Dismay over unmanned Windsor fire station
THE decision to leave Windsor fire station unmanned for four nights last week has been slammed for putting residents at risk - because firefighters were on Olympic Games duty.
There was no one at the station in St Mark's Road, from 8pm on Saturday, July 28, Sunday, July 29, Wednesday, August 1 and Thursday, August 2 - leaving the Windsor area to be covered by pumps at other stations including Slough and Langley.
The station is usually manned at night by firefighters from Slough and other neighbouring stations who crew the engine at Windsor to keep the station open 24-hours.
However, a lack of availability of staff due to the Olympics and holidays meant the station was left empty during four night shifts. A spokeswoman for the fire service said the firefighters were not on duty at Olympic venue Eton Dorney Lake but she could not explain where they were or what they were doing.
Cllr Phill Bicknell, a Royal Borough representative on the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, had not been aware of the lack of overnight cover. When he found out, the councillor, who represents Park ward in Windsor, was dismayed at the situation. He said: "I'm obviously very disappointed."
Andrew Mancey, area manager for response at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), said yesterday (Thursday): "A combination of our operational arrangements for the Olympics and late July/August being a peak time for annual leave led to an unusual situation in which there were insufficient spare firefighters available to crew Windsor fire station at night on four occasions (July 28 and 29, August 1 and 2)."
RBFRS stressed that on those nights crews were called to only one significant incident in the Windsor area which was attended by crews from the Slough and Langley stations who "dealt with the incident successfully within our usual response times".
Michael Rowley, Fire Brigades Union secretary at the Windsor station, said: "It's like a patchwork quilt of service at the moment. Any deficiencies can put the public at risk."