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Potential reprieve for region's fire services

Last month we told you that five million pounds worth of cuts were approved that would see the closure of Sunderland Central, Wallsend and Gosforth fire stations.

Today, though, the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority says it now may be able to avoid the closures - at least in the short term.

But, the Fire Brigades Union have not greeted the news with enthusiasm.

They say that all the Fire Authority has done is create confusion and uncertainty.

Julie Harrison reports.


Fire dog tested against technology

Scrappy the fire dog is being tested against technology. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The North East's only hydro-carbon detection dog has been put through his paces against the latest technology.

Scrappy has been helping gather evidence at suspicion fires for five months by sniffing out flammable liquids.

He wears a harness and special boots, donated by a North East company, to protect his paws.

Teesside University are comparing the cocker spaniel's skills to devices used by the fire service to detect hydro-carbons like petrol which may have been used to start fires.

So far, they have found that the machine can't trace chemicals after 8-10 days whereas Scrappy has no trouble at all finding the scent.

Chinese Lantern safety tips

Cleveland Fire Brigade has issued Chinese Lantern safety advice ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations. Since 2009 there have been 11 Chinese lantern incidents throughout Cleveland.

“With Chinese New Year almost upon us I appeal to local people to think about the potential consequences of igniting a sky lantern.

“The huge fire at Smethwick in the West Midlands last year is a reminder to us all of the devastation they can cause. As a Brigade we will continue to lobby the Government to introduce legislation to ban sky lanterns.

“Once they are lit and travel into the sky, no-one has any control over where and when they will land. They pose a serious risk to property, wildlife, the environment and people’s lives and the sooner they are banned, the better.”

– PHIL LANCASTER Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Director of Community Protection


-Lanterns must be used by responsible adults only

-Water should always be on hand in case the lanterns catch fire

-The launch area needs to be kept clear of combustible materialsDamaged lanterns must not be used

-Ensure sufficient clearance to avoid obstacles such as trees, powerlines or buildings

-Do not launch near roads, especially major roads or motorways

-Do not launch within five miles of an airport

-Do not launch in wind speeds in excess of five miles per hour (mph)Do not smoke whilst handling lanterns

Fire strike passes without major incident

The latest strike action by fire service crews, in a dispute about pensions, has passed largely without incident.

It began at 7pm on Christmas Eve and ended at midnight.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service has reported attending three incidents during this five hour period.

These were a small fire in Darlington, a burst water pipe at a family home, and a false alarm.

Once again our resilience plans have worked well and I would like to thank people in County Durham and Darlington for taking extra care especially when there are extra pressures at Christmas time. During this most recent period of industrial action, as during the six previous strikes since September, we were able to provide people in County Durham and Darlington Borough with a professional response.We hope that our efforts to warn and inform people to take extra care in the build-up to this strike will carry through to the next period of industrial action, on New Year's Eve."

– Stuart Errington, deputy chief fire officer, County Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue


Warning Ahead Of Fire Brigade Union Strike

County Durham & Darlington Fire Service is urging people to take extra care ahead of a Fire Brigade Union strike this evening. Resources will be reduced for five hours between 7pm to midnight on Christmas Eve.

It's part of the latest round of national strikes by the union in an ongoing dispute with the government about changes to pensions. The next strike is on New Year's Eve.

Householders are advised to check their smoke alarms, drivers are urged to stay safe by slowing down and leaving ample space behind the vehicle in front and those people spending time in the kitchen are reminded not to leave pans unattended and not to cook after drinking alcohol which can be extremely dangerous.

– Stuart Errington Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service

Protest against Sunderland fire station closure plan

Campaigners fighting the closure of Sunderland fire station will hold a demonstration tonight, outside a public meeting about the plans.

The station is the third busiest in Tyne and Wear but the force says it could be covered by surrounding stations.

The fire authority plans to cut a fifth of its firefighters and fire engines to meet 8 million pounds of Government cuts. A consultation about the plans runs till the end of the year.

Unions say they are disappointed the public seem unaware of the proposals.

Firework posted through letterbox on Bonfire Night

Police are appealing for information after a firework was posted through the letterbox of a flat in North Shields on Bonfire Night.

It happened at a property in Chirton West View about 6:20pm. Nobody was injured but the fire caused damage to the door and broke a window inside the property.

"Thankfully no-one was injured in this incident. This is a reckless and dangerous act and the consequences could have been far more serious."

– Det Sgt Peter Morgan, Northumbria Police

Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101, extension 69191.

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