03:36AM, Thursday 19 January 2012
Growing cynicism has greeted a 'u-turn' by the fire authority over the size of the engine to be kept on 24-hour duty in Windsor.
Berkshire Fire Authority's assistant chief officer Paul Southern announced on Friday that a rethink was underway over initial plans to keep a reduced sized appliance in the town. This was welcomed by campaigners, who said a smaller engine would be totally inadequate.
But yesterday Mr Southern admitted that even if the current larger engine stayed, it would still probably only be manned by a crew of three.
Old Windsor parish councillor Malcolm Beer feels that this makes the re-think meaningless.
He said: "It is no use keeping the big fire engine if it can't do anything. I would have thought you would need a crew of at least four or five to be efficient."
A three man crew can only 'go in' in life or death situations. It is also restricted by the fact that the driver cannot drive in firefighting gear and has to change when he gets there - only then can he and a second fire fighter go in together.
The fight to keep any fire engine in the town has been a long one.
The fire authority initially wanted to close Windsor fire station altogether, then to shut it at night.
A compromise solution brokered with the Royal Borough last year saw an agreement reached that would see the fire station at St Mark's Road sold off, while an engine would be kept on a site provided by the borough in Tinkers Lane.
But the Royal Borough is keen to have a crew of at least four on site and is unlikely to be happy with just three firefighters.
The Fire Brigade's Union (FBU) has insisted that the number of firefighters in duty in Windsor is a key issue. Berkshire chairman Maurice Whyte warned that a reduced crew could not deal with serious incidents such as house fires.
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