I was proud to see two new fire stations open in Sheffield last month, at Parkway and Birley Moor.
As well as providing a much better working environment for the firefighters stationed there, the new facilities are the perfect illustration of how the fire service has changed over the last century.
Where once fire stations were built to address building risks, which for Sheffield tended to centre on the city’s major industrial areas and its many steelworks, nowadays we plan our resources around protecting lives.
That’s why we put so much work into choosing the right sites for the stations, as they will enable us to provide a better service to our communities, particularly people living in the south and south-east of Sheffield.
The opening of the new fire stations coincides with the closure of three of our older buildings.
I am sure many people who lived close to the stations at Mansfield Road, Mosborough and Darnall will have very fond memories of them - from fire station open days to the valuable work the firefighters stationed there did to keep communities safe over the decades.
Darnall fire station opened in 1956 and Mansfield Road in 1965.
Mosborough transferred from Derbyshire to Sheffield Fire Brigade in 1967.
But having served the county for more than half a century, their lives as working fire stations had come to an end.
The new, full-time station at Birley Moor will cover a much greater area of South Yorkshire than the former part-time station at Mosborough, right on the Derbyshire border, was able to.
It will house one full-time and one part-time fire engine.
The new Parkway station will be better placed to protect new housing developments in the area, plus attend road traffic collisions on Sheffield Parkway and access the nearby road infrastructure.
It will house a full-time fire engine and one of our two new turntable ladders - another innovation which I have been proud to have overseen.
I recently learned that Sheffield Fire Brigade - one of the four district brigades which went on to form South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 1984- became the first fire service in the country to purchase a turntable ladder in 1903.
More than 100 years later, it’s pleasing that we are continuing to provide our firefighters with the very best kit to carry out their valuable work.
Aerial appliances are important vehicles because they allow us to tackle fires from above and rescue people from height in a way we are not able to do with a traditional fire engine.
Our two new turntable ladders were chosen with the help of the people who will use them every day - frontline firefighters.
The overwhelming feedback from our staff was that these appliances are the best specification vehicles currently on the market.
What both these new vehicles and our new fire stations highlight is that, in spite of a challenging economic backdrop, we are relentlessly committed to providing the best possible fire cover to the people of South Yorkshire.
* James Courtney, Chief Fire Officer