CRAVEN'S new fire chief Tim Ralph is planning to make the district think hard about how it can help prevent fires and road accidents.

Mr Ralph is based at Skipton Fire Station and as the new group manager is responsible for improving the performance of the district's fire service, and promoting fire safety and prevention.

He joined the fire service in 1978 in Hertfordshire and worked in London's East End before transferring to North Yorkshire about 12 years ago.

He has been the brigade's emergency planning officer, operational area manager for Ripon, fire safety manager and the performance manager for the Western Area.

The emphasis for Craven fire officers in the coming months will be on education and fire prevention, said Mr Ralph.

He hoped to develop and extend three schemes in particular which had already been launched.

The first was to encourage more people to fit smoke detectors in their homes.

"We provide smoke detectors for a donation of £10. It is free for single parent families and those on income support," said Mr Ralph. The devices are fitted free of charge and the fire officer will also complete a fire safety check of the home.

Mr Ralph also hopes to extend the Siren scheme during which officers from the police, the fire service and the ambulance service crack down on speeding motorists.

The police will stop a speeding car and speak to the driver, the fire officer will show the culprit photos of road accidents and then the paramedic will be on hand to talk about what happens to the body during an accident.

The third priority will be to cut the number of unwanted or false fire calls from automatic fire alarm systems.

Mr Ralph said that if both fire engines were deployed from Skipton to a call which turned out to be a false alarm, it could delay a response to a serious fire or road accident. If the Skipton engines were out on a false call, other appliances from further afield would have to be sent to the real incident.

Anyone having problems with an automatic fire alarm system should get in touch with Mr Ralph at the fire station on Broughton Road.

He added that officers from the fire service were available to speak in primary schools and that a new scheme entitled Living Dangerously could be held in secondary schools.