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Fire service HQ finally opens

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The fire service's long-awaited £7 million headquarters are set to open tomorrow.

The building, beside the A46, near Birstall, will replace the fire authority's former HQ at Glenfield, which has been sold to Leicestershire County Council for about £1 million.

Construction started in 2011 and the site includes an administrative building, community room, gym, rest areas, kitchen, lecture room and training house.

The official unveiling of the new headquarters, by Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Jennifer, Lady Gretton. will take place on April 17.

The ceremony will also include a tree planting in honour of firefighter Bob Miller, who was killed in 2002 while searching a disused factory.

Chief Fire Officer Dave Webb said the plans to move headquarters had been around for a number of years.

"I arrived in 2002 and it's been a debate since then, with a number of possibilities being thrown in," he said.

"At one point we were due to move into Granby Halls, but that fell through.

"We've looked at several other options, too.

"In fact, there have been plans to move from Glenfield since the 1970s.

"There are cuttings from the Mercury talking to the son of a former chief who said 'the services had outgrown the current HQ and we'll be in the new HQ by the early 80s'.

"So no one can accuse us of rushing anything."

Staff at the Glenfield site gathered their belongings and moved out between Friday and Sunday, ready for the new start in Birstall on Tuesday.

Data coordinator Karen Klein was packing up her desk last week in preparation for the big move.

She said: "Moving to Birstall is very exciting. I like new challenges so there is definitely an air of excitement. I have worked here a long time so this will give me a chance to refocus and look at things in a different way.

"It will be quite emotional in a way. I grew up with this place because my mum worked here from 1976, so the Glenfield headquarters has been a part of my life. But I have no regrets. Life changes and moves on."

The upgrade is part of a £35 million scheme.

As well as the authority's administrative headquarters at Birstall, the site will also include a new fire station.

New stations are also being built at Castle Donington, Melton and Coalville, and refurbishments are taking place at Hinckley.

One aspect which will not feature at the new headquarters is the fire control system – the emergency switchboard for the county's service.

This is based at the fire service's southern station in Meridian.

Fire service HQ finally opens


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