South Yorkshire firefighter who saved life of football fan given top honour

An off-duty South Yorkshire firefighter who helped to save the life of a football fan has been awarded a top fire service honour.

Caz Whiteman, a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) firefighter currently based on green watch at Rotherham fire station, was in the crowd for the match at Leicester’s Champions League clash against Sevilla at King Power Stadium last year when a fellow spectator collapsed with a suspected heart attack.

Caz, who was sat nearby, immediately rushed to support pitch side first aiders and deliver cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for more than 15 minutes until he was taken to hospital by ambulance. The man, Jim Blockley, has since made a full recovery.

Now Caz has been presented with a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation – the highest SYFR award – for displaying quick thinking and bravery to save a member of the public’s life whilst off duty. She was presented with her certificate at a formal ceremony in front of fire crews, family and friends.

Caz said at the time: “My seats were just three rows from the front of the pitch and just as the teams were starting to come out for the second half, I noticed that a spectator was in difficulty. I came down to the front of the pitch to see what I could do to help and it became clear he had suffered a heart attack and gone into cardiac arrest. Along with the pitch side medics, I cleared his airway and immediately performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.

“This is where the skills I’ve picked up from my day job really came into their own. Firefighters already have the skills and knowledge to provide effective first responder care in emergency situations, particularly at incidents were we may arrive on scene before paramedics. My actions were a natural, instinctive reaction to the situation in front of me. Anyone with the right skills and training would have done the same thing. I’m just so relieved that Jim has made it.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “It’s extremely fitting that Caz’s actions that night have been recognised with the highest honour the fire service can bestow. Her brilliant quick thinking and life saving actions really did go above and beyond the call of duty and highlight that, in some ways, a firefighter is never ‘off duty’.

“It was particularly touching for Jim and his family to attend the commendation event and to hear first hand how overwhelmed they were by what Caz had done for him.”

Fire Service apprentice secures full time role

A former apprentice turned fire service employee has hailed the strength of the organisation’s apprenticeship scheme after it helped build her skills and experience to land a full time role.

In April 2016, Ellie Bolton became an apprentice in the Business Fire Safety department at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR), assisting and supporting Fire Safety Inspecting Officers, Ellie soon became a valued member of the team.  It was here that she gained the skills and experience required to further her career in the Fire Service.

Two years later as the apprenticeship was coming to an end, a full time vacancy became available in the Data Management section and her drive and determination spurred her on to apply for the post of Data Administrator.  Ellie was successful and became a member of staff in March 2018.

Ellie said; “Without the apprenticeship I would not have developed the skills and confidence that secured me this role. The apprenticeship has changed my life and has benefited me in many ways and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Amy Jenkinson, Business Fire Safety Manager at SYFR said; “Ellie is a fantastic example of how apprenticeships can help individuals further their careers. Ellie has gone from strength to strength and the knowledge and skills she acquired during her time as an apprentice was a large factor in her gaining employment within the service.  We are all really proud of her and wish her all the best in her future career.”

Any future apprenticeship opportunities will be advertised on the jobs page of our website.

Firefighters test response to large emergency with realistic live exercise

South Yorkshire’s fire crews have taken part in a realistic training exercise to test their response in the event of a major incident.

The exercise took place at the Fly DSA Arena in Sheffield with 10 fire crews from Parkway, Elm Lane, Central, Rotherham, Birley Moor, Tankersley and Thorne fire stations last week.  It tested South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s operational response to a chemical incident.

The scenario involved a number of people being exposed to a chemical. The exercise included around 40 volunteers from the fire and police service’s Prince’s Trust Team Programme and students from the public services course at Barnsley College who all acted as casualties.

Station Manager Nicholas Abbott, said: “Our firefighters are ready to respond to a huge number of different incident types, from fires to road traffic collisions. We issue lots of guidance to our crews about the different sorts of scenarios they might come across in the line of duty, but really the best way of preparing our response is to test it out for real.

“We’re extremely grateful to Fly DSA Arena for making the exercise as realistic as possible and providing some vital technical input on the day.

This recent exercise formed part of an ongoing aim at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to continually improve emergency response procedures to incidents that aren’t just fires.

Fire service 999 response to be affected if station staffing system can’t continue

Fire officers say they will face difficult decisions about how to maintain their 999 response service, if they are unable to continue using a fire station staffing system in place since 2014.

Four of South Yorkshire’s 21 fire stations use a system called ‘Close Proximity Crewing’, which saves around £1.6 million from the service’s annual budget without any affect on 999 response times.

The voluntary system sees firefighters ‘on-call’ while living at the station for up to 4 days a week, in exchange for a 29% pay increase.

Crew members are provided with accommodation and recreational facilities, and are allowed family visitors during stand-down time.

The same system, or variants of it, are also used by around a quarter of other fire and rescue services, but reference to the system in South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Integrated Risk Management Plan, published in April 2017, has been challenged by the Fire Brigade’s Union.

The dispute centres on CPCs non-compliance with working time regulations, despite the Health & Safety Executive noting that other shift patterns which CPC has replaced also do not comply- including a system known as ‘2-2-4’ which is the most commonly used crewing system in place at fire stations in the UK.

A legal judgement on whether CPC can remain in SYFR’s plans has been postponed until the end of April.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “The most recent plans, which were approved by the Fire Authority in 2017, reaffirm the commitment we have repeatedly made since the beginning of austerity in 2010, to provide the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.

“For us, CPC remains part of fulfilling that vision and a move away from the system would require us to make other changes to our 999 service which will inevitably impact on our emergency response.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has lost a quarter of its Government funding since 2010. Its fire stations at Lowedges, Tankersley, Edlington and Aston Park currently use Close Proximity Crewing.

Fire safety advice after house fire death inquest

The fire service has issued a fire safety warning of the dangers of over-heating wheat bags, following an inquest into the death of a man in his 70’s at his home in Rotherham.

Firefighters from Doncaster and Maltby were called to the incident on Glaisdale Close at 12:01pm on Sunday 12 November. Upon arrival at this incident, it was apparent that there had been a slow burning fire which was already extinguished when fire crews arrived. Firefighters gained access to the property via the front door and discovered the body in the front room of the bungalow.

Fire investigators found a wheat bag that had been overheated to have been the cause of the fire.

The coroner, Louise Slater recorded a verdict of accidental death at yesterday’s inquest.

Station Manager Simon Rodgers, who investigated the cause of the fire, said: “No one deserves to die in these circumstances and ultimately any house fire death is preventable, regardless of any other factors which may have contributed to that person’s death.

“To ensure that microwavable heat bags are used safely, users should always ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as these bags can become too hot if heated for longer than recommended.

“We want to again call on our partners in the health, housing and social care sectors to do more to help us identify those who are most at risk of fire, so that we can put extra measures in place to help prevent fatal fires.”

Safety advice for preventing fires caused by wheat bags includes:

  • Only purchase a wheat bag that comes with clear manufacturer instructions
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and never heat the bag for longer than recommended
  • If you know an elderly person who uses a wheat bag, explain the manufacturer’s instructions to them
  • Leave wheat bags to cool in a safe area and don’t use one in a confined space such as under bedding

South Yorkshire firefighters support local smokers in quitting campaign

Adwick fire station is to play host to a series of Stop Smoking Services to help Doncaster residents quit the habit.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) is working in partnership with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust, to provide a meeting group once a week at Adwick station to help support residents who feel that the time has come to take that step to a healthier lifestyle.

The Stop Smoking sessions offer a wide range of support which is able to aid all sorts of smokers, even those who have been smoking for long periods of time and may think that they wouldn’t be able to give up. Smokers who seek help have a much greater chance of success than those who do not.

The sessions. take place every Tuesday evening from 5:30pm to 8pm. If you would like to attend the next Stop Smoking group at Adwick fire station, please call 0800 612 0011 (free on landline) or 0330 660 1166 (free on mobile).

Steve Helps, Head of Prevention and Protection at SYFR said; “Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable disease and premature deaths in the UK. It is also a major cause of accidental death, injury and property damage from house fires attributed to smoking in the UK every year. This initiative is a positive step towards keeping the people of South Yorkshire healthier and safer in their own homes.”

Mark Falcomer at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said; “Yorkshire Smokefree provides expert NHS advice and support for anyone who wants to stop smoking. So when you’re ready to quit, we’re ready to help. Our friendly experts will help you find the best way to quit and provide support throughout your journey, so you’re smoke-free in no time.

“We offer a range of resources to suit your needs and ensure you’re smoke-free as soon as possible.

“You are five times more likely to quit smoking with products and support which are available for free with Yorkshire Smokefree Doncaster. Products include patches, gum, lozenges inhalator, mouth spray and champix.”

SYFR is one of the signatories of the Yorkshire and Humber Emergency Services Prevention and Early Intervention Consensus Statement, which has been co-ordinated by Public Health England.

With demand for health and social care rising, the main focus of the agreement is for emergency services to use their joint intelligence, skills and resources to support communities with ill-health prevention and early intervention where problems are identified.

This includes greater sharing and development of referral pathways into key services such as falls prevention and support for mental health, alcohol and drug problems, advice to keep homes warm and social support to combat loneliness and isolation.

Fire stations to host blood donation sessions

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) has teamed up with NHS Blood and Transplant to provide venues for local communities to attend blood donation sessions.

The first session took place at Doncaster fire station last week which proved to be a popular venue for the lifesaving sessions.

The fire station’s appliance bay was temporarily adapted while the sessions took place, with health screening areas and a number of beds in place so that NHS Blood and Transplant staff could welcome donors and perform blood donation procedures. The fire engines were parked on a different part of the site during the session but the crew was still available to attend incidents as usual.

Station Manager Claire Duke, who has been working on this project, said: “We hope that the sessions at Doncaster station will be the first of many we can provide for the NHS Blood and Transplant who are always on the lookout for new venues across the county. We are already planning more sessions at other fire stations in South Yorkshire in the near future.”

Chief Nurse and Assistant Director of Blood Donation Jane Green emphasised the value of the project: “We are extremely grateful to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for allowing us to use their Fire Stations for blood donation sessions free of charge. This initiative goes a long way to reduce our venue hire cost which in turn means that we can continue providing blood products to hospitals at sustainable cost. Fire Stations are also at the heart of the communities and easily accessible for our donors which enhances their donation experience.”

A number of future sessions are planned at Doncaster fire station on:

17 April 2018
10 July 2018
03 August 2018

All will run from 11am – 7:30pm

If you are interested in attending one of these sessions please register and book your appointment by visiting www.blood.co.uk website or alternatively call 0300 123 2323.