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New ambulance station construction underway

Construction work on the new Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] station on the corner of Russell and Queen streets is now well underway.

When the Times-Age visited the site on Monday, construction workers were busy pouring concrete, and the air was filled with a cacophony of clanging tools.

Today we are doing a concrete pour in the ground beams of the office and part of the garage area,” head engineer Michelle Grant said.

“Next, we have another concrete pour to finish the ground beams, and we are hoping that might happen next week.

“Following that, we will look at putting some fill between the ground beams before putting a slab over the top.

“While we are doing the fill and slab, we will also start coming up with the structural steel.”

Grant noted that one section of the concrete where the bunk rooms will be located has already been done.

The build is designated an ‘IL4’ or ‘importance level four building’, meaning it can not only withstand an earthquake but also remain operational in such an event.

The design must withstand a one-in-500-year earthquake, Grant said.

“You have to be conscious of not just a higher level of earthquake shaking but also what the building needs to achieve to be functional,” she said.

“This means making sure any services that run to the building can be fixed if need be, and making sure the windows don’t shatter and break.

“With the way this building is being designed, we call it a two-way multi-frame”, referring to the way in which the vertical steel columns and the concrete foundation tie together.

As part of the earthquake-resilient design, the building is being built with movement in mind because Wairarapa is in a high seismic zone.

“If the earthquake is big enough, the base plates where the columns connect to the foundations will start to flex and yield a little bit,” Grant said.

“We do that on purpose; we ensure that if the movement happens, it is somewhere safe.”

Alongside Grant’s firm LGE Consulting, the companies working on the build include Vorstermans Architects, Quality Builders, Higgins Construction, and Progressive Engineering Company.

As reported on Tuesday, Grant was recently presented with the prestigious MacLean Citation Award by Engineering New Zealand in recognition of her services to the engineering sector and is most noted for her work on earthquake-proof design for buildings.


  1. Building to stand an IL4 that’s great 👍 BUT is our Hospital? Police Station? Fire Station? Schools and ROADS similarly built 💪 like that. 👍. This will be the only building standing in the wairarapa if we have a one in 500 year earthquake 😳 😬. At what cost to the community WHY is everything mentioned above UNSAFE?.

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Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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