DEVELOPERS in Stockton can seek advice on designing safer buildings after a council officer achieved the highest grade in a university degree course.

Raymond Sullivan, 38, who is a senior building control officer at Stockton Borough Council, achieved a first-class honours degree in fire engineering after four years on a day release scheme at Leeds Metropolitan University.

As part of his job, he carries out checks on plans to ensure they comply with building regulations and checks work taking place on building sites to ensure they meet health and safety regulations.

He also consults with the council's planning section, the fire authority and Northumbrian Water.

Mr Sullivan, who has worked with the building control section for 17 years, said: "This has been a really useful and exciting course. We looked at everything from shopping malls to transport terminals, and the wide base of experience should prove invaluable in my work throughout the borough."

Fire engineering, which is a relatively new course, has been developed to assist designers in the creation of more complex and safer buildings, helping them to deal with the increasingly complex flows of people and planning escape routes for emergencies.