Blaze dad warns of fire brigade cutbacks

Craig Veart.
Craig Veart.

A DAD has praised the fire brigade after they quickly attended a blaze at his home - and expressed fears that lives will be at risk if proposals to make cuts are given the go ahead.

Craig Veart’s house in Ark Royal Close, Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, has been left wrecked with about £10,000 of damage following the fire, which broke out in the loft at around 7pm on Tuesday.

The boiler in the loft had caught fire after an electrical fault and as well as charring beams and belongings, the heat also melted a water cyclinder, the contents of which went crashing down through the bathroom ceiling, and in then into the living room.

Walls, ceilings, carpets, and furniture have all been damaged but Craig still believes the family has been “lucky”, and thinks the aftermath could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for the quick actions of the fire crews from the town’s Stranton station. He also said the prospect of axing brigade services could potentially put people’s lives at risk and leave families dealing with even more damage.

Craig, 43, who lives with wife Andrea, 44, and children Jay Baroncini, 16, Raemie Baroncini, 14, Cieron Veart, seven, and five-year-old Freddie Veart, said : “Luckily Andrea and the kids were out at the time of the fire, there was only me in the house. I heard like a crackling noise from the bathroom and I opened the window to see if it was coming from outside, and when I did I could see water gushing from the roof and loads of smoke.

“I had a look in the loft hatch and saw it was on fire and phoned the fire brigade. They were hear within about four minutes and I could not fault them. They were fantastic and did a great job in minimising the damage.”

Craig, who is well known in local football circles and works in sales, added: “I’ve heard about all these proposals to cut services and I just think it’s absolutely shocking. If there were less fire engines then maybe we wouldn’t have been so lucky. We’ve been left with enough damage as it is, but it could have been worse.

“On another day someone’s life could be at risk. You don’t realise how important firefighters are until you’re put in a position like this.”

Phil Lancaster, director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “The £6m reduction in Government grant over the next four years will undoubtedly place pressures on the Brigade but we are working very hard to ensure it has the least negative impact on service provision and safety.

“We are proposing to retain the same number of fire engines at 21 to serve the Cleveland area. We are however urging members of the public to have their say on the future proposals and they can do this by visiting”