Council bosses have pledged to take action after bollards delayed firefighters on their way to a blaze.
Crews were called to The New Chippery, on Market Street, in Wigan town centre, when a fire broke out at around 11.30am on Saturday.
But passers-by reported that fire engines could not get to the chip shop because of bollards blocking their way.
They said the firefighters drove around the town centre looking for alternative access and were delayed by up to 20 minutes.
One passer-by, who asked not to be named, said: “Surely there should be a contingency plan to lower the barriers in an emergency. What if there had been someone trapped in the building? What if an ambulance needed to get through in a life or death situation?
“I saw two fire engines stuck at the bottom of Market Street. One fire engine went around to come up Standishgate and again the barrier was down. Must have been 20 minutes before the fire engine eventually got through and a man told me when I first saw the smoke, that it had been on fire for at least 10 minutes.”
On the Wigan Today Facebook page, Gillian Christian Grey Shawcross wrote: “Good job they all got out safe! Them barriers should have been lowered before they arrived! Good job there was no one trapped!”
It is not the first time the emergency services have been delayed by barriers in the town centre.
In March 2007, 61-year-old Charlie Allan collapsed while in the Halifax bank and died before paramedics could reach him.
In February 2009 they could not get to a woman who had collapsed in the Grand Arcade and a year later a three-year-old girl had to wait more than 30 minutes for medical attention after having a fit in the Halifax bank. Paramedics walked there as they could not get past the bollards.
The problem is now being looked at by Wigan Council.
Mark Tilley, the council’s assistant director for infrastructure, said: “We aware there was an issue with the bollard lowering promptly in Market Street on Saturday and we are investigating this.
“Our staff were on the scene and rectified the situation as quickly as possible.
“We are working together with Greater Manchester Fire And Rescue Service to fully understand the circumstances surrounding this and we will take all steps to make sure that there are no similar delays in future.”
A spokesman for the fire service confirmed they were working with the council and looking into the details surrounding the incident.