Tyne and Wear’s chief fire officer is to retire after almost 30 years of service.
Tom Capeling, chief fire officer of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), has today formally announced plans to retire, after 29 years with the organisation.
Tom joined TWFRS as a firefighter in 1988.
In the following years he served at a number of fire stations within Tyne and Wear, as well as fulfilling several specialist roles.
He became assistant chief officer in 2009 and chief fire officer in 2012.
Committed to creating the safest community and protecting the most vulnerable people across Tyne and Wear, Tom received royal recognition when he was awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal (QFSM) in January 2016.
This honour is awarded to members of the UK fire service for distinguished service.
Over the last five years the organisation has delivered a number of improvements and efficiencies.
This has enhanced the range and effectiveness of services provided, reducing risk in local communities whilst also achieving vital savings.
Under Tom’s leadership, TWFRS became the only metropolitan fire service to have zero accidental deaths resulting from dwelling house fires in two separate years – 20112/13 and 2015/16.
Tom said: “Our primary aim is to save lives.
“For Tyne and Wear to have no accidental deaths resulting from house fires, for two years in the last five, is an amazing achievement for our community and our service, and one of which I am extremely proud.”
Tom also sits on various national and regional boards to support the ongoing development of the fire service, and chairs the UK FRS research and development function.
He added: “It has been a great privilege to lead Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service over the last five years.
“The dedication, commitment and calibre of our staff is second to none, and as a result the services we provide are some of the best in the country.
“The fire and rescue service continues to face challenging times in the years ahead.
“I have no doubt that TWFRS will continue to be one of the best organisations in the country, making a real difference to the community we serve.”
Councillor Tom Wright, chairman of Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, said: “Tom has dedicated almost 30 years to TWFRS and to protecting the 1.1 million people who live in the area.
“The last five years have been very challenging, and as Chief Fire Officer Tom has shown exceptional leadership, making a notable difference to the safety of our local communities.
“On behalf of Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, I would like to thank Tom wholeheartedly for his service and wish him every success for the future.”
Tom will retire in April 2017. Tyne and Wear Fire Authority will begin the process to appoint his successor in the next few weeks, with the appointment expected to be confirmed in February 2017.