Published: 00:01, 17 June 2014
The first new fire station to be built in Kent in almost 20 years is set to be officially opened today.
Chairman of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority Nick Chard is to unveil the new Ash-cum-Ridley fire station in Chapel Wood Road, Ash.
The opening of the station comes only months after the closure of a station in the nearby village of Horton Kirby in December last year.
Before the closure of Horton Kirby - one of eight to shut its doors in the county - a group of concerned residents opposed the decision and started an unsuccessful "Save the Station" campaign.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) spent three years looking in detail at the emergency response needs of the county and found in some areas there were more fire stations than were needed.
Other areas needed increased emergency cover and the Ash-cum-Ridley area is one of these.
Mr Chard said: "This fire station is a fantastic facility for our firefighters and the local community. It will boost Kent's ability to respond to emergencies, not only in the local area, but when necessary across the county."
He added: "We've had a great deal of local support for the new station, not least in terms of our keen and enthusiastic new crew, which is made up of 12 on-call firefighters, including a number of new recruits who were the first to pilot a new approach to training alongside their whole-time colleagues in Thames-side and Dartford.
"This gave them vital hands-on experience before starting their job at Ash-cum-Ridley.
"The new crew are already making a real difference to the safety of the local community by putting their training into practice..." - Nick Chard, KFRS
"Since November 2013 they have attended 29 fires and other incidents ranging from road crash rescues to floods in the local area and have also been used to offer support and services where needed in the county.
"The new crew are already making a real difference to the safety of the local community by putting their training into practice."
The new fire station has solar panels, underfloor heating, smart metering, reflective glazing, a recycling system, movement-activated lighting, an energy efficient boiler and water saving taps.
Ecological enhancements were also made to the site to encourage wildlife and plants.
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