A pensioner was killed in a blaze at a house 0.1 mile away from the nearest fire station – but a fire crew was not available to attend.

A 69-year-old woman died in a fire at a house in The Crescent, Princes Risborough, in the early hours of June 10.

Despite it being just a one-minute drive between Princes Risborough Fire Station and The Crescent according to Google Maps, fire crews were instead mobilised from High Wycombe and Aylesbury after panicked 999 calls reported a blaze.

Thames Valley Fire Control Service received a call at 5.26am from an address in the quiet road, saying there was a fire on the ground floor living room of a two-storey house and that someone was still inside.

The first fire crew, from High Wycombe, arrived at the scene at 5.39am.

Bucks Free Press:

Heartbreakingly, a 69-year-old woman was found dead at the scene. Her death is being treated as unexplained and the cause of the fire is being investigated by Thames Valley Police.

A spokesman for Bucks Fire and Rescue admitted when asked by the Bucks Free Press that the Princes Risborough fire crew – who are not stationed there full time, instead acting as an ‘on-call’ team – were not available at the time of the call, although they had been there the previous day.

The spokesman added that Princes Risborough has been identified as a “key recruitment station” and a targeted recruitment campaign had recently been carried out to get more firefighters to join the crew.

Bucks Free Press:

On-call firefighters are professional firefighters, but unlike their full-time colleagues, they usually respond from home or their workplace on a call-by-call basis via a smartphone app.

According to Bucks Fire and Rescue, 60 per cent of all UK fire engines are crewed by on-call firefighters.

Most on-call firefighters are based in rural areas and are given specialist training before they start.

Two firefighters have apparently been recruited and will be joining the station shortly, which Bucks Fire and Rescue says will “further improve availability at this on-call station”.

The spokesman said: “At 5.26am on Wednesday, 10 June, Thames Valley Fire Control Service (TVFCS) received a call from an address in The Crescent, Princes Risborough.

“The caller stated there was a fire in the ground floor living room of a two-storey house and a person was still inside.

“Based on the information available at the time and our mobilising protocols for a person’s reported incident, the three nearest available appliances were mobilised, two from High Wycombe and one from Aylesbury, along with a number of Flexi Duty Officers.

“Crews mobilised at 5.28am and the first crew, from High Wycombe, arrived on scene at 5.39am.

“Firefighters used two hose reels, two sets of breathing apparatus, a ventilation fan and a thermal imaging camera.

“The ground floor was 50 per cent damaged by fire and severely smoke-damaged. The neighbouring house was 20 per cent damaged by smoke.

“Princes Risborough crew were not available at the time of the call, although they had been the previous day.

“Princes Risborough is identified as a key recruitment station. A targeted recruitment campaign was recently undertaken, and two firefighters will shortly be joining the station complement which will further improve availability at this On-Call station.

“We do still have spaces for crew members at a number of our On-Call stations, including Princes Risborough, so if you or someone you know is interested in an opportunity to join us, find out more at bucksfire.gov.uk/blog/becoming-an-on-call-firefighter

Thames Valley Police say the woman’s family are being supported by officers following her death.