Service thanks public for support during bonfire period

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is thanking people across the county today (Monday 12 November) for their support during the bonfire period – with fireworks now being off general sale.

Crews from across the county dealt with the same amount of overall incidents on bonfire night this year than last – but saw a 16 per cent reduction in the number of ‘secondary fires’ they were called to during the course of the evening.

Preventing secondary fires, which include things such as deliberate rubbish and bin fires, as well as out of control bonfires, was a key focus of the service’s work during Operation Dark Nights.

The joint annual initiative, which was launched last month in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, saw officers from both organisations visiting schools across the county to talk about a range of things including peer pressure, the dangers of playing with fire and misusing fireworks.

It also saw parents urged to talk to their children about these dangers and the potential consequences of carelessness and deliberate fire-setting.

The activity ran from mid-October until the week after Bonfire Night itself, to account for any late bonfire parties, and whilst officers welcome the reduction in secondary incidents in comparison to the previous year, they are still urging people to take extra care over the coming months.

“A lot of work took place in the run up to bonfire night and I’d like to thank the public for their support, its pleasing to see that we’ve not seen an increase in incidents attended and have actually had a reduction in some areas, but it is important that we don’t become complacent,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“As we enter winter we’re continuing to urge parents and other responsible adults to have those 5 minute conversations with their kids to find out what they’re upto and outline the potential consequences of playing with fire.”

The service’s specific ‘Operation Dark Nights’ advice included:

  • Speak to your kids and find out what they’re up to – remind them of the damage that fire-setting can do to both people and property.
  • Bring your wheelie bins straight in after collection, and don’t leave them out overnight. These are often a target of arson.
  • Businesses – don’t leave your rubbish and waste lying around!
  • If you’re having a bonfire, make sure it is away from trees, bushes, sheds and fences.
  • Take care with fireworks and never go back to one once it is lit.

Fireworks (including sparklers) can only be bought from registered sellers, for private use, between 15 October and 10 November. They can also be bought between 26 to 31 December and 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year. Outside of these dates they can be purchased from licensed shops.

Service issues safety advice for Diwali celebrations

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is once again calling on people across the county to take extra care today (Wednesday 7 November) and over the coming days as they celebrate Diwali.

With many families coming together, to celebrate what is one of the biggest dates in the religious calendar, comes an added risk due to the increased use of candles, divas, tealights and fireworks. The cooking of special meals can also bring additional dangers.

The service’s top five tips for Diwali, all of which involve taking very simple precautions, are:

  1. Always place divas/diyas, tea lights and candles on heat-resistant surfaces and well away from curtains and decorations.
  2. Children and pets should be supervised at all times near flames.
  3. Don’t let yourself get distracted – never leave cooking unattended.
  4. If a pan with oil in it catches fire, don’t move it and don’t throw water over it. Get out of the kitchen, close the door behind you and call 999.
  5. Ensure that all fireworks meet British safety standards and never go back to one once it is lit.

“This is a really important time for so many people across South Yorkshire, and we’re really keen that everyone observes it and enjoys it safely,” said Area Manager Steve Helps.

“Our main advice focuses on candle safety, simply keeping them away from flammable materials, such as curtains and clothes, and of course children, can make a big difference.”

Police and fire join forces ahead of bonfire night as part of Operation Dark Nights

A joint effort to reduce deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour during the bonfire period is being kicked off today, Monday 22 October, by two of South Yorkshire’s emergency services.

South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) have once again joined forces for their annual ‘Operation Dark Nights’ initiative – with children and their parents the main focus of this year’s efforts.

As part of the operation, staff from both organisations will be visiting schools across South Yorkshire to educate youngsters around firework safety, stop drop and roll techniques and resisting peer pressure – as well as the legal and physical consequences of arson and anti-social behaviour.

Parents are also being asked to play their part, too, and ensure they know what their children are getting up to during the bonfire period.

“Our firefighters often report seeing youngsters fleeing the scene of fires around this time of year and, whilst we’re not suggesting all kids are at fault, we know that young people often think they are invincible and that setting fires is just a bit of fun,” said SYFR Group Manager Simon Dunker, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“The reality is though that playing with fire can have serious consequences that will stay with them forever. That’s why it is for us as parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, firefighters and police officers to educate them around the consequences of deliberate fire setting and other anti-social behaviour.

“Our ask if that you talk to your youngsters – find out what they’re up to on bonfire night and as the nights get earlier, and make sure they know that playing with fire is no joke. The consequences are far reaching and could stay with them forever.”

Advice will also be given throughout the operation around bonfire and firework safety – with out of control bonfires in particular prompting a number of calls to SYFR this time last year.

Those who are considering hosting firework displays will be urged to instead consider attending a more spectacular organised event, whilst anybody planning a garden bonfire is strongly advised to keep it away from bushes, trees, sheds and fences.

South Yorkshire Police’s lead for antisocial behaviour, Superintendent Colin McFarlane, said: “Bonfire Night and Halloween are events celebrated by all ages and whilst we want them to be enjoyed by all, it is important that members of the public act both safely and responsibly.

“Our priority remains keeping everyone safe and we will be working with our colleagues from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, to educate everyone around the dangers of firework misuse and how issues or concerns around Bonfire Night, Halloween and ‘mischief night’, can be reported.

“There are lots of safety precautions everyone can take to prevent Halloween and Bonfire night from being remembered for all of the wrong reasons. For example, please make sure that you do not leave rubbish or old furniture lying around – instead, store it securely behind a locked gate or away from your home.

“You can also ensure your wheelie bin is off the street after collection day and is secure within the boundary of your property. This will help to prevent these items from being used for small fires, which could spread quickly and put the lives of those you love most at risk.

“I hope everyone, whatever their plans are for the celebrations, are thoroughly and safely enjoyed and I would urge anyone with concerns about firework misuse to report it via 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

Don’t want trick or treaters this Halloween? You can download a poster, which can be printed and displayed in your window, below.

Dark Nights – No Trick or Treat Leaflet

Specific ‘Operation Dark Nights’ Advice:

  • Speak to your kids and find out what they’re upto – remind them of the damage that fire-setting can do.
  • Bring your wheelie bins straight in after collection, and don’t leave them out overnight. These are often the target of arson.
  • Businesses – don’t leave your rubbish and waste lying around as this too can be a target.
  • If you don’t want trick or treaters – display the above poster.
  • Where possible go to organised firework and bonfire displays, they’re bigger, better and safer.
  • If you are having a bonfire, make sure it is away from trees, bushes, sheds and fences.

Fire service to deliver ‘safe and well’ visits to older people in Barnsley

The fire service will be delivering falls, crime and healthy aging advice to older people in part of Barnsley as of today, Monday 10 October, with a trial programme of new ‘safe and well’ visits now underway in the borough.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has visited tens of thousands of homes across Barnsley for more than a decade to fit smoke alarms and advise residents on preventing fires.

But now it has teamed up with partners including Barnsley Council, Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group and South Yorkshire Police to deliver enhanced ‘safe and well’ visits to extend the range of advice that’s given to the most vulnerable people.

Community safety staff will deliver the new visits in the Cudworth fire station area during a six month trial, after achieving a qualification in health achievement from the Royal Society of Public Health. The fire station covers the north east of Barnsley, including Brierley, Shafton and Royston.

The new visits will be targeted at people aged 65 or over and will include general health and wellbeing advice, falls risk assessments and crime prevention tips. People will then be referred to other agencies for specialist interventions and advice if needed.

Head of prevention and protection, Steve Helps, said: “Our established programme of home safety visits has contributed to a big drop in fires across South Yorkshire over the last decade. But we believe we can use the contact we have with some of the most vulnerable people in society to achieve far more than simply reducing fires.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So strengthening our knowledge and referral mechanisms through collaborative working such as this must surely benefit our public safety objectives, as well as those of partner agencies.”

Julia Burrows, Director of Public Health at Barnsley Council, said: “This pilot will help to reduce and prevent injuries and deaths due to fire, falls, crime and extreme cold weather for our residents in the north east of Barnsley. The Safe and Well Checks are a great example of public agencies working together to deliver better outcomes for local people and a way of making every contact count to keep people healthy and safe,  and to ensure those most in need get the help they require.”

Nationally, fire and rescue services, NHS England, Public Health England, the Local Government Association and other partners, including Age UK, have been working together to explore how they can encourage and deliver local action to reduce demand on health and social care systems and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.

In South Yorkshire, the fire service already delivers safe and well visits across the whole of Doncaster, but is now hoping to extend the visits to other parts of the county.

If successful, the trial of safe and well visits in the Cudworth fire station area could be extended to the rest of Barnsley in the future.

Video shines a light on pride of fire service staff

We’ve created a poem and a video to remind the 1.3 million people we serve of everything we do and how proud we are to do it- from a firefighter on a fire station, to a receptionist at our headquarters, to a mechanic in our workshops.

It’s also an attempt to explain that we don’t just put out fires and our staff aren’t just firefighters play a vital role in lots of other ways, from enforcing building safety laws, giving your kids safety advice at school or visiting an older relative’s home to fit smoke alarms.

We’re really, really proud of all our staff and of the work they do for people in South Yorkshire.

Fire service scoops major national cyber threats certification

A major national cyber security award has been granted to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue- one of the only fire and rescue services in the country to have achieved the mark.

The award of the Cyber Essentials Plus certification, verified independently by an approved accreditation body, recognises the steps the service’s ICT team has taken to protect the organisation against cyber threats.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was already Cyber Essentials accredited, but achieved the Plus rating following a random sample of devices and systems.

Director of Support Services Stuart Booth, said: “Cyber threats are a real issue for national and local government institutions, which is why our ICT team have been working so hard behind the scenes to safeguard our systems and data. Achieving the Cyber Essentials Plus certification provides important reassurance to our partners and the public.

“Whilst we can feel safe in the knowledge that our systems and equipment are as safe as they can be, the nature of cyber threats mean that they are constantly changing and evolving, so all staff should remain vigilant when using IT systems, email and the internet.”

Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed, industry-supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats. It’s run in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Common steps organisations take to protect themselves from threats include making sure our devices and software are up to date, using an internet firewall and implementing measures to stop viruses and malware. It’s also important to control who has access to data and services and to choose the most secure settings for the devices and software our staff use.

 

Cyber Security was identified as a Tier 1 threat by the Government in the 2010 National Security Strategy, alongside terrorism, war and natural disasters.

ENDS

Service issues ‘look out for your loved ones’ plea on Older Peoples Day

People across South Yorkshire are being urged to find the time to check on a loved one this week – as part of Older Persons Day which takes place today, Monday 1 October.

The day coincides with a national Home Safety Week initiative, which runs until Sunday 7 October, and follows a recent fire that involved the death of a Rotherham man who was in his 70s.

An inquest into the man’s death heard that the cause of said fire, which occured in November last year, was a wheat bag that had been left in the microwave too long.

Firefighters were called to another similar fire recently and, whilst nobody was hurt in this instance, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is calling on people to find time this week to check in with their elderly friends, relatives and neighbours who may begin to struggle as the weather drops and winter draws closer.

“We know we have an ageing population and as people get older they can become more vulnerable through things such as limited mobility,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, who heads up the service’s community safety team.

“Sadly this, amongst other things such as colder weather, taking medication and living alone, can put older people are a higher risk of fire. We’ve visited people in the past, for example, who are unable to test their smoke alarm for the simple reason that they can’t reach it.

“Together with our partners we do a lot of work to support the elderly in South Yorkshire and we need people to refer those who they feel might need our support to us. This is why we’re asking people that if they have an elderly relative, or neighbour, that they feel might be at a heightened risk of fire – then get in touch.

“It takes five minutes to fill in the home safety visit referral on our website and, for something so quick, it could lead to a life-saving intervention. Also, checking in to test somebody’s smoke alarm takes no time at all so if you can, please do.”

During 2017/18 there were five fire deaths in South Yorkshire as a result of accidental dwelling fires – two in Sheffield, two in Rotherham and two in Barnsley. Each of these incidents involved a man with two out of five being in their 50s, and the remaining three being in their late 60s and 70s.

Meanwhile nationally, figures show that the rate of fire-related fatalities (deaths per million people) generally increases with age.

Our Home Safety Visit referral form can be filled in here – it is a short form and once filled in, if eligible, you will be contacted by one of our team.

Dream becomes reality for Darnall and Rotherham fire volunteer

One of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s (SYFR) numerous fire volunteers saw their hard work pay off recently as they completed their initial firefighter recruits course.

Rob Hall – who first started as a fire cadet at Darnall fire station before becoming a volunteer cadet instructor there when he turned 18 – was part of the 61st group of trainees that graduated recently.

He had volunteered at Darnall, and subsequently Rotherham, from starting there in 2013 to the start of his firefighter training course earlier this year. Before starting his training Rob also spent around 4 months as the cadet branch manager at Stocksbridge fire station.

He is now at the start of what he hopes will be a long and rewarding firefighting career with SYFR and said his volunteering experience helped give him a realistic insight into the role of a modern-day firefighter.

He added: “People often think the role of a firefighter is zooming around in fire engines, rescuing cats from trees and pulling people from burning buildings. My volunteering experience showed me that it was about much more than that and that knowledge was really useful during the application and training process.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping others and volunteering gave me the opportunity to do just that. The most rewarding part for me was being able to see how the scheme benefited the cadets.

“I’ve seen some cadets join as really shy young people, who struggled to make new friends, but then leave with confidence and new friends – both of which will hopefully benefit them for years to come.

“For anybody thinking about getting involved in volunteering I would say go for it – it’s a fantastic experience and makes a real difference.”

Volunteer fire cadet instructors work with teenagers aged between 13 and 17-years-old and help them develop their self-confidence and life skills through fire and rescue related activity.

To find out more about being a volunteer email volunteers@syfire.gov.uk or visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/find-a-job/volunteering/.

Fire funded sprinklers installed in historic Thorne autism residential home

Sprinklers installed in the converted home of a Doncaster brewery magnate now used to support people with autism, have been hailed as proof that the potentially lifesaving equipment can be fitted in almost any setting.

The devices have been fitted at charity Autism Plus’ residential living service, Thorne House, once the home of Thorne Brewery owners the Darley family, despite the challenges of fitting the devices in a historic building.

The sprinkler scheme behind the installation, which has been part funded by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority was carefully planned and communicated to the people living in the property, considering the needs of residents with autism and learning disabilities to ensure that anyone affected by the noise of building work, unfamiliar visitors and disruption to their daily routines was kept to a minimum.

All five apartments and other rooms and communal spaces in the home are protected and all pipework and sprinklers heads have been concealed to limit the affect on some of the internal architectural features of the late Victorian building.

Fire officers say the installation is proof of their commitment to championing the use of sprinklers in higher risk, residential settings.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue 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 issues 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. This scheme, despite its obvious challenges, is proof of the fact that these potentially life saving devices can be fitted in almost any setting.”

The fire service last year announced a fund to encourage more housing providers to install them in buildings lived in by those residents most at risk from fire.

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. Autism Plus won £159,000 in funding from the Fire Authority for this scheme.

Fire Authority Chair, Cllr Chris Lamb, said: “This fund exists to do exactly what it says on the tin – to help make South Yorkshire safer and stronger.

“It is clear that sprinklers can potentially save not only property, but lives too, and we hope this example will encourage other housing providers to consider getting such systems installed, especially in the homes of our more vulnerable residents.”

For more information, visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.