Fire service highlights community impact after South Yorkshire man’s life turned around

The story of a South Yorkshire man whose life was transformed by safety staff is being used to highlight the fire service’s positive impact on the county’s high risk residents.

Fire officers say the work of their firefighters and community safety teams goes much further than preventing house blazes and that, in many cases, no other agency is better at putting vulnerable residents in touch with the support they need.

The resident whose story they are highlighting was referred for extra support after safety staff visited his home to fit smoke alarms, and noticed that he needed help from a range of other agencies.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Community Safety Manager Amanda Thompson, said: “A housing provider made a referral for a man called John* to receive a home safety check, whereby fire service staff visit someone’s home to talk to them about preventing emergencies and to fit free smoke alarms where needed. The fire service staff who visited immediately raised concerns about the John’s living conditions.

“Following the initial home safety visit, arrangements were made to carry out a joint visit with a housing officer after several failed attempts to gain access to the property. The resident would not engage with the housing officer, however he did allow our community safety officers to enter some of the rooms, albeit reluctantly.

“Our staff found the property to be in a filthy state. The house was cold and damp and the resident said he could not afford to put the heating on and did not have any hot meals- just cold sandwiches. He had limited mobility and had a mobility scooter, but he had to lift this over the threshold and up and down two external steps. Our staff also learned that John used a colostomy bag and his clothes were also very dirty. He was also known to be alcohol dependent.

“As a result of our visit, an urgent call was made to a care team and for a full needs assessment. By building up a relationship with John, our staff pushed for him to access a number of other services which he might not otherwise have accessed.

“Those services included housing repairs and a deep clean of the property and access to a specialist social worker who reviewed John’s finances, meaning that he could heat his home.

“We also provided ‘hot pack’ meals, arranged for a delivery from a local food bank, worked with a local charity to provide extra clothing, located a new microwave and kettle and provided a ‘warm pack’ containing blankets, soups, thermal hand warmers, gloves and socks.

“John’s progress is being monitored by a social worker together with follow up visits by fire service staff and a housing officer. John is now much more receptive to engaging with services and his general health and well being and living conditions improved as a result of our intervention.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue visits more than 20,000 homes every year to fit smoke alarms and provide safety advice. This includes hundreds of repeat visits to people who have been identified as being particularly high risk.

For more information about organisations signing up to become referral partners with the fire service, visit www.syfire.gov.uk/ safe-well

Praise for firefighters who rescued dogs from Doncaster house blaze

Firefighters have been praised for rescuing two lucky dogs from a smoke filled house in Doncaster.

The fortunate four pawed friends were home alone in the kitchen of the house on Princess Street, Woodlands on Thursday (16 November) when the cooker ignited at around 4.30pm. Firefighters think that laundry left on the hob could have started the blaze.

The fire was discovered when the dogs’ owner returned home having taken her young son to a hospital appointment in Sheffield. On seeing her house filled with smoke, she did the right thing and immediately dialled 999.

Adwick, Doncaster and Edlington blue watch firefighters rushed to the scene and entered the property wearing breathing apparatus to rescue the stricken pooches.

The canines- a six-month-old cock-a-poo called Ebony and a two-year-old jack-a-poo named Jet- were both found in a side room within the kitchen.

Despite thick black smoke billowing round the room a vet check later found that they were both healthy, although Jet had suffered some scorched fur as the high temperatures from the blaze heated the metal clasps on his collar.

Unfortunately, there was significant damage to the cooker, kitchen wall and surrounding appliances. The rest of the house was also badly smoke logged.

Firefighters returned the next day to meet the dogs and their owner.

Watch Manager John Cox said: “Blue watch firefighters did a brilliant job using breathing apparatus to find the pets, bring them to safety and put out the fire- all in a matter of minutes. This was a serious fire which caused significant damage, but it was great to return to the property to meet the dogs and their owner properly in calmer circumstances and we’re really pleased that they both appear to be doing ok.”

Owner Shaleen Ross said: “I just want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to the firefighters who did an absolutely amazing job rescuing my dogs who I love so much. They worked so quickly and no words can say how grateful I am. The 999 control operator also did a brilliant job to keep me calm on the phone and I just think that everyone at the fire service does such a wonderful job.”

It’s thought that smoke alarms had been sounding for over an hour, but no one raised the alarm until Shaleen returned home.

Barnsley community garden transformed by Prince’s Trust Team

A team of young people taking part in a major local youth development programme have unveiled their hard work and transformation of a community garden.

The group, who are taking part in the Prince’s Trust Team Programme spent a week designing and creating the garden at the Athersley North Community Shop, a hub for local people on low incomes to meet socially and take part in workshops and training classes.

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is being delivered by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police from Barnsley fire station. Team Programme is a 12 week course for unemployed 16 to 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical training and a residential development week.

The programme encourages the young people to nominate their own community project, with those on the current scheme choosing to transform this community garden for the local people.  A new footpath and patio area have been created, along with new plants and shrubs and the team even produced handmade garden furniture.

The group were able to fund the transformation after raising cash from a car wash and sponsored walk the week before.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Leader Rhian Oxley said: “Team Programme is about more than simply boosting young people’s employment skills. It gives them hope, confidence and the opportunity to make a difference.

“The community project the young people have been involved in is the perfect proof of what they can achieve and the self-belief which they can transfer to their future lives.”

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Update on round 3 of Fire Authority funding

Work has been taking place around round three of the Fire Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

The latest funding will be allocated for projects which meet specific criteria, which include tackling water safety, arson and road traffic collisions. Other key priorities include working with those with mental health issues, people from excluded groups including BAME and faith communities and health and social care issues.

The timeline for the allocation of the funding is as follows:

Stage 1             Complete 29 September

Applicants submitted an Expression of Interest detailing the proposal for their project. We received a total of 48 applications into Round 3 of the fund.

Stage 2             Complete 10 November

Applications initially went through 2 days of officer review and sift. Projects were assessed in line with the assessment process provided within the information packs. The scoring matrix and information was then provided to the Assessment Board on the 10th November for evaluation, selection, and recommendations to the full Fire Authority.

Stage 3

Recommendations will be made to the Fire Authority for approval. This is expected to take place on the 27 November.

Stage 4

Successful projects will be notified during the week commencing 27 November and invited to an Induction Day with SYFR during December. Date currently scheduled for the 11 December.

Stage 5

Successful projects start 8 January 2018.

For more information email ttranter@syfire.gov.uk.

Award win for South Yorks Prince’s Trust teams

Young people who have spent three months gaining new and exciting valuable work experience were awarded for their efforts last night.

These former Prince’s Trust team members were presented with two awards at the Leeds Grand Theatre as they were recognised for both their individual and team projects.

John Daley, from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, who runs the programme and attended the awards with the recruits, said he was incredibly proud that their work had been recognised at a regional level.

“It was a fantastic evening which was enjoyed by all and I’m thrilled that the recruits from the programme were awarded for all of their hard work over a 12 week period,” he said.

The programme is delivered by South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and involves 16-25-year-olds taking part in everything from team building exercises to community based projects.

The first award winner of the night was Tara Nortcliffe, who was awarded the Prince’s Trust Rising Star.

John said: “Tara beat off competition from around the region and was recognised for overcoming many obstacles in her life and is now embarking on a new chapter thanks to the support of the team leaders of the programme, Rhian Oxley and Paul Newman MBE.”

The second award went to the Dearne Team, who were recognised for their work during a community project at Manvers Lake.

John said: “Dearne Team 2 overcame the weather during storm Doris in one of the largest projects we have undertaken to date.

“The Friends of Manvers Lake now continue the hard work the team began and I’m incredibly pleased they were presented with an award.

“The Princes Trust is a really exciting programme to be a part of and offers fantastic learning and development opportunities.

“I’d like to say a massive well done to the award winners and to everyone involved in the programme so far, they have all done really well.”

To be part of the next Team Programme please contact John Daley on 07769 887249 or princestrust@syfire.gov.uk

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue employee wins international award

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) Emergency Planning Officer has received a top global award.

Russ Parramore attended the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) Global Awards event which took place in London, where he was the winner of the Global Continuity and Resilience Professional (Public Sector) 2017 award.

Russ joined SYFR as Emergency Planning Officer in August 2010. Over the next seven years Russ took the BCI Certificate, became an Associate Member of the BCI, a Certified Lead Auditor for the BC International Standard and the European award winner for Continuity and Resilience Professional 2016 and 2017. He has attended and hosted meetings and workshops for the BCI North East Region and spoken at the BCI World Conference for the last three years.

On winning the award, Russ said: “I feel privileged to have won this award but it would not have been possible without the support of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue. With an open approach to change, we have allowed the key principles of Business Continuity to be embedded into the organisation’s day to day operations.”

Head of Service Delivery Support Stewart Nicholson said; “I am so proud of Russ and the work he has completed over the years along with the achievements he has gained for himself and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.  This award is well deserved and is great recognition for his commitment over the past seven years at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

Fire funding for South Yorkshire sprinkler schemes

Five housing schemes across South Yorkshire will be fitted with sprinklers, thanks to Fire Authority funding.

The schemes have all benefitted from money made available earlier this year from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve Fund.

Charities and social housing organisations were invited to bid for the money which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves to support sprinkler projects on a match funded basis.

Fire safety officers hope the schemes will encourage more housing providers to consider installing sprinklers in the homes of homes of residents considered particularly at risk of fire.

The five funded schemes are:

  • Autism Plus, Thorne- a 15 bedroom residential care facility
  • Berneslai Homes, Barnsley- six independent living schemes
  • Great Places, Rotherham- a 24 flat complex
  • South Yorkshire Housing Association, Rotherham- five bungalows for high-dependency residents
  • Target Housing, Rotherham- four bedroom converted care facility

Area Manager 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.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “The Authority believes that its resources can play an important role in building safer, stronger communities and this funding is one example of how we are achieving this. Member hope this investment will encourage other housing providers to consider installing these potentially life saving devices in the homes of higher-risk residents.”

SYFR has pioneered the 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.

Click here for more information on sprinkler systems

Attack on firefighters in Sheffield condemned

Fire officers have reacted angrily to reports that their crews were attacked at an incident in Sheffield on Sunday (5 November).

Firefighters from Central fire station were responding to reports of fires which had been deliberately set near Grimesthorpe Road South, Grimesthorpe at around 9.30pm.

Whilst tackling the blazes, objects were thrown at the fire engine and crew. No firefighters were injured, but the window of one of the fire engines was damaged, making the vehicle unavailable to attend further emergencies.

Firefighters withdrew until police arrived, before continuing to extinguish the fires.

Area Manager Tony Carlin at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue said; “We are absolutely appalled that our firefighters appear to have been targeted in this way.

“Attacks like this place the safety of our firefighters, and the people they are trying to protect, at risk. Thankfully, this type of incident is extremely rare in South Yorkshire and it is only a tiny minority of people who would ever consider acting in such an irresponsible and dangerous way.

“However, even one attack on a firefighter is completely unacceptable – and we will work alongside the police to fully investigate any attacks and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

If you have any information about this attack please call 101, quoting police incident number 1221 (5 November).

‘Go to a display’ safety plea as bonfire night approaches

The fire service is repeating its annual safety call as thousands of people in South Yorkshire prepare to mark bonfire night.

Though the fireworks period is traditionally one of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s busiest, call outs to small, deliberate fires on November 5 have fallen steadily in recent years.

Fire service managers hope that by continuing to work with partners to educate youngsters and reduce call outs the public will remain safe.

In the run up to bonfire night, fire service staff have been issuing safety advice and leaflets to residents about firework safety, as well as reminding retailers not to sell fireworks to under 18s.

Officers have also been assisting with the removal of waste which could be used to light illegal bonfires and have been working closely with local trading standards to cut out illegal fireworks sales.

Young people are being encouraged to attend a number of free activities which are being put on by partner agencies across the county.

Trevor Bernard, head of community safety, said: “The best way to enjoy bonfire night is to attend an organised display. The bonfires are bigger, the fireworks are better and they are a lot safer.

“If you are intent on holding your own display, the advice is simple. Only buy British Standard marked fireworks, follow the instructions on the box and site any bonfires well away from buildings.”

The fire service’s top three tips for staying safe this bonfire night are:

  1. Attend organised displays – they’re much safer than holding your own
  2. Only buy fireworks from reputable retailers and never from people on the street
  3. Light bonfires well away from sheds, fences, bushes and trees

 

Lakeside throwlines dedicated to lost loved ones unveiled at Doncaster beauty spot

Throwline stations have been unveiled at a Doncaster beauty spot, offering a potential lifeline to the hundreds of people who visit the lake there every week.

The 12 throwline stations at Lakeside, Doncaster have replaced traditional life rings, ensuring a more secure base for the life saving equipment.

Each throwline has been dedicated to a young person who has lost their life in an incident involving open water, with the unveiling attended by their families alongside members of the fire service.

To install the throwlines, which have all been funded by Doncaster Council, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has worked with ‘Doing it for Dylan’- a campaign set up by Beckie Ramsay whose son Dylan died while swimming in a quarry in Lancashire. Ever since, Beckie has worked tirelessly to promote water safety.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. These stations provide quick access rescue capability for anyone who might find themselves in difficulties in the water.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden said “Our work to make South Yorkshire safer extends to much more than fire safety alone. This is a fantastic initiative and will go a long way towards protecting those who visit Lakeside. It is vitally important that we raise awareness of the dangers of water and to save others from going through the pain and upset experienced by the families who attended this unveiling.”

You can download a Water Safety Booklet here.

To find out more about Doing It For Dylan go to www.facebook.com/doingitfordylan, or follow @missmybabyboy on Twitter.