FIRE bosses have been questioned for moving a rescue boat from Marlow - to the altogether more landlocked station at Beaconsfield.

The boat is to move tomorrow because of problems recruiting retained firefighters for Marlow, which is not manned around the clock.

Councillor Lin Hazell said: “Beaconsfield is a really long way from the river.

“I have concerns about the boat thundering through lanes to get to the river.

“Is this going to be a permanent arrangement or will you continue to try and recruit for the Marlow station?”

Councillor David Rowlands, chairman of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, said the Beaconsfield crew is available 24 hours a day and are water trained.

He said: “We believe that positioning the boat at Beaconsfield gives a lot better cover for the whole of the south of the county.”

He added: “Recruiting retained people is very difficult in certain parts of Buckinghamshire.”

Marlow Fire Station, in Parkway, is 1.3 miles from the River Thames in Marlow Town Centre – Beaconsfield, in Skelton Close, is 6.6 miles away.

The authority has run several campaigns calling for retained firefighters. Stokenchurch and Great Missenden were also difficult to recruit to, Cllr Rowlands said.

He added it would be “very difficult” to meet a target to recruit women firefighters to make up 15 per cent of the frontline workforce by 2012.

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said the change is part of a £120,000 move to strengthen its water rescue service, including specicialist training for all firefighters.  

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Darryl Keen said: “Although there is no statutory duty requiring fire and rescue services to attend water incidents, there is a clear public expectation that we will do so, and it is obviously in keeping with the wide range of other work that we do to save lives and make people safer.

  “Our review set out to strengthen our resilience to flood rescue incidents, while continuing to ensure that the safety of staff was not compromised.  

“It concluded that enhanced training and equipment would provide a safer system of work at the majority of water-related incidents that we attend, as well as substantially increasing the number of firefighters able to undertake this work.  

“The decision to relocate the fire boat from Marlow to Beaconsfield was taken because of the huge time commitment involved in keeping water rescue crews in the south of the county fully qualified and fully available.

  “Marlow is staffed by firefighters who live locally and are on call to serve their community by being alerted to come in from home or their place of work.

"Beaconsfield is a permanently crewed station which offers far more flexibility in terms of training time.  

  Crews at Beaconsfield have been training locally and in North Wales.

  Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has attended more than 100 water rescue incidents in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes over the past eight years, and has supported other brigades at incidents further afield.

  In 2007 it attended 45 incidents and helped rescue more than 100 people trapped by floods in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire as well as helping more than 50 people to safety during floods affecting Buckingham.