A WEARSIDE grandfather has been appointed head of a fire authority.
Following on from local elections in May, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue has appointed Sunderland city councillor Bob Heron as its new chairman.
Coun Heron took over the position in June from Coun Tom Wright, who had been authority chairman for the past three years.
He joins the other 15 elected members who aim to ensure that Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service provides an effective, economic and efficient service for the people of Wearside.
Coun Heron, 63, represents Copt Hill ward and has been a councillor for 20 years. He serves on a number of committees within Sunderland City Council and he is also a Hetton town councillor and a governor at Bernard Gilpin and Gillas Lane primary schools.
Born in Hetton, where he still lives, Coun Heron began his career as a labourer at Hawthorn mine before becoming an apprentice fitter at Murton and Eppleton collieries.
After the mines closed he worked as a contract mechanic at factories across the North East and in the Midlands.
Coun Heron said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be appointed chairman of such an important organisation.
“My aim is to continue the excellent work of the authority and to help the service achieve its vision of creating the safest community.
“There is no doubt that we face challenging times ahead and some difficult decisions given the scale of the cuts we are facing.
“However, I am determined that we will continue to be one of the best fire and rescue services in the country.”
Announcing the appointment, Chief Fire Officer Iain Bathgate said: “Coun Heron will be a great asset. His previous experience as a member will be beneficial along with his local knowledge. I am confident that he will help us meet the challenges ahead.”
Coun Heron is married and has three children and two grandsons.
In between his council duties and spending time with his family, he runs a community allotment.