The new facility combines and relocates the existing NIFRS Technical Workshops currently located at the NIFRS Training Centre, Boucher Crescent, and the existing NIFRS Transport Workshops and Stores, at NIFRS Headquarters, Lisburn. It creates a new purpose-built complex on the site of the previous Training Facility where the Central Workshops have relocated.
The design was developed with the objective of the NIFRS Mission Statement clearly in mind; “to facilitate the effective and efficient provision of a fire and rescue service”. In this context, the design solution ensures that future operation, buildability, adaptability, flexibility and affordability are built in.
The initial brief was for HLM to develop a concept design for a new facility that combined the current main workshops with several regional / local facilities and the logistical receipt and distribution centre for the whole of the province. The facility was also seen as an opportunity to modernise and change existing functions and processes to meet the changing nature of a modern Fire Service. It very quickly became apparent that the size and operation of the new facility was key to the success of the project, so two parallel studies on the storage capacity and workshop operational work flows were carried out to inform the brief, area schedule and ultimately the cost plan.
This important project presents an opportunity to support the delivery of a fire and rescue service working in partnership with others to ensure the safety and well-being of the users. It was paramount for NIFRS that the design team created a high quality flexible and future-proof facility that can improve the quality of life and work for the staff and the wider communities. Boucher Road is a prime location in Belfast and provides considerable opportunities for NIFRS vehicles to access from both the city fire facilities and via the adjoining motorway network to the wider fire service estate across the province.
NIFRS wanted the building to deliver a fundamental change to their workshop process from separate streams of work and service time for vehicles and equipment to a single process where all equipment would be tested at the same time as the vehicle. These processes fully informed the design response with the signed off process diagrams being used by the design team, client management team and the end users to test the design at every stage. This allowed the successful design and delivery of complex “production” areas including facilities and specialist equipment to repair, test and certify not only vehicles but all equipment ranging from life safety equipment such as BA masks & cylinders, medical oxygen equipment, through to physical testing rigs for equipment such as hoses, ladders & winches.
The design includes a number of appropriate environmental measures to reduce the impact of energy use, and whole life cost of over the lifetime of the building, reflective of the increased cost and burden in fossil fuel use, coupled with the NIFRS’ targets for carbon reduction.
The new building presents a strong and robust design, using a simple yet effective and appropriate material palette. Careful attention has been made to the choice of materials to provide a building requiring only minor maintenance. Powder coated aluminium standing seam which wraps a steel frame from roof to wall of building is a clear demonstration. To the rear, aluminium composite panels suspended from a portal frame. Internally, tough surfaces have been selected including resin flooring in the workshop.
“Thanks to HLM’s dedication, professionalism and interpretation and understanding of the vision of the future for the logistics of NIFRS and turning that into an architectural solution we have what is a first class building that will serve the needs of both the community of Northern Ireland and the employees of NIFRS”
Mr Ian Grimes, NIFRS Head of Fleet, Engineering & Supplies