Fire service addresses concerns surrounding response to The George in Rye blaze

The George in Rye was damaged by a fire on July 20. Picture: Elaine Thomas SUS-191111-163846001
The George in Rye was damaged by a fire on July 20. Picture: Elaine Thomas SUS-191111-163846001

East Sussex fire engines arrived at the scene of a serious fire at The George, in Rye, ‘well within their response standards’, a full operational debrief has confirmed.

The report, compiled by East Sussex Fire, showed two fire engines from Rye had arrived at the scene of the fire on Saturday, July 20, within 11 minutes of the first call to the control centre.

According to the fire service’s own response standards, the first ‘on-call response’ fire engine – like the two used on July 20 – should arrive within 15 minutes of the call 70 per cent of the time. The operational debrief showed both fire engines arrived within this time.

Timeline of events

According to the report, the call to the control centre came in at 4.39am.

Less than a minute later, control centre colleagues ordered two fire engines to the scene from Rye – known as 70p1 and 70p4. The fire service said both of these engines provide ‘on-call response’ and should be on scene within 15 minutes 70 per cent of the time.

Fire engine 70p1 arrived at the scene at 4.48am, according to the report, while fire engine 7op4 arrived at 4.50am.

At a Rye Town Council meeting on August 19, members were able to question the ESFRS Incident Commander Dan Channon and Sergeant Dave Sands about the response to the fire.

In his brief overview, Mr Channon said the first two fire engines arrived at the scene within nine to 11 minutes of the original call.

Mr Channon was asked to clarify whether the response was delayed when the aerial ladder platform – which was requested to help fight the fire from height – took a wrong turn on its approach.

He said this vehicle was ‘slightly delayed’ because the crew initially missed the access at the southern end of The Mint.

However, Mr Channon said ‘the resulting delay was not significant in terms of containment’ because prior to arrival of the platform, the hose jets were reaching the roof.

In a statement on Monday (November 11), East Sussex Fire said: “An aerial ladder platform was also sent to the scene. This provides additional capabilities when a fire can be tackled from height.

“In this case, the aerial ladder platform was requested in case the fire broke through the roof. It arrived before this happened and so was available to be used when it was needed.”

This vehicle came from Hastings, according to Mr Channon, but the fire service said it does not have response standards for these types of vehicles.

The fire service said it would meet with an individual who asked for clarity over this matter while at the Rye Town Council meeting in August.