Last updated: 11 February 2009
"When he hears the firebell chime, Fireman Sam is there on time. Putting on his coat and hat in less than seven seconds time.
"He's always on the scene, Fireman Sam. And his engine's bright and clean, Fireman Sam. You can not ignore, Sam is the hero next door.
"Driving down the busy streets, greeting people that he meets; someone could be in a jam, so hurry, hurry, Fireman Sam!"
Set in and around the village of Pontypandy in Wales, Fireman Sam depicts the daily adventures of the eponymous hero and his trusted crew.
Fireman Sam, when not fighting fires, is an enthusiastic inventor, and lives in a home which allows him to get ready for work in just 10 seconds. He drives Jupiter the fire engine, which is the pride of Pontypandy Fire Service.
Pontypandy was originally intended to be a mix of the south Wales towns Pontypridd and Tonypandy, although in recent years the village's coastline has mysteriously expanded.
Other members of the Fire Service include Penny Morris, 50s-style rocker Elvis Cridlington and Station Officer Steele. Residents of Pontypandy include gossiping greengrocer Dilys Price and her mischievous son Norman, bus driver Trevor Evans, café owner Bella Lasagne and mountain rescue helicopter pilot Tom Thomas.
Behind the scenes
Fireman Sam is aimed at children aged between two and six, and intends to mix fun stories with a message of safety.
The show began life after two former fire fighters from Kent took their idea for the series to Welsh-language broadcaster S4C. Creators Dave Gingell and Dave Jones were joined by Rob Lee, a Cardiff-based illustrator who helped design and develop the character.
The first Fireman Sam book was published by Egmont in 1985, and he made his TV debut on the BBC and S4C the following year. The original shows were voiced by John Alderton, and were made by Siriol Productions, which also created SuperTed.
The show was a runaway success, and in 2004 was nominated for a children's Bafta. The following year Fireman Sam took to the road, joining a CBeebies arena tour across the UK. The programme remained on the BBC until 2007.
In 2006 HiT Entertainment, home to Bob The Builder, Pingu, Sooty, Thomas and Friends, Wallace and Gromit and a host of other children's characters, acquired 50% of Fireman Sam from S4C (we're not precisely sure which half). New books, a stage show and a magazine followed, and the sixth series was made in high definition CGI.
Today Fireman Sam is broadcast in 90 countries in 25 different languages. More than two million books have been sold worldwide. Fireman Sam has also been used by the UK Fire and Rescue Service to deliver fire safety messages to children.