The first new fire station to be built in the county in almost 20 years is being officially opened in north Kent today.

Chairman of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman, Nick Chard is opening the new Ash-cum-Ridley Fire Station is located in Chapel Wood Road, Ash and is one of the new stations being built across the county over the next few years.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service spent three years looking in detail at the emergency response needs of the county and found that in some areas there were more fire stations than were needed, usually due to historic reasons rather than modern day demand.

Other areas needed increased emergency cover and the Ash-cum-Ridley area is one of these.

Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority oversees the way the fire service is run.

Chairman Mr Chard said: “This fire station is a fantastic facility for our firefighters and the local community.

" It will boost Kent’s ability to respond to emergencies, not only in the local area, but when necessary across the county.

“We’ve had a great deal of local support for the new station, not least in terms of our keen and enthusiastic new crew, which is made up of 12 on-call firefighters, including a number of new recruits who were the first to pilot a new approach to training alongside their whole-time colleagues in Thames-side and Dartford.

"This gave them vital hands-on experience before starting their job at Ash-cum-Ridley.

“The new crew are already making a real difference to the safety of the local community by putting their training into practice.

"Since November 2013 they have attended 29 fires and other incidents ranging from road crash rescues to floods in the local area and have also been used to offer support and services where needed in the county.”

The new fire station was built to try to ensure minimal impact on the environment while also offering economic benefits.

It has solar panels, underfloor heating, smart metering, reflective glazing, a recycling system, movement-activated lighting, an energy efficient boiler and water saving taps.

Ecological enhancements were also made to the site to encourage wildlife and plants.