A “once in a generation” investment worth almost £5 million will breathe new life into an old fire station.

Work will start at the end of the month to refurbish Preston Circus Fire Station in London Road, Brighton, to ensure it “fits the needs of the 21st century and beyond”.

While the landmark building was built in the 1930s, the site has been used for firefighting since 1901.

It will now undergo a significant refurbishment. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said the final designs have been developed collaboratively, using "best practice and collective expertise" to develop a design that will accommodate staff and equipment, improve the building performance and reduce running costs.

The plans focus on the interior and the landmark curved front of the station will be protected.

During the refurbishment, fire crews will operate from an alternative site in Dyke Road, Brighton.

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Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker said: “The fire and rescue service has changed dramatically since this building was constructed and we are pleased that the Fire Authority is investing significantly in our busiest fire station to ensure that our firefighters are provided with a space which is fit for the future and which can continue to provide a vital service to the communities of Brighton and Hove.”

Some £4.9 million is being invested in the refurbishment, which also includes creating an accessible community room.

Tom Walby, station manager for Preston Circus, said his team is excited to see the final results of the project.

“While still maintaining much of the site's valuable history, the crews and support staff are looking forward to returning to a new era in this iconic building,” he said.

“Our plans will also help reduce the risks posed by contaminants to firefighters when carried back to the station on equipment and clothing after incidents.”

The site will be handed over to construction company Morgan Sindall at the end of the month.

Guy Hannell, Morgan Sindall Construction’s Southern Home Counties area director, said: “The Preston Circus Community Fire Station plays a vital role in the local area and we’ve been closely collaborating with East Sussex Fire Authority to give it a new lease of life. This will include upgrading the staff environment, such as with individual sleeping pods and a vital decontamination space. The building’s sustainability performance will also be modernised, with new and efficient heating systems installed. 

“Throughout this project, we will be engaging with the community and leveraging our experience working on heritage sites in busy urban areas to ensure that the refurbishment is conducted as sympathetically as possible. This will include generating social value by supporting students just starting out in construction as well as utilising local businesses and the supply chain.”