Service makes life-saving ‘register your appliance’ plea

It is now quicker and easier than ever to register large household appliances, such as washing machines and freezers, according to South Yorkshire firefighters.

The claim comes on ‘Register My Appliance Day’ – a national push that is being supported by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as part of its latest ‘Protect Your Pets’ electrical fire safety campaign.

The initiative, which was launched in November last year, has been urging people to keep their pets and property safe by not buying ‘cheap and dodgy’ electrical items, turning appliances off at night and when they’re out and, lastly, not overloading plug sockets.

And with the campaign soon coming to an end the service is now shifting its focus to appliance registration – with figures showing that less than a third of white goods are registered after being purchased and that two thirds of people have never registered an older appliance they may have bought a couple of years ago, or been given by family or friends.

Station Manager Matt Gillatt, who works within the service’s community safety team, said that the few minutes it takes to register an appliance is time well spent.

“Registering an appliance only takes a few minutes, but it means that manufacturers are able to contact you if they think that something may be wrong with your white goods,” he said.

“Many of the incidents we go to include things like washing machines, and tumble dryers, that have had a repairable, common fault, but due to the fact they haven’t been registered the owner knows nothing about it – until their kitchen has been destroyed by fire.

“The good news, though, is that the majority of brands let you register appliances that are up to 12-years-old so it isn’t too late to do it and help keep your family, and of course pets, safe.”

Only two months ago, on Sunday 17 November, crews from Doncaster and Edlington attended a house fire on Anchorage Lane, in Sprotbrough, which was caused by a faulty washing machine that had been left on overnight.

Following the fire, Watch Manager Gary Ridgeway, who was the incident commander on the night, has called for people to make sure washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and other electrical appliances are switched off overnight, as well as making sure they are properly registered.

He said: “This incident started after the occupant got in at night and turned the washing machine on before he went to bed. There was a fault in the washing machine, that they didn’t know about, which started the fire, filled the kitchen with smoke and caused a significant amount of damage to the property.

“At 2am in the morning, the two people who lived at the house would have had nowhere to go, had it not have been for their neighbours. Fortunately the smoke alarms sounded and they were able to get out, so the outcome wasn’t too bad.

“This is a serious issue for us, though. The cost of a few minutes’ worth of time is nothing compared to the lasting damage that comes with a fire – be it injury to you, your family or a pet, a kitchen that is completely destroyed or something far worse.”

White goods can be registered on the Register My Appliance web portal, which has been developed by AMDEA (The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances) and can be found at www.registermyappliance.org.uk.

The portal was designed to make it quicker and easier than ever before to register appliances, providing access to over 60 leading brands and the relevant manufacturers.

Firefighters tackle sign language training

A number of firefighters in South Yorkshire are now able to deliver vital safety advice to hard of hearing and deaf people thanks to students and tutors at Communication Specialist College Doncaster.

Crews in Doncaster have been learning basic British Sign Language (BSL) in order to improve their communication skills when attending incidents in their local communities.

Tutors tailored the sessions specifically to the needs of the fire service to include words and phrases that would be needed in the event of a fire.

To put their new skills to the test, crews also took part in a realistic fire exercise based in the residential facilities at the college. Students played a part in the scenario which saw firefighters having to communicate using BSL in order to direct students safely of out the building.

Station Manager Thomas Hirst said: “It can sometimes be harder for firefighters to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, particularly when in an emergency situation. Being able to communicate safety messages in a quick and concise manner when the time arises is vital, so learning some basic sign language skills in this way will be of huge benefit to crews.”

Fire Community Safety Officers have been visiting pupils at the college to deliver fire safety training sessions on what to do in the event of a fire and how to prevent one from occurring.

Stacey Betts, assistant principal at Communication Specialist College Doncaster, said: “We are really pleased to be working closely with the fire service and believe that this will be hugely beneficial to our students.

“We’ve helped to provide Deaf Awareness training to the team and they are helping our students become more aware of fire safety. This is a great example of how partnership working can benefit organisations.”

Fire safety information in British Sign Language can be accessed on South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s website here http://www.syfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/information-for-people-with-disabilities/

South Yorkshire joins national on-call firefighter recruitment drive

South Yorkshire has joined a major national firefighter recruitment drive, which launches today.

On-Call Firefighter Awareness Week (7-13 January) is a UK-wide initiative to get more people to protect their communities by signing up to become on-call firefighters.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue currently employs on-call firefighters at seven fire stations- Askern, Birley Moor, Cudworth, Dearne, Rossington, Stocksbridge and Penistone.

On-call firefighters are local people who live within five minutes of those fire stations and are paid to respond to emergencies. They do not staff the fire station 24 hours a day like full-time firefighters. They are notified of a 999 call via a personal pager which they carry with them when they are on duty. They are also paid to train and, when needed, carry out safety work in the community.

Head of Emergency Response Tony Carlin, said: “We’ve employed on-call firefighters for decades and they play a vital role in keeping local people safe. But we need more people who are passionate about the places they live to become on call firefighters.

“If being a firefighter is something that appeals to you, but you already have a career or other commitments, now is the chance for you to find out if you can still make it happen.  There’ s lots of flexibility to work around other commitments such as family, studying or work, so we really want people to get in touch to find out if it could be a career for them.”

The National Fire Chief’s Council and Home Office are behind the national campaign, using materials designed to appeal to a wide range of potential applicants.

To find out more about the role of an on-call firefighters visit www.oncallfire.uk or to register your interest with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue here