Pottery and bomb at new Guildford fire station
The new Guildford Fire Station, one of three similar projects managed by Sue Hanford
Project manager for Surrey County Council Sue Hanford talks CM through its latest fire station build which delivered unexpected surprises.
I have project managed three of the new build fire station projects on behalf of Surrey County Council.
I have worked with Surrey Fire & Rescue Service for several years now, and in that time I have learnt a great deal about its work and the building and training requirements necessary to facilitate its essential role.
The new Guildford Fire Station is now located close to the previous old building originally built in 1936, and was my first fire station project. Right from the start my brief from Surrey Fire & Rescue Service was the importance of response times and operational assurance.
“Right from the start my brief from Surrey Fire & Rescue Service was the importance of response times and operational assurance.”
Working with the design team and in consultation with SFRS, we designed a building and training site to meet these requirements. The new and subsequent fire stations include features such as enhanced training facilities including a four-storey training house to further improve firefighters’ competency in working at height and dealing with multi-storey incidents.
An area for road traffic collision training allows for more realistic training simulations which mimic likely scenarios. Furthermore, the new fire stations have been built to provide modern, efficient, low cost premises that are fully accessible and meet equality and diversity targets.
Bombs and ancient finds
Prior to the build, however, the site presented us with a number of challenges. Flints and Roman pottery were previously found on the site in the 1970s so I commissioned a team of archaeologists to excavate the site prior to any construction works commencing.
Within the first few days on site the archaeologists unearthed a bomb. The police were called and arranged for the evacuation of the fire station and surrounding buildings, and then the army arrived to carry out a controlled explosion. The bomb was found to be a WWII smoke bomb, most likely used by the Home Guard for training.
The archaeologists could not return to site until checks were carried out to ensure there were no further bombs. There weren’t any, but we lost a couple of weeks until we knew it was safe to return to site.
Mesolithic flints were found, as well as some Roman pottery, but the next occurrence was the discovery of further flints, all within a different area on site. This resulted in some extremely important finds – most unusually the flints had remained in place for thousands of years as they have been dated back to the upper palaeolithic age which goes back to over 10,000 years ago.
The find generated a great deal of excitement in the archaeology world and we had visits from various professors and experts all wanting to see the flints. There was an article in the local paper, and I was subsequently interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey.
I enjoy my job and each time our new fire stations become operational I feel a great sense of achievement.
An area for road traffic collision training allows for more realistic training simulations