FIREFIGHTERS are visiting colleges across Teesside as they continue their campaign to reduce kitchen-related fires by holding a cook-off.

The Kitchen Safety campaign, which will run until the end of February, coincides with the release of Cleveland Fire Brigade’s statistics, which show that there were 168 accidental house fires across last year of which, 110 started in the kitchen.

Students from colleges in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton will compete in a cooking competition with the Inter-College Cookery Final at Hartlepool College of Further Education on Friday, February 15, under the watchful eye of firefighters.

Judges include three chefs; Krimo Bouabda from Hartlepool’s Krimo’s Restaurant, Martin Moore from Yarm’s Lotus Lounge and Alan O’Kane from Wynyard Hall Hotel and Spa and Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection for Cleveland Fire Brigade.

The winning team will receive a week’s training at Wynyard Hall Hotel and Spa plus a meal for each student with an accompanying guest.

Phil Lancaster, director of community protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “This is a really important and high profile campaign as the majority of house fires across Cleveland start in the kitchen and by following a few simple tips, they could be prevented.

“We will be reaching out to all our communities across the area, but in particular, we will be targeting people who we feel are at highest risk and ensure we give them the right advice and support.

“You wouldn’t really think it but the kitchen is the most dangerous room in your home and it’s where the most fires occur– remember your kitchen can kill.”

During the campaign which includes National Chip Week (February 18-24) firefighters will also be out and about spreading safety messages and handing out information.