Alex Johnson appointed South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer

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

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

Alex joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2017, before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer. She’d previously served with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue for more than 25 years, having joined as a firefighter in 1992.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said: “Alex is an outstanding candidate who has demonstrated to Fire Authority members her commitment to building a successful, inclusive and positive culture at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

“In addition to her obvious talent in managing and developing people, she also has a firm operational background – which has been admirably demonstrated recently through her command of the fire service’s response to the widespread flooding which has hit our region.”

Alex will take over the role in January, when the current Chief Fire Officer James Courtney QFSM retires. James joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2006 and has been Chief Fire Officer since 2011.

“Fire Authority members would like to thank James for the experience and leadership he has demonstrated in the role of Chief Fire Officer over the last eight years and wish him all the best for a long and happy retirement,” said Robert.

Alex said: “I inherit a successful organisation full of brilliant, talented people who are proud of the part they play in making South Yorkshire safer and stronger. Leading this organisation is the honour of a lifetime and I will do all I can to make the service a brilliant place to work, which delivers outstanding results for the communities we serve.”

Automatic fire alarms in commercial buildings- what businesses need to know

The fire service is changing the way it responds to automatic fire alarms in some types of commercial premises.

What do I need to know?

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue will no longer automatically mobilise fire engines to automatic fire alarms in some types of commercial premises from 6 January 2020.

Currently we automatically send fire engines to premises the moment a fire alarm goes off and the signal is passed, by a receiving centre, onto 999 control operators.

Instead, we will only mobilise fire engines if we receive a call to confirm there is definitely a fire.

Why is this change being implemented?

About 97% of the automatic fire alarms the service attended in business premises in the last three years turned out to be false alarms. Fire crews wasted more than 1,000 hours investigating the cause of those false alarms- time which could have been better spent training, working in the community or being available to attend other, genuine incidents.

The change also brings South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in line with the position of many other fire and rescue services nationally and that of the National Fire Chiefs Council.

Which premises will this apply to?

The change will affect:

  • Offices
  • Shops
  • Industrial buildings
  • Public buildings like libraries or museums
  • Places of worship

Which premises does this not apply to?

Premises unaffected by the change are:

  • Domestic properties with fire / smoke alarms
  • Other sleeping risk premises – including hospitals, sheltered housing, care or homes, houses of multiple occupation, flats, high-rise tower blocks, hotels, bedsits, boarding schools, colleges, universities or halls of residence
  • Schools
  • Heritage sites
  • Large industrial sites, covered by COMAH legislation
  • National critical infrastructure.
  • Shops with homes or sleeping accommodation above/below

As a business owner, what do I need to do?

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it’s the responsibility of businesses to ensure their alarm systems are checked regularly and maintained properly, to eliminate false alarms and make sure the alarm operates as it should do in the event of a genuine emergency. You will find more information here about automatic fire alarm systems and reducing unwanted fire signals.

In particular, business owners are advised to review their Emergency Plan to ensure that in the event of an alarm activation the following areas are considered:

  • During the normal working day a procedure should be in place for staff in the building to liaise with the Alarm Receiving Centre and confirm whether the Fire and Rescue Service need to be called in the event of a fire alarm activation
  • Outside of normal working hours contact details for nominated persons should be available to the Alarm Receiving Centre so that a responsible person can be called to attend the premises and determined the nature of the incident prior to the Fire and Rescue Service being called

The responsible person should contact their Alarm Receiving Centre as soon as possible to ensure they are aware of these new arrangements.

After the flood- safety advice for residents

  • Make sure the property is safe before you enter and start to clear up.
  • Arrange for services, such as gas and electricity, to be turned off. The electricity and gas supplies should remain off until you are sure it is safe to turn them back on.
  • Remember, items that have been in contact with floodwater may be contaminated and contain sewage, therefore make sure that anything that has been in contact with the water is safely cleaned.
  • Open your doors and windows to ventilate your home.
  • Be prepared, have a torch at hand when entering the property and do not use candles.
  • Do not go near any exposed wiring, as it may still be live. Do not attempt any electrical repairs or connection of temporary supplies yourself – always use a registered electrician.
  • Do not use any mains powered electrical appliances in the areas affected by the flood until advised that it is safe to do so.
  • If safe to use them, make sure heaters are kept well away from soft furnishings to prevent fires
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur if diesel or petrol generators are used indoors

For advice on electrical safety

South Yorkshire floods- important information for Doncaster residents

Doncaster Council have released further information for Doncaster residents. Please see their update below:

“There are six severe flood warnings remain in place for Fishlake, Barnby Dun, Kirk Sandall, Kirk Bramwith, Sounth Bramwith & Bentley Rise. This means there is a risk to life in these areas. The Environment Agency expect these warnings to stay in place for at least 24 hours.

For those of you who live in Fishlake – we have set up a dedicated rest centre in Stainforth today to offer advice, guidance and support, to find out more call our public information line on 01302 735688.

The Environment Agency advise that they do not expect flood waters to start to go down for at least the next 24 hours in Fishlake, we expect that it will be at least 48 hours until you can return to your homes, if not longer.

Residents who are unable to stay with family or friends can still access the rest centre which will be operational for as long as is needed.

Fishlake residents have been advised to evacuate, if you are still in Fishlake call 01302 735688 so we can organise evacuation immediately by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. We can only offer dedicated support to people who are not in an area where there is a threat to life.

Bentley Rise residents (inc. Yarbrough Terrace, Hunt Lane, Frank Road, Riviera Mount, Riviera Parade & Willow Bridge) our communities staff are on the ground providing information, advice & guidance. We continue to work to Environment Agency guidance that this is a severe risk area.

Residents from other evacuated areas are advised to call our dedicated public information line for further updates on when they may be able to return home 01302 735688.”

@MyDoncaster on Twitter for more.

South Yorkshire flooding- key facts

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue declared a major incident at around 10.30pm on Thursday 7 November as a result of widespread flooding across the county.

Our one, key safety message is do not enter flood water– either in your car or on foot.

Key facts:

  • Our 999 control operators have taken more than 2500 emergency calls, not just relating to flooding, since then
  • We’ve carried out around 290 rescues
  • We’re being supported by neighbouring fire and rescue services and national assets- including extra heavy pumping equipment  and extra boats
  • We’ve pumped more than 75 million litres away from flood hit areas

Attack on Sheffield fire engine condemned

Fire chiefs have condemned an attack on firefighters in Sheffield.

Firefighters from Central fire station were responding to reports of a fire on Wensley Street in Sheffield when their fire engine came under attack.

Objects including eggs and fireworks were thrown at the fire engine and crew. No firefighters were injured in the incident, which happened at around 8.30pm on 5 November.

Firefighters withdrew until police arrived, before proceeding to tackle the blaze- which turned out to be a wheelie bin fire in some woods, which had been started deliberately.

Area Manager Andy Strelczenie at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue said: “We are absolutely appalled that our firefighters appear to have been targeted in this way.

“Attacks like this place the safety of our firefighters, and the people they are trying to protect, at risk. Thankfully, this type of incident is extremely rare in South Yorkshire and it is only a tiny minority of people who would ever consider acting in such an irresponsible and dangerous way.

“However, even one attack on a firefighter is completely unacceptable – and we will work alongside the police to fully investigate any attacks and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

If you have any information about this attack please call 101, quoting police incident number 961 (5 November).

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act has made it an aggravating factor to attack police officers, paramedics, prison officers and firefighters, punishable by up to 12 months in prison.

Firework displays across South Yorkshire – dates, times and locations!

We want the people of South Yorkshire to be safe this bonfire period – which is why we advise you to attend organised bonfires and firework displays instead of doing your own.

Why? Because they’re cheaper, safer and far more spectacular. We’ve compiled a list of the big displays in South Yorkshire to help you decide.

Have we missed yours? Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or email –


Annual Bonfire & Fireworks Display – 20th Sheffield Scout Group

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 7pm until 10pm
  • The Common Land, S11 7TG

After Dark – Yorkshire’s biggest fireworks spectacular

  • Tuesday 5 November
  • 5.30pm until 10pm
  • Don Valley Grass Bowl, S9 2DF

British Oak – Firework spectacular

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 5pm until 10pm – children’s display at 6.30pm and fireworks at 7.45pm
  • The British Oak, S20 5AY

Illuminate The Gardens – a magical night for the whole family!

  • Friday 1 November – Sunday 3 November
  • Sheffield Botanical Gardens, S10 2LN


Park View – Annual firework display

  • Sunday 3 November
  • 5pm until midnight – display at 7pm
  • Park View Bar & Function Suite

Brinsworth – Parish Council fireworks display

  • Saturday 2 November
  • Entrance closes at 6.45pm – kick off at 7pm
  • The Pavillion, Field View, S60 5DG


Big Bang – Doncaster’s biggest firework display

  • Tuesday 5 November
  • 5pm start – main display at 8.45pm
  • Keepmoat Stadium, DN4 5JW

Doncaster Racecourse – Firework spectacular

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 4pm until 8.30pm
  • Doncaster Racecourse, DN2 6BB

Doncaster Lawn Tennis Club – Annual bonfire and firework display

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 6.30pm bonfire, 7.30 pm fireworks
  • Doncaster Lawn Tennis Club, DN4 7AY

Rossington Parish Fireworks

  • Tuesday 5 November
  • Starts at 7.30pm
  • Rossington Miners Welfare, DN11 0DU


Penistone – Bonfire and firework display

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 6.30pm start – fireworks at 7.30pm
  • Penistone Showground, S36 6DW

Crown & Anchor – Firework spectacular

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 5pm until 10pm – children’s display at 6.30pm and firework spectacular at 7.45pm
  • Crown & Anchor Inn, Barnsley, S75 1LL

Cannon Hall Farm – Farm, bonfire and firework spectacular

  • Sunday 3 November
  • 5pm bonfire, 6.30pm fireworks
  • Cannon Hall Farm, S75 4AT