Celebrate safely this Chinese New Year

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue wises everyone taking part in Chinese New Year festivities a happy and safe celebration.

Chinese New Year (28 January 2017) is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.  For many it’s a time to celebrate the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.

With more people at home – cooking while entertaining or relaxing with family or friends, the risk of fire increases.  People are more likely to be distracted during this time of year and therefore more vulnerable to fire.

Safety tips:

  • Most fires start in the kitchen – never leave cooking unattended. When cooking deep-fried food, never fill the pan more than one-third full of oil. Never throw water over the pan.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and animals – children should be supervised at all times near flames. Keep flames from candles at a safe distance from curtains, furniture and decorations.
  • Treat fireworks with caution – only buy fireworks marked with British Safety Standard 7114 and always read the instructions.
  • We would encourage you not to use flying lanterns -but if you do use them, please always read the manufacturers instructions before use.
  • Avoid overloading electrical sockets – try to remember, one plug – one socket. If you must have more plugs connected always use a fused adaptor.

Victor-y for polar bear helped by firefighters

A health check-up for the country’s oldest and most popular polar bear has been carried out with military precision.

Victor, a visitors’ favourite at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park, was in the care of a 30-strong team for a procedure that took more than a month to plan.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue helped lift the 18-year-old, who weighs in at 530kg, into position for a team of specialist vets and dentists to conduct a battery of tests during the appointment.

Victor was anaesthetised for two hours but was back on his feet within half an hour in a successful operation to ensure he was in tip-top condition.

“At YWP we have very high animal welfare standards. We could see that one of Victor’s canine teeth looked a slightly different colour to the rest of his teeth so we wanted to investigate and it was an opportunity to give him a full MOT.  To bring all the specialists together took a month to plan. We are delighted that it all went very well, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team,” said Simon Marsh, Animals Collections Manager at the park, at Branton, near Doncaster.

“Victor was very relaxed and was quickly back to his old self after the two-hour procedure.”

“He has made a full recovery from the experience and initial findings are that he is very well for an 18-year-old bear. We are waiting on the test results from the samples we took from him but we are all happy that Victor is a happy and healthy polar bear.”

The operation began a month ago with the YWP Animal Team, Portland House Veterinary Group (based in Retford), IZVG (International Zoo Veterinary Group based in Keighley) and Zoodent, a specialist animal dentist (based in London) , drawing up a strategy for the first time a polar bear had been anaesthetized at the 100-acre park.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue whose firefighters are trained in using specialist animal rescue equipment was called in for extensive planning on how to move Victor for the vet team to carry out their checks.

The day started at 8.30 am with the veterinary team setting up their kit and the fire service assembling lifting gear.

“Timing was critical as we only had a small window to get Victor moved and in position to allow the vets to get him connected to the anaesthetic machine,” added Mr Marsh.

“Also with over 30 people involved and working in the relatively small area of Victor’s den, we had to make sure people move in and out at the precise time they were needed.”

Kim Wilkins, YWP’s Carnivore Team Leader and Andrew Greenwood, from IZVG, administered the anaesthetic injection to Victor who had been gradually familiarised with the technique so he was relaxed.

“For Victor to be relaxed and trusting enough for us to inject him took months of animal training. Veterinary procedures are out of the ordinary for animals and by keeping Victor calm, it made it safer for him whilst under the anaesthetic” said Ms Wilkins.

Park rangers and the fire service team placed Victor onto a cargo net and lifted him into place.

Specialist dentist Peter Kertesz, of Zoodent, and the veterinary team carried out extensive tests that were completed in under two hours.

“Although we had prepared as much as we could we had no idea how it would go, and if it was even going to be possible, but with excellent team work we quickly and smoothly managed to move Victor,” said Mr Marsh.

“Once he was in positon, the Fire Service moved out and the dentist and vets moved back in to carry out a comprehensive health check, looking at his 42 teeth, joints, feet and claws. We took x-rays, blood samples and swabs for a battery of tests to make sure Victor is in tip top condition.”

“As soon as the vets and dentist had finished their procedures, the Fire Service moved back in and helped the Rangers move Victor back and we could start his recovery. He was back on his feet within half an hour. He was under the anaesthetic for no more than 2 hours and the whole event from start to finish lasted 5 hours”.

“It was handled very professionally and efficiently and YWP is thankful for the expertise and care of the team and would particularly thank South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for their help.”

Fire Station Manager, Dave Scully said: “This was certainly an unprecedented request for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

“Whilst we wouldn’t routinely use our services in this way, we recognised Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s need for support during this complex operation due to the size of the animal. It meant Victor was able to receive the necessary medical treatment whilst allowing our crews the opportunity to test their skills using specialist animal rescue equipment. A happy ending for all involved!”

The team:

5 Vets
1 Vet Nurse
1 Zoo Dentist
1 Zoo Dental Nurse
11 Firefighters
11 YWP Rangers and Staff

Victor is now happily back out in Project Polar at the Park with the other polar bears, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby.


Public’s views sought on fire service Council Tax choice

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on what the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) council tax precept should be for 2017-18. The aim of the consultation is to gain an understanding as to the public’s preferred level of the precept- 1.97% or no increase.

Current indications are that SYFR will lose around £2 million in its Government funding in 2017/18, when compared with 2016/17.

Householders in Band D currently pay £67.33 per year for their Fire and Rescue Service, around £1.29 per week. The decision to increase council tax would raise around £441,000 in annual funding for the fire service.

Fire Authority Members will make their decision on Council Tax at the fire and rescue authority meeting on Monday 13 February.

To share your views, please fill in the short survey below. The survey closes on 31 January.

Fire service sprinklers warning as funding scheme launched

Fire officers are calling on South Yorkshire’s housing providers to install sprinklers to help protect vulnerable residents from fire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) attends dozens of serious house fires every year in social housing and sheltered accommodation.

To help tackle the problem and increase the number of sprinkler systems fitted across the county, the fire service has announced a  £1 million fund to encourage more housing providers to install them in buildings lived in by those residents most at risk from fire.

Dozens of delegates attended an event in Sheffield this week which launched the fund and explained to businesses, charities and social housing landlords the benefits of this potentially lifesaving fire safety equipment.

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making homes safer – they stop fires from spreading, put them out quickly and save lives. We are especially concerned about those people who are most at risk of fire such as those with mobility or mental health problems or people with dementia who may not know how to react, or be able to react quickly enough, if they hear a smoke alarm.

“We play a key leadership role in helping people to better understand the benefits of sprinklers as part our commitment to reduce the impact of fire on people, property and the environment and this funding is the best possible evidence of our commitment to that goal.”

SYFR is one of the leading fire services in the country for its pioneering use of sprinklers in high risk residential settings, leading a UK first project to retrofit an automated system at the Callow Mount block of flats in Gleadless. That scheme is now internationally recognised for the improved safety it offers the people living within the building.

It has also worked alongside Sheffield City Council to make more than 540 properties in the city safer by installing lifesaving sprinkler systems at council owned flats in Gleadless Valley, Westfield, Stannington and Netherthorpe. This project was another UK first.

The installation of sprinkler systems in new build homes is now mandatory in Wales and SYFR is actively promoting the use of this type of protection in all types of buildings to build resilience and safety into local communities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund is open to any social  or private housing provider. It will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.  It forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

The funding application form can be downloaded here. The deadline for applications is 10 March.

Beware of magazine advertising scam

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is warning businesses to be aware of a scam in which rogue publishers are offering advertising space in a publication they claim they are producing on behalf of the fire service.

The rogue publishers make unsolicited telephone calls to businesses, in particular small businesses, doctors’ surgeries and dental practices offering advertising space in a magazine they claim is produced by the fire service.

The cost of the ‘advert’ can range from £50 to anything up to £1000. However, once you have paid you’ll find the publication either doesn’t exist or only a handful of copies are printed. Generally, if the call is bogus, the caller will only provide a PO box address and the phone number will be blocked.

If you receive an unsolicited call from a publishing company:

  • Don’t agree to anything until you are given full details of the publishing company and what you will get for your money
  • Ask to see terms and conditions before agreeing anything
  • Read all small print of any contract carefully
  • Establish how many copies are being published, where they will be distributed and how, and where can you get hold of a copy
  • If you are told that someone from your company has already verbally agreed to place an advert get full details of who and when, and check with the member of staff before agreeing anything further
  • Ask which other companies in your area have taken advertising space and contact them to see if the caller is genuine
  • If you receive a demand for payment, which could be over the phone or via an ‘invoice’ respond to the demand stating why you do not owe any money

Businesses which may have been contacted in this way should report any details they may have to Action Fraud.

Recruiting now for life changing Prince’s Trust course

Fire and police in South Yorkshire are teaming up to deliver two Princes Trust courses to be jointly run by both 999 services.

The two emergency services are calling on young people to sign up for the Princes Trust Team Programme, with the two courses running in January and February 2017.

Team Programme is a 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 to 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

Individuals will gain new skills and qualifications, mix with new people and make new friends, get help with job-hunting and CV writing and most importantly a big boost to their confidence and a real sense of achievement.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Leader John Daley said; “We are really excited by the prospect of the joint course and what we will be able to deliver to the young people taking part. The course will include team building exercises, work placements, CV writing and loads more, which will give them a real sense of purpose and achievement.”

South Yorkshire Police Deputy Team Leader Paul Hamshaw said; “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people who are out of education or employment to come and learn new skills, meet new friends, take part in an action packed residential trip and gain work experience, all completely free.

“This is a unique programme, during which you can gain an insight into the police and fire services. If you’re not completely sure if this is for you, give us a call and we can talk to you about what is expected – you won’t be disappointed with the programme.”

Devon Hazeldine, member of a previous SYFR Team Programme  and now working  as a volunteer and mentor on the Prince’s Trust Programme said; “This course has enabled me to build my confidence and gain new experiences. I have really enjoyed my time and would say to anybody who wants to learn about themselves, their community and get ahead in life the Prince’s Trust Team programme is worth getting on.”

To be part of the Team Programme or for further details contact Rhian Oxley on 07919 565122 or princestrust@syfire.gov.uk.