A doomed Victorian fire brigade headquarters is to be given a new lease of life as an administrative hub for the service in Lancashire.
The grand 120-year-old building at Broughton, which only a month ago was destined for closure, is to house office staff from all over the county as part of a streamlining operation this summer.
The decision comes only weeks after fire chiefs shelved for five years a £10m plan to move their headquarters to a brand new purpose-built office block at the brigade’s training base at Euxton near Chorley because it was too costly in the present climate.
Now, in what is seen as a major U-turn, the brigade will move administration staff in from all parts of the county to work under one roof.
“This is just another of the cost-cutting measures the brigade is having to go through,” said Steve Harman, Fire Brigade Union secretary in Lancashire. “The Government has demanded reductions in expenditure and this is one more way of saving money.”
The Broughton headquarters, built as a private house in 1892 and home to the county’s fire service since 1949, will undergo some refurbishment work before staff arrive between July and September.
The building will lose its control room in the next month as Lancashire becomes part of a regional communications centre at Warrington.
A brigade spokesman said: “With modern IT systems there are opportunities to centralise certain parts of the service. There has been a 25 per cent cut in the government grant, so we have to make £10m savings by April 2016.
“Broughton is an old building and it’s creaking at the seams. But we are still well-housed compared to some.”
The brigade admit there will be “some displacement” of staff around the county into Broughton. But no compulsory redundancies are envisaged.