ON-CALL fire stations across Berkshire were unavailable most of the time between January and March this year. 

Pangbourne station was available for just eight per cent of the time in March, while Lambourn was 15 per cent and Mortimer 25 per cent. 

The average over the three months for the seven on-call stations was 42.5 per cent. Crowthorne was the most available, at 85 per cent in January. 

If a fire station is unavailable, the fire service will send engines from nearby stations to respond to incidents. The availability does not directly reflect response times. 

The 12 full time stations however, were available 100 per cent of the time from January to March.

The data was published in a report to the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s management committee, on July 22.  

Steve Foye, deputy chief fire officer, said: “This is a good direction of travel in what is a challenging area. 

“The last 18 months [have seen] very good progress in recruitment. [But] we continue to work on retention.

“It is important to acknowledge the good work by many of our managers who are proactively managing local crewing to ensure 100 per cent appliance availability.

“On-call staff turnover can be higher and less stable. This is because, for many on-call personnel, their fire service role is a secondary form of employment and factors outside of this can alter their ability to maintain their commitment to the role.”