Concerns have been raised about the impact of cutbacks to Surrey’s fire and rescue service after a fatal fire in Banstead last week.

Emergency services were called to Holly Lane West at around 3am on Friday, March 19.

Six fire engines and a large number of firefighters were deployed by the county fire service in response to the blaze, and remained there into Friday afternoon.

Surrey Police were also in attendance at the blaze in support of their emergency service colleagues.

A spokesperson for the Reigate and Banstead branch of the force confirmed that a person who had been in the property during the fire had sadly been pronounced dead.

Since news of the fatality emerged, the Fire Brigades Union has demanded that a decision on cutbacks to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s coverage be reversed.

It was announced last year that in January, Banstead, Egham, and Painshill stations would no longer be manned overnight, relying on crews from neighbouring areas between 7pm and 7am.

A statement from the regional secretary at the Fire Brigades Union, Joe Weir, read: “I wish to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victim. My thoughts are also with all firefighters who attended this extremely difficult incident.

"Fire Brigades Union officials warned of the dangers surrounding proposals to close fire stations at night, the impact this would have on response times and the impact that would have on the safety of residents in Surrey.

Image via Reigate and Banstead Police / Twitter

Image via Reigate and Banstead Police / Twitter

"In a fire where seconds can literally mean the difference between life and death any increase in response times can result in devastating consequences.

"Leaders of Surrey County Council, along with senior officers of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, accused the Fire Brigades Union of scaremongering when we highlighted the dangers of the Making Surrey Safer Plan, this was simply not the case.

"These leaders must now accept that the proposals are dangerous, they must reverse the decision that saw the removal of seven fire appliances at night and must ensure all appliances have enough firefighters to carry out their job safely and effectively."

In an updated statement on Sunday, an SFRS spokesman said an investigation into the incident was ongoing.

A statement read: “This investigation is currently ongoing however early signs do show us that there were no working smoke alarms and other fire prevention related issues that our service is working towards improving.

“With no smoke alarms and the incident being so early in the morning, therefore less people up and able to raise the alarm, it’s difficult to say anything about any other possible outcomes and we shouldn’t speculate at such an early stage in the investigation.

“Crews attended this call in just under 14 minutes which is over our response time target of 10 minutes averaged across all incidents. This will be part of the wider investigation as well as cause and time the fire started.”