Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has appointed a new Chief Fire Officer.
Tom Capeling, 48, took up the post from Monday 27 February, having worked for the Service for 24 years.
After seven years in the Royal Navy working as a marine engineering mechanic Tom began his career with the fire and rescue service as a firefighter in 1988. He was stationed at Pilgrim Street Fire Station in Newcastle before joining Grindon Fire Station and then progressing to leading firefighter at Fulwell Fire Station in Sunderland. He continued to work in many positions for the Service progressing to Area Manager for Corporate Support in 2007; managing the Service's estates, procurement and stores, fleet maintenance, contingencies and special projects and the Control Room services. For the last three years Tom has been Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Community Safety. This included responsibility for community safety and the Service's frontline emergency response service.
Tom was responsible for leading and developing the Service's workforce development and asset management processes, ensuring the Service's workforce is well trained and ensuring that the estate is well managed and maintained effectively. He was part of the team which relocated the Service's Training Centre and successfully led the implementation of FireLink, the new digital radio network, across the Service. More recently Tom’s focus has been on reducing the risk to the community by improving performance, changing how the Service responds to fires and working with partners to make Tyne and Wear a safer place to live. This work resulted in the lowest number of house fires and injuries ever reported in Tyne and Wear last year.
Speaking about his appointment Tom said: "I am absolutely delighted to be appointed Chief Fire Officer. I firmly believe Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is the best in the country and I am looking forward to continuing our success and ensuring that Tyne and Wear is a safe place to live.
Chairman of Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, Cllr Bob Heron said: "Tom has a wealth of knowledge, expertise and skills which will assist us in taking the Service forward during the very challenging times ahead. I am confident that he will help to ensure we continue to have the best emergency response and prevention services in the country to ensure the safety of our local community."
Tom has replaced Iain Bathgate who was Chief Fire Officer for four years. Iain retired on Friday 24 February after nearly 34 years with the Service.
Tom continued: "There is no doubt that we are facing some very difficult times ahead with significant budget cuts facing us over the next three to five years, but given the dedication and professionalism of the staff who work for the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service I know that we will continue to be one of the best fire and rescue services in the country."
Married with two daughters Tom lives in Sunderland and is a Sunderland AFC supporter. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his family.
Listen to audio clips of Tom talking about his appointment and priorities by downloading the mp3 files below.