Fire chief’s warning as strikes return

Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling
Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling

FIRE chiefs are warning families and businesses to stay safe after further strikes were announced.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) plan to hold further strike action as part of its national dispute with the Government over pensions.

The 24-hour strike will begin at 9am on Tuesday December 9. Read more here.
Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We would like people to take extra care when cooking, and to avoid doing so if they are under the influence of alcohol. More than 60% of house fires we attend start in the kitchen. We would advise people never to leave cooking unattended or to use chip pans.

“We would encourage people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home and to check they work.

“Smoke alarms give you early warning of fire and can mean the difference between life and death, giving you extra time to get out safely. Every household should have an escape plan too and ensure that everyone who lives there knows what it is and what to do should a fire break out. Fire and smoke can spread rapidly within a matter of minutes.

“Finally, if you do have a fire, get out of the house, stay out and call 999.”

Mr Capeling said he and the Fire Authority had a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service as far as is reasonably practicable.

He said: “As with all fire and rescue services, military support and the green goddesses are no longer an option to us in carrying out our duty to protect the public.

“During periods of industrial action, the Service will offer a limited response service. A reduced number of appliances will be strategically placed across Tyne and Wear, according to risk and the ability to maintain the best speed of response.”

He added: “As ever, our appliances will be available to attend incidents across the whole of Tyne and Wear and their attendance at incidents will be prioritised according to the risk to life and property.

“Trained fire service officers, and staff we have recruited and trained will drive and staff a number of our appliances. This includes staff the Service has temporarily recruited who were successful during our last recruitment campaign process, but for whom there were no vacancies at the time. It also includes former military and specialist personnel.”

Mr Capeling said plans had been tested a number of times, but are not designed to replicate the “excellent service” provided by firefighters provide every day of the week.

“However, it is designed to provide a core operational service in the event of industrial action,” he said.

“We hope that talks between the two parties will continue and that the industrial action can still be avoided.”

Information on how people and businesses can stay safe from fire is online at

Fire safety information is also available from local community fire stations or from,