Humanitarian award for South Yorkshire firefighter

A firefighter from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has received a top award in recognition of her humanitarian contribution.

Clare Holmes, a watch manager on Rotherham blue watch, received the Women in the Fire Service (WFS) Bronze Award for the work she carried out improving fire safety in migrant camps in South Sudan. The focus of the trip was to develop and deliver training to prevent fire spread throughout the camps.

It was announced that Clare had won the award at the annual Women in the Fire Service weekend held in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire (21-23 June).

WM Holmes spent two weeks at the camps and was part of a team of six volunteers who were approached by the ‘Women in the Fire Service’ network to visit the camp, after a request they’d received from an aid charity.

During the two week trip, the team provided ‘train the trainer’ courses for United Nations (UN) camp staff which included community fire safety advice and burn and scald prevention information. Clare and the team also carried out a fire safety assessment of the camp, which is occupied by roughly 120,000 people.

Many camps in South Sudan can hold thousands of people living in makeshift accommodation in close proximity to one another, with schools, hospitals and markets all adding to the risk of fire.  As well as this, all cooking takes place on open fires and fire service response is limited.

Clare said: “The community were very receptive to our visit and found the training and advice very beneficial. The site staff that we trained will now be able to pass on fire safety guidance to thousands of people living in the camps and hopefully reduce the risk of a fire starting.”

The trip to South Sudan was supported by Fire Aid, a charity which provides donations of fire and rescue equipment and training to those in need of such assistance.

The charity also visited South Sudan in March 2018 and identified a number of substantial fire risks including a lack of awareness of fire safety. It was from this that Women in the Fire Service were asked to request if any of their members could volunteer for a second visit to the country.

Firefighters praise new lifesaving equipment for pets

Pets across the county are now safer than ever thanks to a new type of oxygen mask on our fire engines.

In partnership with the non-profit organisation, Smokey Paws, each of our fire appliances have now been equipped with a pet oxygen mask.

As a nation of animal lovers, we want the best for our pets, especially in the event of a fire. Smoke inhalation from a fire is just as much a risk with pets as their human owners. Until now firefighters have used the same oxygen mask for pets as people.

These new masks- largely made possible in South Yorkshire by donations from Aqua Vet Hydroherapy- are specially designed to fit over the snout of an animal and come in three different sizes to deliver a better flow of oxygen to the animal, increasing their chance of survival.

Smokey Paws was created by Lynn Carberry and her husband Brian Lockyer, in Weston-super-Mare and have provided critical, pet life-saving oxygen masks to the UK’s fire services.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has attended 133 house fires over the past five years which have involved pets.

At the beginning of June our fire crews attended a house fire in Sheffield where a dog was rescued, firefighters successfully used a Smokey Paws mask to revive the dog.

Station Manager Wayne Sutcliffe said; “We attend many house fires where pets are involved, in the past we have used normal oxygen masks to attempt to revive them.

“Thankfully with the supply of these specifically designed masks we will now be able to save even more beloved family pets.”

A spokesperson for Smokey Paws said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped our campaign, working towards our mission of making sure every UK fire engine is equipped with our masks, with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service now fully equipped thanks to kind donations.

“To hear that these masks have already made a difference in the area reinforces their importance and spurs us on to complete our mission!”

House fires drop in South Yorkshire amid small arsons rise

House fires and false alarms dropped in South Yorkshire last year, a report to the fire service’s governing Fire Authority will say.

There were 72 fewer property fires, 59 less accidental house fires and 92 less automated fire alarms in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue also carried out more than 12,000 home safety checks, whereby fire service staff visit a person’s home to offer safety advice and fit smoke alarms where needed.

But there was a slight increase in fire deaths and serious injuries. With many of those dying aged over 60, the service recently launched its ‘Find The Time’ campaign which calls on those with older relatives or neighbours to take some simple steps to keep their loved ones safe.

There was also a big spike in small deliberate fires, like grass and rubbish fires, following one of the hottest summers in years. It’s prompted the service to ramp up its community work ahead of the warmer weather, including the delivery of a new joint anti-social behaviour schools education package alongside South Yorkshire Police.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “We’re pleased that our work to make people safer has contributed to a big drop in house fires. Much of it is down to the targeted approach of our firefighters and community safety teams in prioritising their work at those most at risk of fire.

“But we know there’s more to do, which is why we continue to call on partners to help us to help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, by becoming one of our referral partners.”

The figures are included in the service’s annual corporate performance report, which will be presented to the Fire Authority at its meeting on 24 June

Station open days – summer 2019

A number of South Yorkshire fire stations will be holding an open day this summer. Please see list below for details.

Rotherham station – 27 July, 10am to 4pm, Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham S65 1ST

Thorne station – 2 August, 10am to 4pm, Union Road, Thorne, Doncaster DN8 5EL

Lowedges station – 10 August, 11am to 3pm, Lowedges Road, Sheffield S8 7JN

Barnsley station – 17 August, 10am onwards, Broadway, Barnsley S70 6RA

Central station – 24 August, 10am to 4pm, Eyre Street, Sheffield (for sat nav use S1 3HU)

Askern station – 25 August, 10am onwards, Moss Road, Askern, Doncaster DN6 0JX

Doncaster station – 27 August, 10am to 3pm, Leicester Avenue, Doncaster, DN2 6DR

Cudworth station – 7 September, 10am to 1pm, Tumbling Lane, Barnsley, S71 5SA

Fire service steps up as part of national water safety week

Local firefighters will be visiting lakes and reservoirs across the county next week, commencing Monday 17 June, as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue turns its attention to water safety and drowning prevention.

The work comes as the service gives its backing to a national Drowning Prevention Week – which is being spearheaded by The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK).

Collectively SYFR, and RLSS UK, want to try and reduce the 700 drownings that occur across the UK and Ireland each year.

During the course of the week crews will be visiting water sites that they have previously attended, and that have been identified by the public through an online campaign.

Whilst there they will be identifying any potential risks and outlining what preventative measures could be put in place at each location.

Station Manager Tom Hirst, who has been organising the service’s activity, is hoping that the work being done will help make South Yorkshire’s water sites safer for local people.

“Water rescues are one of the many incident types we attend and, sadly, we’ve had a number of calls in recent years where people have drown in open bodies of water,” he said.

“Even in hot weather, when people start to get attracted to lakes and reservoirs, water can be freezing cold and, as such, extremely dangerous.

“Our ambition is to try and stop drownings altogether but, of course, that will require a strong collective effort. That work starts this week.

“We’ve got a long list of sites, right across the county, that we’ll be visiting – and risk assessing. We can then identify places that might benefit from things such as security fencing, floatation equipment and warning signage.”

As well as being supported by local crews, the service’s community safety teams will be visiting local schools and youth groups to explain the dangers of playing in, or near, water.

“Our advice for the public, especially with summer coming, is to just be extra careful around open water. Unless you’re part of an authorised open water swimming group, keep out of it.

“Even if it looks nice and appealing, you have no idea how cold it is, what lies beneath the water or indeed what water borne bacteria and diseases might be in the water itself.”

According to officers, the dangers of unauthorised swimming in open water include it being much deeper and colder than people might think, the presence of diseases and bacteria in the water and the stuff – such as trollies, weeds and hidden currents – that might lie beneath.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has recently launched its new ‘Float To Live’ campaign, which encourages anyone who gets caught in open water to fight the urge to swim and focus on floating until help arrives.

Off duty firefighter given top bravery honour

Off duty firefighter receives top bravery honour A South Yorkshire firefighter has been honoured with the service’s highest bravery award.

Crew Manager Paul Holbrook was off duty when there there was a road traffic collision on the M18 North motorway involving three vehicles.

The collision in September last year saw a driver thrown from one of the cars and left his passenger trapped in the vehicle – which was overturned. Paul was travelling with his family that day on the same stretch of motorway, and was caught in the traffic jam caused by the collision.

Upon seeing the incident ahead Paul left his vehicle, with traffic stood still, and ran to the scene. Once there, he identified a substantial petrol leak and immediately took charge of the incident.

He assessed the casualty and removed her from a difficult position in the overturned car before moving her to a place of safety. He then stayed with her on the hard shoulder and continued to provide casualty care. When crews arrived he was able to provide a full handover and continued to help all three blue light services until the casualties were taken by the ambulance service.

Presenting Paul with a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation, CFO James Courtney said: “It is quite clear that in doing what he did Crew Manager Holbrook displayed bravery and complete selflessness. He went forward to help when he had the option not to – displaying the true values of the fire and rescue service.

“The on-duty Watch Manager, who took over the scene from Paul, has since praised his quick thinking and his actions – which stopped the incident from escalating and, most importantly, potentially saved this lady’s life.”

Paul was presented with a certificate in front of family, friends, colleagues and Fire Authority members at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Central fire station in Sheffield.