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/.

Police and fire community safety teams join forces in major collaboration milestone

South Yorkshire safety teams have joined forces, in an ambitious fire and police collaboration project.

The joint community safety department brings together staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police to work together with the shared aim of keeping people safe.

The leadership within each service believe the joint department will make both organisations’ work to prevent emergencies and reduce demand more efficient and effective.

High profile activities the teams currently undertake include home safety checks, crime prevention visits and youth engagement activities such as the award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme, which has helped to transform the lives of more than 200 young people in two years.

The teams also operate the Lifewise Centre which is an interactive safety centre in Hellaby, Rotherham. It opened in 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year, including nearly every Year 6 pupil in South Yorkshire.

Area Manager Steve Helps, who was jointly appointed by both organisations to lead the team, said: “Police and fire have worked closely to make people safer for many years. But we truly believe that by bringing together the skills, experience and specialisms of both teams, we can do even more to reduce demand and better protect the communities we serve. Vulnerability in our communities is going up at a time when our resources are not, so we need to become even more targeted in what we do and the people we engage with. This project is about meeting that aspiration and providing early intervention to better meet our future demands.”

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: “I’m pleased that South Yorkshire’s police and fire and rescue service are collaborating to form a joint community safety department and look forward to hearing more about the benefits this brings to local communities. The Government introduced a number of measures to facilitate greater collaboration between our emergency services, which presents a real opportunity to provide a more efficient and effective service to the public.”

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 placed a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Stephen Watson, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive Jamie Courtney, Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and Chair of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Chris Lamb signed a collaboration agreement earlier this year to outline the terms and vision of the work between the organisations.

Other big collaboration developments have included the development of a joint police and fire station in Maltby and the appointment of a Head of Joint Vehicle Fleet Management and Head of Joint Estates and Facilities Management.

Service makes plea to local businesses as part of national safety initiative

Firefighters from across South Yorkshire have attended more than 1,500 fires in non-domestic properties in the last five years, figures show.

The revelation comes as South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) joins forces with fire services across the country next week (Monday 10 September) as part of a national business safety campaign.

As part of the initiative, which runs for the full week, fire officers are urging business owners and managers to ensure their risk assessments are up to date and, if they aren’t, to get in touch and take advantage of the support available.

“When we talk about business fire safety, and fire risk assessments, it’s not just a form filling exercise – it is a process which helps safeguard businesses from the devastation that fire can cause,” said SYFR Business Support & Policies Officer, John Parry.

“The sheer fact that we’ve attended such a large amount of fires, in non-domestic properties, in the last five years shows that this is a real issue. A fire, be it accidental or deliberate, can in some circumstances stop a business from trading altogether.

“Our message to local businesses, especially SMEs who might be particularly vulnerable, is therefore really simple – if you’ve not got an updated fire risk assessment in place or you have any concerns at all about fire safety then get in touch. We are here to help!”

In addition to urging businesses to ensure their fire risk assessments are up to date, SYFR is also offering a range of business-specific safety advice during the week.

This includes good housekeeping, keeping escape routes clear, providing appropriate firefighting equipment and taking steps to protect against arson and deliberate fire-setting.

Another way that business owners can safeguard themselves from fire is through sprinklers – which are able to detect and potentially extinguish fires before they get out of control and cause lasting damage.

More information on sprinklers, and contact details for the SYFR Sprinkler Lead, can be found here: http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.

To get in touch with the SYFR Business Safety Team – who will be able to offer information and advice on commercial and industrial premises – please visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/get-in-touch-2/.

National Business Safety Week is championed by the National Fire Chiefs Council and runs from Monday 10 until Friday 16 September. The initiative is supported by fire and rescue services across the country and aims to make businesses aware of the help and support available to them.

Sprinkler system installed to safeguard Rotherham care facility residents

Residents of a high dependency care facility in a Rotherham suburb are now safer from fire than ever before thanks to a fire funded sprinkler initiative.

The 15 bedded facility – which is based within three large bungalows in Thurcroft – houses people with both learning disabilities and mobility problems.

It is run by the South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) who, earlier this year, won match funding from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s (SYFRA) sprinkler fund to pay for a state-of-the-art sprinkler system.

Installed earlier this year the devices cover every room in each of the three buildings and, combined with the existing fire alarm system, provide residents with a high level of fire protection.

“The people living within this facility are some of the most vulnerable in South Yorkshire which is why we’re really pleased that they now have such an effective fire protection system in place,” said South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Sprinkler Advocate, Roger Brason.

“We know that sprinklers are a cost-effective way of making homes safer as they stop fires from spreading and in most cases actually put them out fully. We’re passionate about helping people better understand this and the benefits of these potentially life-saving systems.”

Following the installation of the system a cheque was presented, by Councillor Alan Atkin on behalf of the Fire Authority, to SYHA earlier this week (Wednesday 22 August).

The sprinkler fund was made available last year. It is open to any social or private housing provider and will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.

This facility is one of five places that were awarded match funding from the Fire Authority when it made the sprinkler fund available last year.

It is hoped that the work done so far to install these systems will encourage more housing providers to consider installing sprinklers in their buildings – especially in the homes of residents considered at higher risk of fire.

The sprinkler fund forms part of the SYFRA’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve Fund, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

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

The picture above shows Councillor Alan Atkin presenting a cheque, on behalf of the Fire Authority, to South Yorkshire Housing Association.