateshead Area Command said: "We received a report of a burglary at a fire station in Chopwell on Thursday May 5. We attended the scene at 0730 this morning and investigations are underway. We are appealing for any witnesses who may have heard or seen anything suspicious in the area overnight.Officers are patrolling the area and we reassure the community that we are taking action. Anyone with information should contact Gateshead Outer West CID on 03456 043 043 ext 69191."


Posted: 15.34pm, 05.05.11