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 www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

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 – press@syfire.gov.uk.

Sheffield

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

Rotherham

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

Doncaster

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

Barnsley

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

Emergency services ask for public help over dark nights period

Fire service advice during the dark nights period:

  • Attend organised bonfire and firework displays – they are cheaper and more spectacular than doing your own
  • Keep your wheelie bins in and clean any loose rubbish off the streets
  • In the event you are having your own bonfire – call it in beforehand to our control room on 0114 275 6839

A campaign is being launched today (Friday 25 October) to keep people safe and reduce demand on our emergency services across South Yorkshire, during the Halloween and bonfire period.

South Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Yorkshire Ambulance Service run operation Dark Nights jointly each year.

The campaign has already seen police and fire officers visiting schools over the past few weeks to educate children on staying safe, and during and over the holiday and bonfire period, will see officers patrolling hot spot areas.

The services are asking people across the county to be 999 wise – especially on bonfire night – to help keep their resources free for genuine emergencies.

For the police, this means only calling 999 if you are experiencing an emergency or someone’s life is in danger and using alternative ways to report non-emergency crime.

Superintendent Sarah Poolman said: “Your neighbourhood teams will be out and about in the evenings throughout this period, working hard to make sure that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe time.

However, this is an extremely busy time for officers and our call takers in the control room and we are therefore asking our communities to help us ensure we are able to respond to the people who need us the most by thinking before you call 999 or 101.

“Our call takers have to prioritise the calls coming into our control room. So if you are wanting to report a non-emergency crime, please make use of online reporting on our website- https://www.southyorks.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/.”

Whereas fire officers are asking people to ring the service’s control room to tell them about planned bonfires – to avoid unnecessary calls during the bonfire period.

The fire service is also urging people to attend organised fireworks displays, which they say are safer and more spectacular, rather than having their own.

“Each year we get a small spike in incidents on, and around, bonfire night. We want to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger, so this is clearly something we’re keen to tackle,” said Station Manager Steve Jones, who works within the joint fire and police community safety department.

“We know, from last year’s incident analysis, how this spike happened, and have identified three things the public can do to help us reduce incidents and keep people safe.

“Firstly, make sure your bins are in and there’s no loose rubbish on your street that could be set alight. Secondly, if you are having a bonfire, make sure you stay with it and keep it in hand.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, by letting our control room staff know you’re having a bonfire you can potentially reduce the amount of times we get called out to garden bonfires.

“The people that call these in are well meaning callers, and we’d always encourage people to call 999 if they discover a fire or need our help, but if we know you’re having a bonfire we will know not to send firefighters to spoil your party.”

Campaign effort helps drive down summer fires

A campaign that asked people to help reduce small fires during the summer has helped cut incidents by a quarter, the fire service has revealed.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue launched its ‘Do Your Bit’ campaign on Monday 22 July – to tie in with the six week school holidays when there is normally a spike in incidents.

The service asked people to play their part in reducing secondary fires – which involve grass, rubbish, bins and other non-insurable property – during a traditionally busy summer period.

And according to fire service analysis, the 744 of these fires that crews attended during the Do Your Bit campaign period is a 26 percent reduction compared to the average across the last three years.

“We’re prepared to deal with all eventualities but endless summer fires can be really frustrating for us. We want to be available to help people who are in real, life-threatening situations,” said T/Group Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“Through this campaign we wanted to show the public that we were taking this issue seriously, but our core aim was to reduce these fires altogether. Clearly we’re really pleased with the result.

“This is another example of our commitment to making South Yorkshire safer and stronger and is credit to the commitment of our staff. A lot of work went into this incident reduction, with staff from various departments involved, and this work will continue.”

The campaign asked the public to help tackle arson, in particular, by taking specific action to shut down opportunities for people to start fires.

This included not leaving wheelie bins out overnight, keeping streets and gardens clear of loose rubbish and reporting details of arson to police via the 101 service.

“We knew before the campaign started what the root causes were, so we set out to tackle those. We wanted people to remove the opportunities for fires to start,” added Matt.

According to the service’s analysis, the three year average for secondary fires between 22 July and 22 September is 1007 – compared to the 744 calls dealt with this summer.

Deliberate secondary fires specifically dropped by 23 percent, going from a three year average of 802 to 620 this year.

Thousands of hours of joint training delivered to 100s of police and fire staff

Hundreds of police and fire staff have benefitted from more than 1,500 hours joint training, as collaboration between the two emergency services gathers pace.

South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue say more than 500 of their staff have taken part in shared courses from driver to first aid training- helping to save taxpayers thousands in the process.

The organisations now use each other’s premises to host training for their respective staff- including at the fire service’s development hub in Handsworth, Sheffield and the police training suite at Robert Dyson House in Rotherham.

Minibus, LGV driver, water rescue and health and safety training are amongst the specific courses delivered by fire service training instructors to police staff.

Police trainers have provided conflict management training and first aid courses to fire staff in return.

Managers from both organisations now routinely observe each other’s training exercises in a bid to improve understanding of responses to major incidents.

Fire officers have also benefitted from police led ‘joint decision making’ training, which improves the way managers make fast decisions at emergency incidents.

Managers say joint approaches to training like this save cash because it means organisations don’t have to needlessly buy in courses from specialist providers.

Group Manager for operational training at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, Matt Walker said: “Since signing a joint collaboration agreement last year, we have been working closely with South Yorkshire Police to develop new ways of working together. This has focused heavily on sharing of best practice and looking at how we can build on and develop existing and future activities to improve the way we operate.

“Not only does collaborating on training like this save both services and the public money, but it also ensures we are delivering the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire.”

Claire Hayle, Head of Learning and Development at South Yorkshire Police, added: “South Yorkshire Police recognise the collective benefits that can be achieved through closer working with emergency service partners, and this is just one of the ways we are working in collaboration with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

“We are delighted to be able to deliver joint training to operational and support departments within both organisations, in turn gaining a greater understanding of each other’s organisations, saving public money and improving our services for the people of South Yorkshire.”

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.