Launch of new Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers

Earlier this month four new Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers joined the Joint Community Safety Department to work collaboratively with partners and assist in delivering fire safety and crime prevention advice to our local communities.

The Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers (NFCSO), who will work jointly across South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, as part of the collaboration programme between the organisations, will spend time co-located in the neighbourhood hubs, addressing local issues and reducing demand.

The new roles, funded by the Fire Authority’s Stronger and Safer Community Reserves (SSCR), will see the officers working with our local authority partners over the next three years to enhance and embed the work of the Community Safety Department through early intervention and effective problem solving approaches.

The specifics of this work will include identifying opportunities to work directly with members of the community to highlight the dangers of fires, provide support to vulnerable members of the community and raising awareness of the different services provided by the Joint Community Safety Department.

The officers will also work closely with representatives from Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham Councils, partner agencies, local community groups, and colleagues in emergency response roles, to embed multi-agency working, improve the services provided to our communities and reduce anti-social behaviour across South Yorkshire.

Head of the Joint Community Safety Department, Steve Helps, comments on the introduction of the new roles, “Our NFCSOs will be instrumental in providing support to vulnerable members of our local communities and in offering our services to those individuals we consider to be most at need.

“These officers will help us to do even more to reduce demand and better protect the communities we serve, allowing us to become even more targeted in what we do and the people we engage with.”

Matt Gillatt, Community Safety Department station manager, has also commented on the positive impact the new roles will have, “By working directly in the neighbourhood hubs, the new officers with be able to work in partnership with police and fire colleagues to target intervention activities in areas with high levels of reported anti-social behaviour and raise awareness of the dangers of arson.

“It will also allow them to work more closely with local councillors to provide assistance to vulnerable members of our communities and create closer links between fire crews and neighbourhood police officers, in order to improve the services we provide.”

This work forms part of the wider successful collaborative programme between South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, which launched in early 2017 to build on existing activities undertaken in collaboration between both organisations. The work within the programme has already led to the creation of a Joint Police and Fire Station in Maltby, Rotherham, the development of a Joint Community Safety Department and the appointment of a Head of Joint Estates and Facilities Management.

Sheffield hoarding support cutting fire risk thanks to service funding

People who hoard are being helped to change their habits, thanks to the fire service funded work of a Sheffield mental health charity.

Sheffield Mind’s ‘Magpies’ project is part way through a two year mission to support people who hoard under a scheme paid for under money set aside from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s reserves.

Specially trained support workers meet with people for weekly one-to-one sessions where they discuss their lifestyles, the possible reasons behind their hoarding histories and ways they could change their behaviour.

A training exchange sees the charity offer mental health awareness training to fire service staff how to spot the signs of hoarding, whilst the fire service have trained Sheffield mind staff in basic fire prevention advice. A self-help support group is also attended by more than a dozen people with hoarding issues each month.

The project only has capacity to work with up to 10 people one-to-one at any given time, but is starting to have a big impact on those it is designed to help.

Its clients include ‘Mandy’ who has limited mobility and has hoarded items for several years after leaving an abusive relationship. Mandy’s home was severely cluttered, with whole rooms inaccessible and escape routes and corridors blocked- putting her at greater risk in the event that a fire did start in her home. But by working with Mandy over a period of several months, support workers have helped her to sort through her belongings and to make decisions to let them go, significantly reducing the fire risk hazard and making more space in her home.

Sheffield Mind Head of Operations, Rob Horsley, said: “Hoarding behaviours are a very complex issue which are about far more than someone simply collecting large quantities of things over a long period of time- often it is linked to other, significant life events or mental health difficulties and requires a considered, thoughtful approach to address. We’re pleased that the work we are doing is starting to have a tangible impact on people’s safety from fire.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps said: “We know there are some common factors involved in nearly all of our most serious fires, which is why our focus in recent years has been on targeting our prevention work at those who are at greatest risk. Our work with Sheffield Mind is a really good example of this as, although the number of people the project supports is quite small, the impact on their safety is huge.”

The project was awarded £88,000 under the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve. The fund is a Fire Authority scheme which reinvests money into local communities to support our work to prevent emergencies. The money has been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

Have your say on our equality and inclusion work

We’ve drafted a strategy to help guide our equality, diversity and inclusion work over the next four years.

We know that the strongest and most effective teams are built in a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected. This helps us to deliver inclusive services, ultimately keeping our communities safer.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is also at the heart of our service and how we engage our communities. They drive our purpose of providing effective services that meet local needs and help make our workforce truly representative of the communities we serve.

We really want members of the public to share their views on our Equality Diversity & Inclusion Strategy including our five priorities for this work which are:

  1. Improving diversity
  2. Inclusive culture
  3. Fair treatment
  4. Inclusive services
  5. Engaging communities

You can have your say on our draft strategy here

Fire HIIT Games and open day

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is proud to be holding the inaugural Fire HIIT Games along with the Dearne station open day.

4 May 2019 at Dearne fire station, Manvers Way, Rotherham S63 5DN

Fire HIIT Games

Events will range from hose dead lifts, ladder presses, casualty carries and tyre flips.  Each competitor will be timed with the fastest total being announced the winners.

All profits raised will go to The Fire Fighters Charity.

The event is open to everyone, not just fire service personnel.

For further information or to register for the event email nabbott@syfire.gov.uk (please note only registered competitors will be able to compete on the day).

Open day

While the above event is taking place Dearne fire station will be holding their annual open day running along side the Fire HIIT Games.

The open day will start from 10am and will include:

  • Children’s funfair rides
  • Road traffic collision and rope rescue demonstrations
  • Community Safety team giving out free fire safety advice
  • Safer Roads Partnership offer road safety advice
  • Aeriel Artist performing in the training building and giving out lessons
  • Vehicles from the Fire Service Museum
  • Refreshments

Please note that there is limited parking on site.

Hundreds made safer thanks to fire-funded sprinkler project

Some of the most vulnerable people in Barnsley are now safer than ever in their homes, thanks to sprinklers that have been part-funded by the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority.

In total 163 flats have been fitted with the life-saving devices across six independent living complexes – all of which are run by Berneslai Homes.

The housing provider was awarded £240,000 from the Fire Authority’s sprinkler fund to match fund the project – which now means 200 more people have the highest level of fire protection available.

A number of personal protection systems and kitchen suppression units – which detect and extinguish fires with a fine water mist – have also been match funded by the Authority.

The purchasing of these extra devices, which will be installed in certain homes where tenants are identified as extremely vulnerable, demonstrates the service’s commitment to safeguarding the most vulnerable in South Yorkshire.

“Sprinklers are a reliable and cost-effective way of stopping fires from growing and spreading,” said South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s sprinkler advocate, Roger Brason.

“In most cases, they actually put them out completely, so we’re really pleased that all of these homes have had them installed and even more pleased that we’ve been able to help provide some personal protection systems to help safeguard the most vulnerable.”

The sprinklers were fitted within the following independent living complexes:

  • Church Street Close, Thurnscoe
  • Hudson Haven, Wombwell
  • King Street Flats, Barnsley
  • Pendon House, Penistone
  • Saville Court, Hoyland
  • Shipcroft, Wombwell

Berneslai Homes’ Fire Safety Officer, Kerry Storrar, added: “Thank you to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority for their funding to fit these life saving devices.

“The sprinklers give our tenants the highest level of protection and over the coming year we’re hoping to fit sprinklers in other buildings.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve that is made up of money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

More information is available on www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.

New Deputy Fire Chief for South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority (SYFRA) has appointed a new Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

Alex Johnson was appointed following a selection process which included a written application, operational assessment and panel interview with members of the Fire Authority.

Alex had been fulfilling the role on a temporary basis since January, having joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2017. She’d previously served with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue for more than 25 years, having joined as a firefighter in 1992.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Chris Lamb, said: “Alex was an incredibly impressive candidate whose passion for the job and hunger to continually improve the service and its culture really shone through. We really look forward to working with her in her new role.”

Alex said: “I’m really excited to be in a position to continue leading the development of the service, backed by a brilliant team of exceptionally talented firefighters and support staff who are proud of the part they play in making South Yorkshire a safer and stronger place to live and work.”

Fire deaths prompt new fire safety campaign

A new fire safety campaign is being launched across the county today, Monday 1 April, following a series of recent fatal fires involving people over 60-years-old.

As part of the effort, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is asking people to find the time to go and see their older relatives who, according to statistics, may be at a higher risk of fire.

The service has published a ‘grandparent check’ which people can use to assess whether or not the older people in their lives – be it family, friends or neighbours – would benefit from a home safety check from local firefighters.

These visits, which are totally free, involve fire and rescue staff visiting properties to offer safety advice and fit smoke alarms. They also allow officers to identify risks and put things in place to make residents safer in their homes.

A list of things that people can do themselves, to help safeguard their older friends and relatives, has also been published.

“The motivation behind this campaign is really simple – in the last six weeks we’ve had a number of fire deaths that have involved people over 60-years-old,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“On their own these incidents are really tragic and when put alongside figures from our recent history we can see, quite clearly, that as people get older their fire risk increases.

“This is due to a range of factors – be it living alone, having limited mobility or a hearing impairment or taking medication that causes drowsiness – that can make older people more likely to have a fire and less able to escape.

“Fortunately there are things that we can all do to help. We’ve published some advice on simple things that people can do themselves to help make their loved ones safer. Then, if people still feel like they would benefit from a home safety check, the form on our website only takes a matter of minutes to complete.

“We can only help the people we know about and therefore rely on family and friends to get in touch with us. We know everyone is really busy but a quick visit makes a huge difference.”

Advice for people checking up on their loved ones includes:

  • Make sure they have working smoke alarms
  • Do they smoke? Ensure they’ve got a proper ash tray
  • Get them a working phone that stays with them all the time
  • Speak to them about what to do in the event of a fire
  • Help them de-clutter, particularly their exit routes

Find The Time follows on from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s ‘Fire Safe Together’ campaign that was launched by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017. This initiative urged partner agencies to work together in order to identify people who may be at risk and is being re-launched alongside this latest campaign.

Statistics show that over half the people who have died in accidental house fires, across South Yorkshire, since 2013 were over 60-years-old.

More information is available at www.syfire.gov.uk/findthetime.