Case study Cleveland Fire Brigade: new control room furniture
Their previous building, an old British Steel Office purchased 32 years ago, was becoming just too expensive to maintain, with repairs of circa £2million required. Therefore it was proposed that a brand new building be provided as a better investment, and funding was obtained to develop the existing site at the Queens Meadow Business Park, Hartlepool. The new purpose-built facility, which was completed in July 2016 when staff moved in, has amalgamated all non-operational services including administration and technical resources, to provide a training and technical hub.
OVERVIEW OF CLIENT
Cleveland Fire Brigade is the fire and rescue service covering Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Hartlepool. It serves a population of around 555,000 and is overseen by Cleveland Fire Authority. The new control room within the main hub at Queens Meadow Business Park, controls 14 fire stations, 8 of which are crewed day and night. Up to five operators receive emergency calls within their area of responsibility, so the control room has a critical function to perform. Adjacent to the control room is a specialised training room for refresher and training of new recruits, this facility can also open up as an extension to the main Control Room during spate conditions (flooding, major incidents etc).
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT
The client undertook extensive research to find a control room furniture manufacturer who would be able to deliver height adjustable consoles that could also be shaped and spaced as they had conceived. This was deemed as being the most important element of the desk, alongside ergonomics and cost. After visiting Thinking Space and other manufacturers, the client decided on a Thinking Space solution, Five unique, individual height adjustable consoles were designed and manufactured by Thinking Space.
It was important for the client to involve their control room staff during the design process. Whilst there was some flexibility for staff to choose their own seating arrangements, all five consoles had to face the video wall which contains critical information for emergency response. The Thinking Space free design service allowed the control room staff to see how the room would pan out with 3D visuals provided, however to satisfy staff, the management team went the extra mile. “We built a cardboard cutout” explained Watch Manager John Whitaker “and placed the desks where they would be positioned in another room, so staff could see what space was available”. This process helped staff to become involved in the decision-making process, an important “buy-in” for the management team.
Branding was also important to the client as the building will play host to many a visitor in future. Feature curved end panels are included on the consoles with the Cleveland Fire Brigade logo, matching other branding within the new building. Special sized drawers on one side of the console allow for handy storage, without compromising on leg room.
The “wow factor” is certainly achieved when viewing the rear of the consoles, which is the first sight for any visitor when entering the control room. The cladding panels at the rear of each console have special ventilation cut-outs in the shape of a flame, with red lighting behind each one creates a flame glowing effect.
Once the design was approved, Thinking Space worked within the clients’ timescales to ensure the control room would be fully operational before July 2016. So that there would be no unforeseen issues during the installation process, the client visited the factory at Thinking Space HQ in Hampshire for an inspection of the assembled consoles. This then gave them the chance to meet the installation team who they would be working with on site with.
"The control room staff adore their new desks and surroundings. When I enter the control room now, I am met with a very satisfied workforce, and several of the staff have personally thanked me for the new facilities. It is a control room we all feel proud of, it has definitely improved our working environment”