Northern Ireland's Public Safety Minister Edwin Poots has helped to officially re-open the newly refurbished Community Fire Station in Rathfriland, County Down.
The part-time (retained) station was refurbished and extended following an accidental fire in the Appliance Bay of the Fire Station in July 2009, with the investment providing the area with both better fire cover and a major community hub.
After opening the facility, Mr Poots paid tribute to the "selfless dedication" of Northern Ireland's retained firefighters.
"I am pleased to officially open the refurbished Rathfriland Retained Fire Station today," he added. "Every year, many lives are saved and properties protected by dedicated Firefighters - who often have to deal with very challenging and dangerous situations. The rebuild of this fit for purpose station will ensure a seamless continuation of a firefighting service for the area and the best environment for the 19 firefighters stationed there."
The refurbished station now features a wide range of specialist fire and rescue equipment including a new Fire Appliance with a specialist compressed air foam capability to enhance emergency response in the area. There are also improved outdoor and indoor drill facilities, ample parking, better road access and modern facilities including those specifically for female firefighters and members of the community with disabilities.
Chris Kerr, Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) said: "We are delighted to officially mark the re-opening of the newly refurbished Community Fire Station for our Firefighters and the people of Rathfriland. Since the new Station became fully operational in May 2012, the refurbishment, expansion and modernisation of the Fire Station has provided our Firefighters in Rathfriland with first class training facilities to ensure we have the most highly skilled Firefighters to help protect our community.
"I would like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of Rathfriland Firefighters. Despite operating from temporary accommodation in the town while work was underway at the Fire Station, they continued to deliver a prompt, high quality and professional emergency response to 85 incidents in the local area in the last year alone. They continue to provide the first class fire and rescue service that we have come to expect from the men and women of NIFRS.
"I would also like to thank the local community in Rathfriland for their support and we invite them to make use of their new Community Fire Station and we look forward to working with them to make this Community Fire Station a success."
Posted 29/01/13 by firstname.lastname@example.org