Category Archives: News

Spate of cooking fires sparks concern

A spate of recent cooking fires across Teesside is causing serious concern at Cleveland Fire Brigade which is urging householders to take extra care in the kitchen.

Firefighters have been called to five house fires in the last month – all of which involved a chip pan that had been left unattended on the cooker. A sixth fire involved clothing which had been placed on top of a hob that was left on.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection for Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We are appealing to all residents as a matter of urgency to take extra care in their kitchens.

“We have been pleading with people for years to chuck out their chip pans so it is worrying that we are still called out to this kind of fire in the home.

“We are urging people to keep an eye on their cooking especially at this time of year when people are traditionally spending more time in the kitchen and can be easily distracted by the festivities going on around them.

“And for those people who are planning nights out – our advice is to prepare a sandwich for when they come home or grab a takeaway to avoid the need to cook under the influence of alcohol. 

“Cleveland Fire Brigade is committed to doing all it can to prevent fires in the home and we urgently need people to follow our advice to help keep them and their loved ones safe from fire.”

Keep your Christmas magical – Don’t let a fire ruin it

Cleveland Fire Brigade is appealing to people to avoid the heartache of a fire this Christmas by taking extra care with cooking, candles and electrical equipment.

Last December alone there were 16 accidental house fires in Teesside. That’s 16 homes and families affected by fire during what should be a happy time. The top causes of the fires were cooking and electrical.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We want people to enjoy all the festivities of Christmas time but we are also urging them to take extra care at a time of year when there are increased dangers around the home.

“Overloading sockets, charging mobiles and laptops overnight,  leaving cooking unattended, keeping candles near curtains or tinsel and  drying clothes on heaters, can all spark disaster and lead to a Christmas going up in flames. This is a magical time of the year and we want to keep it that way.

“Just following a few safe and sensible safety tips can make it a happy Christmas for everyone.”

Top tips for a safe Christmas


  • Stand by your pan – NEVER leave cooking unattended
  • Don’t drink and cook – order a takeaway or eat cold food if drinking
  • Food left too long to reheat in a microwave can easily set on fire
  • Chuck out your chip pan – it could save your life
  • Keep your cooker clean – a build-up of fat can AND does cause fires


  • Don’t overload plug sockets – extension leads and adaptors have a limit to how many amps they can take. Keep one plug per socket
  • Make sure electricals such as hair straighteners, curling tongs and irons are unplugged before leaving the house
  • Don’t leave laptops, tablets and mobile phones charging overnight or when you go out
  • NEVER charge a mobile phone under your pillow while you sleep!
  • Only buy electricals from reputable suppliers and ensure they carry the British or European Safety Mark
  • Switch decorative lights off when you go to bed or leave the house
  • Replace any bulbs that blow
  • Don’t let the bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, like paper or fabrics and other Christmas tree decorations
  • Regularly check for worn or frayed wires – always ensure cables are secured properly to the plug before plugging in anything


  • Always place your candles and tealights on a suitable fire resistant candleholder
  • Keep candles, tealights, matches and lighters out of reach of children and pets
  • Position candles and tealights away from curtains, furniture and anything else that can catch fire
  • Never put tealights on plastic surfaces such as baths
  • Never leave candles and tealights unattended – if you go out or to bed, make sure they are properly out



Grieving Teesside family warns against mixing drink and drugs with driving

The heartbroken family of a teenage girl who died at the hands of a drink and drug driver are throwing their support behind a road safety campaign to keep people safe this Christmas.

Fun-loving student Lucy Pinder was tragically killed after enjoying a day out at Flamingo Land with friends.

Her family said, at that point, life changed for them, with happiness being a distant memory.

They are telling their story and backing Road Safety GB North East and the emergency services across the region as they launch their Christmas Drink/Drug Driving Campaign at Stockton Riverside College today (Nov 30) in the hope that people listen and avoid drink and drugs before getting behind the wheel.

Lucy, 19, from Thornaby, a hairdressing student at Stockton Riverside College, was one of three passengers in the high-powered Mercedes that was being driven at speed by uninsured and unlicensed David Manning in June 2016.

Not long after leaving the North Yorkshire theme park, Manning sped around a right-hand bend, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree and metal post. Lucy was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene.

“Our lives have changed dramatically,” said Lucy’s aunt Gemma Malcolm.

“We are quite strong people but there is only so much you can take and none of us feel happy anymore.

“We are not the same people we used to be. Lucy was always laughing and having fun – she lit up the room when she walked in – and not having her anymore is so painful. I don’t think we will ever get over losing her. I’m really angry. Why did he think it was ok to drive? Why does anyone think they can drive safely after drink and drugs?”

Manning was arrested at the crash scene and later admitted causing death by dangerous driving. He was a disqualified driver and was one-and-a-half times over the alcohol limit. He had also taken cocaine before getting into the car. A car park attendant at Flamingo Land told York Crown Court during the hearing that he had never seen anyone drive away so quickly.

He was jailed for six-and-a-half years and banned from driving for 13 years and three months.

“I just wish that I could turn the clock back and talk to Lucy one more time,” said Gemma.

“I would tell her to always wear a seatbelt and to never get in a car with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs. I know she was a long way from home, and she probably felt she had no choice, but if she had called we would have found another way to get her home.

“I hope people listen and realise that drink and drug driving can kill. Drivers may not kill themselves, but they could kill someone else. Could they live with that?”

Lucy’s death is not the first heartache that the close-knit family have suffered. In 2009, her mum, Michelle who was the older sister of Gemma, died suddenly of a blood clot, leaving behind Lucy, aged just 12, her brother Jack, four, and her partner Neil.

As a result, Lucy spent even more time with her Aunt Gemma and her grandmother, Kathleen, and had just started to go out socialising with them when she died.

“Considering everything she had gone through, she was always happy and never showed how hurt she was,” added Gemma.

“She should still be with us today. The only comfort we have is that both Lucy and Michelle are reunited – buried together in the cemetery. It’s not the way that it should have been though.”

In the five years between 2012 and 2016, 38 people were killed on North East roads due to a suspected drink/drug driver, 268 were seriously injured, and a further 1,344 were slightly injured. In 2015 alone, a particularly bad year, 80 people were killed or seriously injured.

Statistics show that men are much more likely to be involved in a drink/drug drive collision, than women, and the most at-risk group are those aged between 17 and 34. Drivers involved in collisions whilst impaired by alcohol are also likely to be much closer to home than those drivers involved in collisions whilst not over the limit.

Paul Watson, Chairman of RSGB NE, said: “Nobody can imagine the pain that is caused when a loved one loses their life in a road accident, particularly when that collision has happened due to a drink or drug driver. It could so easily have been prevented.

“I don’t believe anyone goes out with the intention to cause a fatal collision, but it could easily happen if you are under the influence.

“We want everyone to have a good time this Christmas, but either organise transport home, or make the decision to be the designated driver. It’s so easy to get carried away, so our advice is to stay off alcohol altogether if you plan to drive.”

Chief Inspector Graham Milne, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Many drivers who would not consider driving after a night in the pub fail to recognise the influence of alcohol on their body the next day, or simply choose to ignore its effects. Drivers need to take responsibility and use alternative means of transport after a heavy night drinking.

“Our officers have to pick up the pieces of families torn apart when a loved one is lost as a result of driving whilst impaired, or at the hands of somebody who is – and it is unacceptable to commit this offence, at any time of the year.

“Throughout December our officers will be carrying out random stop checks over the two counties. We will also be acting on intelligence and members of the public are encouraged to report drink or drug drivers on the anonymous Crimestoppers telephone number 0800 555 111.”

Julie Wilson, Student Services Manager at Stockton Riverside College, said: “This is such an important message for all young people. As a new or even as an experienced driver, it is all too easy to think that something like this will never happen to you, but if and when it does it can be devastating, not just for those directly involved, but all those left to live with the consequences.

“As a college, many of our students fall into the highest risk age group which is why we work closely with road safety campaigns and emergency services across the region throughout the year to help raise awareness.”

Casualties across the North East resulting from collisions involving drink and drug drivers from 2012 to 2016, inclusive:


Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 18 67 325 410
Darlington 4 10 62 76
Gateshead 2 22 111 135
Hartlepool 0 7 45 52
Middlesbrough 0 13 36 49
Newcastle upon Tyne 2 27 136 165
North Tyneside 2 19 107 128
Northumberland 1 43 168 212
Redcar and Cleveland 3 14 58 75
South Tyneside 2 12 64 78
Stockton-on-Tees 1 9 59 69
Sunderland 3 25 173 201
Total 38 268 1,344 1,650



Warning to motorists after over 50% of cars checked in winter safety campaign are found to have faults

Cleveland Fire Brigade is warning motorists to ensure their car is prepared for winter after over 50% of vehicles checked during a winter safety campaign were found to have one or more faults.

The Brigade teamed up with garages National Tyres and Autocare and Kwik Fit to give free two-minute drive-thru checks including tyres, lights, wipers, fluid levels and washer bottle at Coulby Newham Fire Station.

Of the 75 vehicles that were put through the five point safety check by our partner garages, 56 had one or more faults identified and 14 vehicles had multiple faults identified.

This year tyre pressure was found to be a major failing. Almost half the vehicles checked had either under or over inflated tyres.

Seventeen vehicles had low engine oil levels meaning there is an increased risk of over-heating, break-down or the engine seizing. Thirteen cars had bulbs blown, one had a perished tyre and another had the wheel nuts fastened the wrong way round.

Only 19 vehicles had a clean bill of health.

Andrew Bright, Learn and Live Co-ordinator with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Once again we got a great response from motorists calling in to have their cars checked over. It was however worrying that so many deficiencies were found that could have affected driver safety.

“Most of the faults were issues that should be getting picked up with routine driver checks and maintenance. Incorrect tyre pressures was a common failing and is something that can easily affect vehicle handling, stability and braking efficiency.

“A ‘two minute check’ is a vital investment to prevent getting into difficulty on the road – and could even save a life. Our message is don’t wait till your car is next in the garage for MOT or service – it might be too late. Most reputable garages offer a free winter safety check similar to the one we conducted and I would encourage motorists to take the opportunity to have their car checked out  and make sure they don’t get caught out as the weather becomes more challenging.

Mr Bright added his thanks to National Tyres and Autocare and Kwik-Fit who supported the event.

*Although the car checks were free, motorists kindly donated a total of £71 towards The Fire Fighters Charity.”

Warning comes as electrical fires account for over a quarter of accidental house fires

Cleveland Fire Brigade in partnership with leading campaigning charityElectrical Safety First is urging householders to look after their household white goods.

The timely call comes during Electrical Safety Week this week (20-27 November) where Fire and Rescue Services across the country reach out to their communities to remind them how they can reduce the risk of an electrical fire in their home.

Domestic electrical white goods, such as dishwashers, tumble dryers and fridge freezers are one of the leading causes of electrical fires in England. Last year, 1,873 fires were caused by white goods, the equivalent of over five fires per day.

Across Teesside, although the number of accidental house fires have reduced, (171 in 2014/15 to 137 in 2016/17) more than a quarter of them are caused by electrical equipment and a quarter of those are caused by white goods.

Cleveland Fire Brigade and Electrical Safety First have some simple tips to help people use the white goods in their homes safely:

  1. Always buy from a reputable dealer/manufacturer and never buy second hand white goods.
  2. Always register your appliance with the manufacturer so you can be notified if there’s a problem. Visit
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. If you’re concerned about an appliance in your home, use Electrical Safety First’s online product checker to see if it has been recalled.
  5. Visit for advice on using your appliances safely.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “A high number of fires in Teesside are caused by the misuse of electrical appliances and these can be easily prevented.  A house fire can have devastating and long term effects, not only destroying belongings and memories but also putting you and your loved ones at risk. We are urging everybody to follow our simple advice that will help them to stay safe in their homes.”

Phil Buckle, Chief Executive at Electrical Safety First commented: “Electricity is the cause of over half of all domestic house fires in England each year. Faulty appliances and installations along with the misuse of electricity are amongst the major causes of these electrical fires, leading to avoidable deaths and injuries. With more than five fires a day in England caused by white goods, the Government needs to take immediate action to reduce this figure.”