Berkshire

Slow response to Maidenhead fire 'due to training'

Firefighters took more than the maximum response time to reach a house fire because the nearest crew was at a training session, a fire service said.

The Maidenhead crew was at the session in Reading when the fire started in Grenfell Road, but neither the Slough station nor the Berkshire control room had been told.

It meant crews took more than the 10-minute maximum time to reach the blaze.

The fire service said it had reinforced safety procedures since the incident.

'Unacceptable' incident

Crews at the Slough station should have been notified and put on call to cover the Maidenhead area for the team in the training session in Reading but this was not done.

Olaf Baars, deputy chief fire officer, said: "A fairly junior member of staff trying to do the right thing overlooked some critical safety checks to ensure that it would be safe for them to do what they did [hold a training session].

"It is unacceptable. We believe it is an isolated incident.

"We had safety measures in place, they failed on this occasion, we have now reinforced them."

The fire in July damaged the house but the occupants managed to escape unharmed.

'Increasingly concerned'

It comes after the Fire Brigades Union voiced fears over response times if plans to share control rooms with the Surrey brigade go ahead.

A celebrity-backed campaign failed to stop proposals to shut the Windsor Fire Station from closing at night.

Councillor David Burbage, leader of the Conservative-controlled Windsor and Maidenhead council, said: "I am becoming increasingly concerned and frustrated by the fire service.

"They want to reduce fire services by closing fire stations such as Windsor.

"They say lives will not be put at risk but the series of operational errors in this incident can only reduce confidence in this service."

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