HEREFORD'S firefighters revealed their plans this week to move to a new station.

Crews said they have needed a new headquarters for 20 years and hope the base could be up and running by next year.

The designs, exhibited at the current fire station on St Owens Street, show how a new base equipped with training facilities would be located just around the corner on Bath Street.

The final plans are expected to be submitted for planning permission in July – and would mean a land swap with Herefordshire Council for the authority's Bath Street offices.

“It’s something the lads have been promised for 20 years,” said Herefordshire's district commander Richie Jordan.

“The tower we have now was designed for when we were using ladders with hooks on the end – everything’s changed since then, it’s not fit for purpose any more.”

The new base would enable crews to carry out training which they currently do in Peterchurch.

It would include a three-storey ‘building’ that could be used for simulations and drills by the county’s crews and also feature facilities designed to accommodate both the firefighters, and the masses of hi-tech kit now required for the job.

Built more than 60 years ago, the St Owens Street station is ill-equipped to store much of new kit that has been developed since then, said Alan Jones, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue's capital projects manager.

In the case of emergencies, vehicles have to be manoeuvred around the site simply to gain access to certain equipment.

However the site is well-located; situated close enough to the city centre and well-placed for access to major roads.

This is one reason why the Bath Street plot would be ideal for the station’s relocation, Mr Jones added.

Under the plans the fire service would take on the majority of the council site on Bath Street, and the council would receive the St Owens Street plot – which has been proposed as a possible site for accommodation for the new University of Hereford.

The costs for the new station itself would be met by capital funding from the fire service.

The public consultation period finishes tomorrow (Friday). For more information, or to give your views on the project, contact .