A MAJOR shake-up of services has been announced by Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS).

Five fire stations will be closed as part of a redevelopment and plans have been announced to build three new fire stations, a new headquarters building and carry out a major expansion of a fourth existing fire station.

In its Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2012-2015 Action Plan AFRS has announced its intention to close Speedwell Fire Station and amalgamate resources at a newly refurbished Kingswood Fire Station. It has also revealed plans to close Keynsham and Brislington fire stations and amalgamate resources at a new strategically located fire station on the Avon Ring Road. The headquarters will be relocated to Keynsham and Temple Fire Station will be redeveloped. Southmead and Patchway fire stations will also be closed and resources amalgamated at a new fire station in the area of the former Filton Airfield.

Kevin Pearson, AFRS chief fire officer, said: “The announcement is the biggest change to the way we deliver our emergency services since the formation of the County of Avon in 1974.

“Many of the fire stations we operate were inherited from four county fire brigades. As a result of developments in road networks over the last 40 years station locations are not where we would chose to put them today. This is an opportunity to place our resources at sites that reflect modern requirements.

“These changes are great news, not only for our staff, but also the community we serve.

“Taking an invest to save approach we are using money we have in reserve and borrowing to deliver these improvements. They will result in no reduction in our operational response standards, no reduction in the quality of vehicles and equipment we provide and no reduction in our community safety prevention activities.

“We are taking a phased approach to the work over the next five years. In the short term improvement works will begin at Kingswood Fire Station and we are actively engaged in plans to move our headquarters to Keynsham.

“We understand that local people care deeply about where their fire stations are located so we will be seeking their views throughout this project.”

Chairman of Avon Fire Authority, Councillor Terry Walker, said: “It’s no secret that public sector budgets are being squeezed. Over the next few years the money we receive from the Government will continue to fall, meaning £4.5 million of further annual savings will need to be found on top of the £6.6 million of savings and efficiencies we have already made since 2010. This means we have no alternative but to look at other options to deliver significant savings in the medium and long term.

“When the first round of austerity measures were announced Avon Fire Authority pledged to do everything it could to ensure there were no compulsory redundancies and that frontline services are protected. Through these plans I am pleased that we will be able to meet this commitment.

“These new fire stations will provide state-of-the-art facilities and ensure the service we provide to the community remains excellent.”

For more information visit www.avonfire.gov.uk. Feedback on the proposals can be submitted by email to future@avonfire.gov.uk or in writing to Avon Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, Temple Back, Bristol, BS1 6EU.