04:59AM, Thursday 05 January 2012
An investigation is to be held as to why it took firefighters twice as long as it should have to reach a hotel fire that saw 500 guests evacuated.
Firefighters from Windsor, Langley and Slough were called to the Beaumont Estate hotel in Burfield Road, Old Windsor on New Years Day just after 5am.
But shocked village councillors are demanding to know why it took firefighters from Slough 12 minutes 42 seconds to get there. The Fire Authority's official 'estimated' time for reaching Old Windsor from Slough is five minutes 43 seconds.
Firefighters from Windsor took nine minutes 40 seconds to arrive - the 'estimated' time for that journey is two minutes 42 seconds.
Rescue Service area manager Andy Mancey admitted this week: "It appears that on this occasion we did not meet our expected response times and we are now investigating the reasons for this."
But the failure has fuelled opposition to plans by Berkshire Fire Authority to close Windsor's fire station in St Mark's Road, keeping a reduced size engine instead at the council depot site in Tinkers Lane crewed by men and women from other stations - if they are available. This system is already being used to keep the threatened St Mark's Road station running.
Old Windsor councillors Malcolm Beer and Lynne Jones both believe Saturday's fire proves that Windsor's existing fire station should be kept with its own permanent crew.
Cllr Jones said: "Slough is clearly too far away and a crew at Windsor borrowed from other stations may lack vital local knowledge when it comes to getting to a fire quickly.
"The hotel fire was New Year's Day at 5am in the morning. There would have been no traffic at all. But it still took twice as long as it was supposed to for the crews to get there."
Fortunately the fire at the Beaumont Hotel was easily dealt with by two firefighters in breathing apparatus using one hose reel. But a positive pressure ventilation fan had to be used to clear the smoke filled corridors and thermal imaging equipment used to confirm the blaze had not spread.
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