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.