Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team completed its purchase of Marsden Fire Station building, securing its first permanent HQ in 50 years.
After a concerted fundraising effort, Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team is delighted to announce that it has completed the purchase of Marsden's former Fire Station building as its headquarters.
The acquisition of the building marks a major milestone in the history of the team - providing the vital life-saving organisation with the first permanent headquarters in its history.
This achievement also coincides with a major anniversary year - 2015 marks 50 years since the team was founded, following a tragic incident in which two boy scouts sadly lost their lives whilst taking part in a challenge hike on the moors.
The volunteer-based team now responds to an average of 25 to 30 incidents a year, assisting those injured or in difficulty on the moors and crags, searching for missing persons, evacuating casualties from difficult-to-access locations and providing a vital lifeline to the ambulance service during harsh winter conditions.
The team is also an important part of the local civil contingency plans for major incidents and emergency planning.
Although it is primarily concerned with upland and rural areas, the team's operational boundary covers the southern half of West Yorkshire - an area of over 1,000 square kilometres - including diverse geography ranging in altitude from 7m to 580m above sea level.
It is not uncommon for the team to be called in for searches closer to the area's metropolitan centres of Leeds, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Dewsbury Pontefract and Castleford, providing vital assistance and expertise to West Yorkshire Police.
Owen Phillips, an Assistant Leader of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team said: "As the team's role has developed over the years, we have acquired more and more specialist rescue equipment, and having a dedicated building with facilities to store and maintain this equipment is vital.
"We also garage and maintain two emergency vehicles which are kept in a state of constant readiness and require extensive facilities to train our members and keep everyone up to speed with the technicalities of rescue, casualty care and the use of specialist equipment and medical supplies.
"The former Fire Station building at Marsden is perfectly suited to the job, having good road access close to the moors, space for training, dedicated vehicle bays and plenty of space for kit-storage."
The team formerly leased a small portion of the building, but when plans were announced to close the fire station due to cutbacks, they began negotiations with the Fire Authority to purchase the whole building outright.
A deal was struck allowing a deposit to be paid in June 2013, and permitting the team to take up residence in the full building immediately upon the departure of the Fire Service.
The agreement then allowed the remainder of the balance to be paid within two years, sparking a major fundraising effort by the team.
By mid-December 2014, the target was met and the building officially transferred into the hands of the Mountain Rescue Team.
The former Fire Station has been reconfigured to the team's requirements, providing facilities such as a control room for planning managing incidents, gear storage facilities, a drying room, a kitchen, toilets and a training room with AV facilities, as well as dedicated vehicle bays.
The team would like to extend their gratitude to the generosity of the public and local companies and organisations for their kind donations and help with fundraising, however they are conscious of the new responsibility of maintaining a building:
Mr Phillips commented; "Obviously it's fantastic news that we've finally met our target and have given the team a new home for years to come, but in terms of fundraising we're not out of the woods yet.
"Now we have to maintain a building on top of the team's normal day-to-day running costs, so it's vital we keep up the fundraising effort.
"Insurance costs, increased utility bills and the maintenance and security of the building now need to be added to the costs of maintaining and replacing equipment, upkeep of vehicles and the other costs we need to meet to keep the team running.
"We work on an annual budget of £20,000, and the team receives no official funding from Government - all of this money has to be raised by the hard work of our own members, and the generosity of the public and other organisations who recognise our cause."
Members of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team are all unpaid volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and dedicate many hours of their time to training and fundraising on top of their normal day-jobs.
Team members also purchase the majority of their own equipment and claim no reimbursement for fuel or mileage costs when responding to incidents.
To help with the continuing fundraising effort, Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team organises various events throughout the year. 2015 brings a busy schedule of events in celebration of the team's Golden Jubilee.
The calendar will feature a Ceilidh in March and a new Mountain Biking event in July - together with the annual Seven Summits Challenge - an indoor sponsored climbing event - which this year will take place in March, and the Rescue Ramble challenge walk - a fixture in September.
Members of the public are invited to participate in these events to help raise funds for the team and details will be released on the team's website and social media channels throughout the year.
The Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team will host an official opening event for the new headquarters building in April.