SWINDON’s oldest fire station could be sold off to pay for two new centres.

Drove Road fire station, described as “a jewel in the brigade’s crown”, has served Swindon for 50 years but in five years time it could be sharing premises with the Great Western Ambulance station in Queen’s Drive.

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue needs to raise at least £3.75 million for two new stations to service the proposed growth of 35,000 houses in Swindon during the next two decades.

Fire stations would be required in the north east and south east of the town.

John Popowicz, the area manager for Swindon, said it would be a difficult decision to leave the flagship station.

“I have been here for 28 years,” he said.

“I started my career here as did a lot of people and it’s a place that is close to our hearts.

“It’s a jewel in the brigade’s crown.

“But it is celebrating its fifty year anniversary this year. I think the thought of a brand new fire station is always exciting to us.

“We have to prepare ourselves the best way we can for the changes that are going on in Swindon.”

Mr Popowicz said that discussions were still taking place with Swindon Council over how the brigade would respond to the rapid expansion expected by 2026.

But he said it was clear that new facilities would be needed and sacrifices would have to be made to pay for them.

“We have to look at our assets and how they can best be used,” he said.

“We have done a lot of research and practice runs to see where we could site fire stations and how quickly we could respond.

“We are committed to having a presence in the town centre but one of the options we are looking at is to share premises with the ambulance service.”

Jonathan Lofthouse, director of service delivery at Great Western Ambulance Service, said: “There have been some initial conversations between the fire and ambulance services in Swindon that have considered a possible joint site but there are no firm plans at this stage.”

A document drawn up by Wiltshire Fire and Rescue recommends that a new urban fire station should be built by 2014.

It also estimates the pre-tax costs of building two new stations at £3.74m, providing sites are provided free of charge.

The model for future provision of fire stations in Swindon includes operating the Westlea station 24-hours-a-day.

The preferred locations for the two new stations are in the Turnpike area and close to the Great Western Hospital.

Stratton fire station is likely to stay in place under the proposals.

The plans are included in Swindon Council’s draft core strategy – a vision of how growth in Swindon will be managed over the next two decades.

Council leader Rod Bluh said it was clear work would need to be done to the Drove Road fire station area as part of the town centre regeneration.

He said: “Being one of the gateways into Swindon that area needs to be brought up as much as possible. It hasn’t yet been decided how that could be done.”