LIFE Team trials innovative dementia sufferer tracking products

Following on from Dementia Awareness Week last week, the multi-agency Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) Team in South Yorkshire have launched a pioneering trial into the use of GPS tracking software to help loved ones locate missing people, particularly those that suffer from dementia.

The LIFE team, which consists of staff from South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, have been working on behalf of all three emergency services in Sheffield since August last year, visiting vulnerable people to reduce fire risks, improve security and help people who have fallen.

Their work has expanded over the last year to include offering support to individuals that are living with dementia and their families or carers, and it is hoped that the trial of GPS tracking devices will offer some much needed reassurance.

Emergency services collaboration lead Temporary Chief Inspector Jenny Lax says: “When a loved one goes missing, it is an incredibly worrying and distressing time. Those concerns increase when that person lives with dementia.

“For police, when we receive a report of a missing person who lives with dementia, it generates a massive response immediately from across the force.

“In partnership with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, we wanted to see what additional support we could offer to those families and carers of those with dementia and that’s why we secured funding to explore the use of GPS trackers.”

The GPS trackers, which provide emergency services with the ability to trace a person’s movements, can be attached to any item that the individual frequently wears or is likely to always have on them, like a watch or a particular pair of shoes.

TCI Lax continues: “We know that those with dementia often feel they need to walk somewhere or retain some sense of routine and it’s important that the trackers are tailored to individual needs so that if they do go missing it’s more likely they’ll have the tracking device in their possession.

“This means that if they are reported missing, we can trace their movements more effectively and locate them much quicker.

“We hope that this trial offers an additional layer of reassurance to those families whose loved ones live with this awful and often debilitating disease, and provides some form of comfort that if they go missing, our emergency services are in a better position to locate them and return them home safely.”

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps added: “This is yet another example of how the LIFE team is working together to produce meaningful outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services for reasons such as dementia, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work as well.”

The LIFE team are currently assessing potential candidates to take part in the trial and individuals that meet a certain set of agreed criteria will be offered a device.

House fires fall across South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire has recorded its lowest ever number of house fires.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it attended 561 accidental house blazes in 2016/17- an 11 per cent drop on the previous year’s figure (629). It’s also nearly half the number attended by the fire service 15 years ago (1008).

Fire officers say the latest figures are proof that its efforts to make people safer are paying off, with firefighters having carried out nearly 300,000 safety checks in people’s homes since 2006.

Staff also spoke to more than 30,000 children last year, as part of its education work in schools and the fire service has run successful campaigns targeting older people, electrical and cooking blazes.

But to maintain the record low figures, bosses say they need to become even more targeted in their prevention work and for local people, organisations and charities to get more involved.

Head of Prevention Steve Helps, said: “South Yorkshire is safer from house fires now than it has been at any time in its history, but people should never become complacent when it comes to fire safety. Every single incident we do attend is someone’s own, personal disaster and, potentially, someone’s tragedy.

“That’s why we need the help of local people and organisations to support our work. Nearly all of the most serious house fires we attend involve some common issues which are often being dealt with by other agencies, or involve people who are known by neighbours or loved ones to be at higher risk. The fire service can often put in place measures to prevent deaths from fire- but only if an individual is referred to us for support.”

Top tips for preventing house fires include:

  • Make sure you have smoke alarms on every floor of your home. Test them regularly.
  • Take extra care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended
  • Don’t overload electric sockets– most can only take a maximum of 13 amps
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children
  • Put out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully

Authority funding scheme’s third bidding round to open later this year

Applications will open later this year for the third round of the Stronger Safety Communities Reserve (SSCR).

The fund is a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority scheme which reinvests money into local communities to support our work to prevent emergencies. The money has been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

More than 40 projects won funding during two previous open bidding rounds, which you can read about here

SSCR Fund Information Event

To help potential applicants prepare for the bidding process, an information event will be held on 4 August at the fire service Training & Development Centre on Beaver Hill Road, Handsworth, Sheffield.

Speakers at the event will include successful applicants from the second open bidding round, including:

  • Edlington Community Association
  • Crisis Skylight South Yorkshire
  • Barnsley NHS Trust Specialist Midwives
  • SpeakUp Self – Advocacy

Delegates will also be advised on the application process, the funding criteria they must meet and the proposed tools for evaluating the successful projects.

Round 3 Timeline

  • Fund open for applications 1 September
  • Closing date for applications 12 noon 30 September
  • SYFR Task and finish groups meet 2 to 14 October to assess applications
  • Assessment board meets w/c 23 October to make recommendations
  • Recommendations for approval for funded projects to Fire Authority on 27 November
  • Approved projects notified w/c 27 November
  • Projects launch 1 January 2018

For more information please contact the SSCR co-ordinator, Toni Tranter on ttranter@syfire.gov.uk

Fire service backs national dementia campaign

The fire service is calling on residents in South Yorkshire to check on older friends, relatives and neighbours who may suffer from memory loss, in a bid to cut house fires.

That’s the message as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue backs Dementia Awareness Week (15-19 May)- a national campaign which raises awareness of dementia and other illnesses that may incur memory loss.

Community safety staff are attending events across the county throughout the week, including dementia cafes and coffee mornings, meeting older people and offering them advice on preventing fires.

The fire service is also training dozens of its own staff to become Dementia Friends- a Government backed initiative which teaches people a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is also a member of the Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Alliance, which is committed to tackling the growing issue of dementia within our communities.

Area Manager Steve Helps said: “People with memory loss issues can be more at risk of having a fire due to for example, forgetting that they have left a pan on the stove. They may then become confused by the smoke alarm sounding and make the wrong decision about what to do, therefore putting themselves in danger.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can offer a home safety check for people with memory issues. These checks can help people to live independently more safely by giving advice about fire safety and offering equipment solutions and support advice.

To access this service residents can call 0114 253 2314 and state that they have a memory issue or that they care for a person with a memory issue and that they would like to arrange a home safety check.

The fire service also offers free smoke alarm test reminders by email, text message or tweet. To sign-up, visit www.pressthebutton.co.uk

Fire service business continuity manager wins top Euro award

A fire service emergency planning manager has won a top European award.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Russ Parramore was named European Business Continuity and Resilience Professional of the Year at the Business Continuity Institute’s annual awards in Edinburgh.

Russ has worked to develop the fire service’s plans to become one of the world’s leading public service authorities on business continuity.

He has previously spoken at the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) World Conference and Exhibition in London, which attracted more than 1,000 delegates from over 100 countries.

Russ also chairs the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) business continuity group, which picked up a team award at the event for its work promoting good business continuity practices amongst fire and rescue services nationally.

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson said: “Business continuity is a hot topic for many large organisations, both public and private, as they seek to work out how they can limit the disruption to their staff and the people they serve after a catastrophic event, which could range from a simple power outage to severe staff shortages.

“It’s a real coup for South Yorkshire and for the fire sector as a whole that Russ has been recognised for his work in this area.”

Top Sheffield firefighter and rope expert made UK rescue assessor

A Sheffield firefighter who is one of the country’s leading rope rescue experts has landed a major role with a top UK training charity.

Jim Lister, aged 46, has been caving in the limestone hills of the Peak District for more than 30 years, as well as saving lives as a rope rescue instructor with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and working as a volunteer for the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation.

Now Jim, from Gleadless, has been made an assessor with the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO), a charitable organisation committed to improving rescue standards throughout the UK.

Jim’s role will see him assessing training challenges and competitions, which are used to teach fire and rescue teams the most effective ways of rescuing people from dangerous situations.

Jim, who is currently based at Parkway fire station, said: “Caving has been a lifelong passion of mine both as a hobby and a career. My cave rescue expertise with Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation has given me an enormous number of skills which I am able to transfer to my day job with the fire service.

“Specifically, my rope rescue skills can be used in a wide variety of rescue situations from building collapses and underground rescues, to road traffic collisions, where perhaps a vehicle has gone over the edge of an embankment and people are trapped inside.

“Rope rescue skills can take years to master though, so by working with UKRO I am pleased to have now been given the opportunity to pass on my learning to people and rescue teams beyond my brilliant colleagues at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

For more information on the UK Rescue Organisation visit www.ukro.org

Successful fire service scheme refers 50 people for sight loss support

The fire service has referred more than 50 people for life changing eyesight support under a successful partnership with charities for the blind.

The referrals have been made thanks to ‘Optimeyes’- a two year partnership between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The scheme has trained dozens of fire service staff in delivering a simple, five minute sight screening tool to assess sight problems. The assessment is now built into the fire service’s established programme of home safety visits.

More than 7,000 people have been given sight loss information by the fire service in South Yorkshire and offered a specially developed screening tool if required, with at least 55 people referred to local charity Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) for further interventions.

One of those helped by the scheme was a Sheffield woman who was referred for support after suffering a blaze in her home.

Dawn Caney, aged 60, was referred for specialist sight loss support after fire service staff noticed cataracts may have contributed to the incident.

Dawn has now spoken to a hospital consultant about undergoing surgery on her cataracts, is visited by a physiotherapist to help her walking and referred to a care agency who help her with day-to-day tasks.

Dawn said: “I noticed that my eyes were getting bad about three years ago when things started to look blurred and I got a lot of headaches. I used to go out to the local shops every day but it got too difficult for me to manage the steps down from my first floor flat, I just couldn’t see the rubbish. I was frightened of slipping, so I stopped going out, except to the rubbish chute. I was also frightened because I didn’t know why I couldn’t see clearly anymore. I thought it was because I smoked and that was what was causing everything to be blurred. Now I know it’s also because I have got cataracts so that’s a bit of a relief in some ways.

“I had an incident at my flat and the fire service came out. They sent a home safety officer out to visit me after that to check that my flat was well protected with smoke alarms and that I knew how to avoid the risks of having another incident. The home safety officer noticed that I couldn’t see clearly and referred me to Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind who I had heard of, but didn’t know how to get in touch with. I also didn’t know that they helped people like me who weren’t totally blind.

“Since then my life has changed a lot, all for the better. A Community Advice Officer from SRSB came to my flat and has arranged appointments and support for me. I’ve been able to tell her all my problems and she always listens and asks me what I want and what I prefer. She gives me time to think about things first so I don’t feel pressured into making decisions. It feels like I have some say in my life again.

“My support worker is helping me to trust people again and I now get out of my flat at least once a week. I would say there have been lots of positive changes in my life since February thanks to being referred to SRSB by the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

Although the two year Optimeyes project has come to an end, fire staff will continue to refer people with sight loss issues to Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind providing a lasting benefit for local people.

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This is all about making every contact we have with local people count. We believe the fire service can play a much wider role in terms of tackling some of the big health challenges our country faces in the future. This scheme is the perfect illustration of that aspiration, where the fire service’s contact with some of the most vulnerable people in society is being used to do more than just prevent house fires.”

For more information on sight loss visit www.rnib.org.uk or for tips on preventing fires visit www.syfire.gov.uk

Hotelier given eight month jail sentence for breach of fire safety laws

The former owner of a Sheffield hotel has been jailed for eight months after breaching fire safety laws.

Amandeep Sandhu, of Turlands Close, Coventry was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday (8 May) after pleading guilty to five charges contrary to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The case was brought following a fire safety inspection of the Cutlers Hotel, George Street, Sheffield by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) on 12 September 2014 when breaches of the Order were discovered.

Due to the lack of a working fire alarm, a Prohibition Notice was served and the 45-room hotel was closed to guests. During a second inspection three days later further fire safety law breaches were discovered.

Charges brought against Mr Sandhu included:

  • A failure to have a suitable fire risk assessment.
  • A failure to ensure the premises was equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms
  • A failure to provide adequate emergency lighting
  • A failure to provide adequate training to staff

Mr Sandhu was sentenced to eight months in prison for each of the breaches, with the sentences to be served concurrently.

Steve Helps, Head of Prevention & Protection, said: “We always try to work positively with businesses to comply with fire safety regulation, but this case is a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to comply with those laws. Had a fire broken out in these premises then there can be little doubt that lives would have been lost. The sentence handed down by the judge should serve as a warning to any business of how seriously breaches of fire safety law are taken.”

A spokesperson from the hotel’s current owners, Saxon Hotels, said: “The Cutlers hotel was purchased from the administrators in January 2015 by Saxon Hotels. We would like to point out that Saxon Hotels has no connection at all to the previous owner. Saxon Hotels takes guest safety seriously and after purchase we undertook an extensive refurbishment and upgrading of the historic city centre hotel which included all aspects of fire and safety systems. We received full approval from the fire services and all other regulatory authorities in order to operate the renovated hotel and we re-opened in September 2015. We are proud to have restored this historic city centre hotel to its former glory and to be welcoming guests from across the world to stay with us and enjoy the city of Sheffield.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. A responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.

SYFR works closely with businesses to ensure they comply with the regulations and inspectors are available to offer practical advice and assistance in this area.

For more information on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and keeping premises safe from fire visit the Business Safety section of our website.

Fire service picks up LGBT employer gong at South Yorkshire awards

The fire service has picked up an award recognising its contribution in supporting LGBT+ issues in South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was named ‘employer of the year’ at the inaugural South Yorkshire LGBT+ Awards in Sheffield.

The award recognised a company or employer which provides an environment that’s supportive and inclusive of all members of its workforce and takes specific measures and actions to ensure staff are working within an equality and diversity focused environment.

The fire service beat off competition from 17 other employers to win the award, which was voted for by the public.

As well as providing a supportive environment for its workforce, the fire service also supports local LGBT+ pride events, including Sheffield Pride, Pride of Rotherham and Sheffield Pinknic.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “This is a real honour and whilst we will always aspire to do more in this area, the award reflects the progress fire services like ours are making towards LGBT equality, which means we are better placed to respond to the issues faced by our employees and the LGBT community. Firefighters, support staff and volunteers come from all walks of life. For LGBT employees, knowing that the organisation and colleagues will support them to be themselves means they can focus on their job which is to make people safer.”

Alison Dyson, who volunteers in the community safety team and attended the event, said: “I am very pleased that the fire service got the award for several reasons. Members of the public voted for us as an employer, which suggests we are doing something right. I feel comfortable here and just one of the team. There can always be room for improvement in any organisation, but from my point of view I think we are heading in the right direction in supporting all of South Yorkshire’s communities.“

Firefighters showcase skills at Stocksbridge Reservoir

Firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue teamed up with Yorkshire Water to highlight the importance of water safety whilst showcasing their water rescue skills.

To support Drowning Prevention Week, the specialist water rescue team from Aston Park attended Underbank Reservoir last week. Crowds gathered at the open water sports centre to watch the firefighters demonstrate a general boat rescue as well as various techniques such as floating walkways and line bagging.

The purpose of this demonstration was to highlight the dangers associated with open water, especially as Summer approaches.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue works closely with communities to educate them of the dangers surrounding open waters – a key part of their prevention work.

Area Manager Steve Helps, Head of Prevention and Protection at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said, ““We regularly receive 999 calls in the summer about people getting into difficulty in water, so it’s only a matter of time before someone’s safety is really put at risk unless people listen to our advice.

“It can be tempting to cool off in the summer months, but stick to a swimming pool. Hundreds of people drown each year in the UK and places like rivers, lakes or flooded quarries are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.”

Darren Lynch, Regional Raw Water Manager at Yorkshire Water said, “Reservoirs may look tempting to take a swim in but they can be killers and today’s practice rescue will hopefully raise awareness of these risks amongst young people. Cold water shock can lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and heart attacks plus water temperatures remain just as cold in summer as in winter.”

Over 400 people die in the water every year in the UK, and firefighters are urging people to follow some basic rules to stay safe.

The dangers of open water are:

  • The water can be much deeper than you expect • Rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs are much colder than you think • Open water can carry water borne diseases, pollutants and bacteria • Cold water dramatically affects your ability to swim • There may be hidden currents, which can pull you under the water • You don’t know what lies beneath, like pieces of rubbish or reeds which can trap or injure you