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Raising the roof for Llandysul Fire Brigade

Flood avoidance work completed for local fire station with new storey on fire station and refit, to keep fire crews in the dry

We are delighted to have successfully completed the extension and renovation works to the Llandysul Fire Station on Pencader Road, Pontwelly, providing the brave fire crew with a dry workplace.

Pontwelly is located a stone’s throw from the River Teifi, which is fed by the surrounding undulating hills before it tumbles and meanders down the valley that it lends its name to. However, the quaint river can be transformed into a raging torrent of water after spells of prolonged or heavy rainfall.

As a result, on a number of occasions over the last few years the river has breached its banks and flooded the town of Llandysul, and in particular the local community’s vital fire station. With the increasing regularity of the flooding, and flood waters often reaching a depth of up to 1.2m within the walls of the fire station, the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service decided it was time to do something about it.

LEB Construction was appointed to literally ‘raise the roof’ of the fire station, providing flood-free accommodation for the retained fire staff. Adding a new floor to the single-storey station would allow all the staff offices, WC and shower rooms, breakout rooms and storage facilities to be moved above the flood level and out of harm’s way.

The scope of works for the vertical extension was to be undertaken within a tight 16-week programme, a sequence of works that LEB completed by the third week of August 2022, ahead of time for the typically wet autumnal season.

Tanking works to the ground floor were carried out by others prior to LEB’s appointment, meaning that our first job was to erect a three-storey scaffold, ‘shrink’ wrap it around the sides and add a metal ‘tin hat’ roof to create a weatherproof working environment and provide protection from the elements to the station building. This allowed for the existing flat roof to be removed before structural alterations were made to take the load of the additional storey.

Working closely with the client’s appointed architects and engineers, Lawray Architects and Roger Casey Associates respectively, LEB appointed Lowfield Timber Frames. Over just a few days, Lowfield arrived on-site with the preformed timber panels required for the new walls and roof. Using a mobile crane, the timber frame panels were lifted, lowered and fixed in place. This off-site pre-manufactured approach enabled the tight programme to be achieved.

Work inside could then progress at a pace as the building became watertight following the installation of its new pre-insulated roof cladding system.

Once the existing services had been stripped out, all-new first-fix electrical and mechanical work began, as rooms were formed in timber stud partitions and plasterboard. We could then complete the new suspended metal grid ceiling with inset lighting panels.

New windows were installed and external render was applied to give the fire station its new fresh look.

A metal staircase linking the ground floor and first floor was manufactured off-site and installed. Although the stairs were originally proposed as timber, LEB worked with the team to provide a metal staircase solution to ensure this key component would not be the victim of any future flooding.

As the final works were carried out, painting and decorating, second fixes of MEP, a new staff kitchen and the new toilets and showers were installed and completed.

A shower was installed outside so that returning crews could more easily clean off any dirt, muck and debris from the call out they had just arrived back from. New metal storage racks were manufactured and installed so the returning water rescue teams could hang and dry their wetsuits and equipment.

When asked about the project, LEB Contract Manager Chris Farmery glowingly talked about the input from the local community and the project: “We love construction and the way it can form and improve a community but to undertake these works for the local fire station of Llandysul was a true honour.”

We were so warmly welcomed. People couldn’t do enough for us or be nicer. We shared parking facilities and were allowed to store materials with the neighbouring businesses, including the canoe club, while some locals came and asked if they could reclaim materials from the strip-out and demolition works, making the project ever more sustainable as timbers, insulation and more, found new homes and uses.

Farmery also added that working on a live fire station was a challenge: “The station didn’t close – how could it? So, we made sure that the muster bay was always clear for the fire crews to get to their machines without delay and on the road. We’d get a notification that there was a call out 60–90 seconds before the first responders got to the station, by which time we’d evacuated the main areas of any of our working staff and often opened the engine bay doors to give a little helping hand. We hope that the improvements and extension work to the fire station secure this vital commodity for the Llandysul community for many years to come.”

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