Service thanks communities for keeping fire safe during lockdown

Property fires across South Yorkshire look to have dropped by almost a quarter during lockdown, according to the county’s fire service.

The reduction, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says, is pleasing – with firefighters expecting a slight increase due to large amounts of people spending more time at home.

Latest figures show that crews attended 157 primary fire incidents across Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley, between 23 March and 23 April. This, when compared to the same time periods in recent years, is a reduction of 23 percent.

Primary fires involve traditional house fires as well as other insurable property such as commercial properties, vehicles and larger outbuildings.

This comes after the service launched a lockdown-specific safety campaign, Keep Fire Safe, on Saturday 21 March – just days before the Government’s instruction on staying home.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tony Carlin, said: “The drop is down to the hard work of staff, as well as the public’s co-operation, during the on-going pandemic.

“At such a challenging time, when we expected to see a slight increase in incidents due to people spending so much more time at home, this is really welcome news.

“Our operational fire crews and dedicated fire safety teams have been working hard since lockdown began – making welfare calls to those who may be vulnerable, dropping smoke alarms off, engaging with businesses and more – and it’s clearly made a positive difference.

“This reduction in calls is also down to people across South Yorkshire who have taken on board our advice and taken steps to protect themselves, and their loved ones, from fire. They are our heroes right now and they have played their part so well.

“I’d like to thank them, and will also be thanking our staff, for their efforts. These are tough times for us all but we will get through it together, and I’d urge everyone to continue to follow Government advice during the lockdown.”

More information on the service’s latest campaign is available at www.syfire.gov.uk where you will find a safety quiz that gives entrants a chance to win one of two, £100 Amazon vouchers.

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Saying no to garden fires during the on-going pandemic

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are asking people to pledge not to have a garden fire during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

This latest plea comes as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue saw a huge spike in garden fires during the last week in March – a 161 percent increase compared to a normal week.

The service has also been contacted by a number of residents who have found it hard to physically leave their homes to exercise, due to the smoke coming from local garden fires where people have been burning garden and household waste.

Their message is also being backed by local authorities across the county, with an increase in air pollution being shown to negatively affect the health of those with respiratory illnesses.

“We fully appreciate that people will have excess waste, given they are spending much more time at home, but we would really discourage people from burning it off in the garden,” said Station Manager Steve Jones, who works in the joint police and fire community safety team.

“If a garden fire gets out of control, which so easily happens, we have to send a full crew to deal with it. The smoke can also cause real issues for people with respiratory illnesses – we’ve had reports from some people who haven’t been able to go out in their own gardens.

“At a time when we all need to come together we’re asking that, whilst they’re staying at home, people head to our website and pledge not to have a garden fire during the on-going pandemic – it only takes 30 seconds and will make a big difference.”

To sign the pledge, visit www.syfire.gov.uk/pledge.

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Take the pledge – no bonfires during the pandemic

In pledging not to have a garden fire during the on-going pandemic, you will be supporting your firefighters and people with respiratory illnesses. Every pledge makes a difference.

#KeepFireSafe - Garden Fire Pledge V2

    This helps us identify where we need to target our appeal, next.
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Personal protective equipment (PPE) on its way to South Yorkshire social care teams

A delivery of personal protective equipment which arrived in South Yorkshire yesterday, is now on its way to social care teams across the county.

Hundreds of thousands of pieces of kit including aprons, gloves and masks were delivered to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s training centre in Sheffield yesterday afternoon (Monday 6 April).

It was there that military planners and fire and rescue service staff broke down the supplies and delivered them to the local authorities in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield for distribution to front line workers.

The equipment had been sent to South Yorkshire from the government’s national distribution centre.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson said: “Workers are right on the frontline of caring for some of the most vulnerable and isolated people in our communities, so we were pleased to be able to play a small part in getting this equipment to the staff who need it.

“I’m proud of our staff for stepping up at short notice to make it happen and understanding the important role the fire and rescue service can play in supporting our partners and our communities.”

South Yorkshire’s response to the pandemic is being coordinated as a collective effort by multiple agencies, including emergency services, health bodies and local authorities.

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Firefighters support ambulance service

Yorkshire Ambulance Service welcomes additional COVID-19 support from fire and rescue colleagues.

Firefighter colleagues from the region’s four fire and rescue services will be joining Yorkshire Ambulance Service to provide additional support during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The 48 volunteers (12 from each fire and rescue service – North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside) will be carrying out tasks including driving ambulances and other support roles.

This move follows a recent agreement between the National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union to support local authorities and the NHS.

Our staff training with Yorkshire Ambulance staff

Commenting on this development, Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We have always enjoyed a close working relationship with our fire and rescue service colleagues through the many incidents we attend jointly on a daily basis and through our collaborative approach to large scale emergency situations.

“During this unprecedented period, and arguably the greatest challenge the NHS has ever faced, we are extremely grateful for the additional support being provided by the region’s fire and rescue services. It means that we will have greater flexibility and resilience in our approach over the coming weeks to ensure patients receive the care they need.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson commented: “As a service we are here to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger. We could not be more willing, and able, to help out in any way we can during these extremely challenging times.

“Our firefighters are trained to an extremely high standard. They have a huge amount of experience in driving blue light vehicles and are very well respected in their local communities. I’m hugely proud of them all and know they will do a fantastic job when called upon.”

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Fire service calls for sensible approach to garden fires

South Yorkshire’s firefighters are calling on people across the county to use ‘common sense’ when lighting garden fires during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue comes as they, and other fire services nationally, have seen an increase in garden fire call-outs over the last two weeks.

These incidents, they say, could potentially slow their response to a more serious incident and hamper their ability to help their communities in other ways during these difficult times.

“First and foremost, we don’t want to take away from the most important message right now – stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“What we do want to do, though, is keep our firefighters free not only for real, life-threatening emergencies, and for the extra work that they are starting to take on during this pandemic.

“We appreciate people are generating more rubbish by staying at home, and that disposal options are more limited right now, which is why some people are lighting garden fires.

“Ideally people wouldn’t do this at all, given that they can so easily get out of control, put people at risk and tie up our firefighters.

“But if people must have a fire in their garden, please do not leave them unattended, keep them away from sheds, trees and fences and have a bucket of water nearby.

“Please also consider your neighbours. Smoke can be a real nuisance and this is especially the case if you’re trying to enjoy some fresh air, or it’s blowing into your home.”

The service is also calling on people to be vigilant around deliberate fire-setting – with a particular plea going out to parents with teenage children.

“As well as an increase in garden fires we’ve seen a rise in deliberate fires, too. That is basically people setting fire to cars, rubbish, bins and other stuff.

“Whilst we sympathise with the people whose home’s we’ve attended to extinguish a garden fire, we really have no tolerance for those setting fire to things on purpose.

“At quite a lot of these deliberate incidents we’ve seen groups of young people running away upon our arrival so, if you’ve got kids that are still going out, please talk to them about the consequences of actions like this.”

Last week it was announced that a tri-party agreement had been struck for firefighters across the country to take on additional duties during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This will see crews across South Yorkshire potentially driving ambulances, delivering care packages to the most vulnerable and transporting bodies.

The extra efforts coincide with South Yorkshire’s new safety campaign, #KeepFireSafe, which has been launched in light of the pandemic.

More information on this campaign, how people can stay safe and get involved, can be found at www.syfire.gov.uk.

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Shout- stories of fire service life savers

In South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s first podcast series, firefighters and control room staff from across the service talk about lifesaving incidents they’ve dealt with. They also talk about their careers, the teams they are proud to be a part of and what it feels like to have helped to save a life.

Kirsty

In our debut episode, we meet Kirsty Wright- a full time firefighter at Birley Moor fire station in Sheffield and an on-call firefighter at Stocksbridge fire station in the city.

Kirsty- a Watch Manager- describes what it’s like to lead a crew of firefighters and the teamwork involved in responding to emergency incidents.

Plus, hear her describe the moment she helped to save a life, when she gave first aid to a woman who had been carried out of a burning building.

Adam

Say hello to Adam Dilkes- a crew manager at Rotherham fire station.

Adam has been a firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for 12 years.

We speak to him about what it feels like to attend an incidents where someone’s life was at
risk, how it feels to come away from something as dramatic as that and what it means to him
to be in a job where he can make a real difference.

He also talks us through an incident where he and his crew rescued a man and their dogs
from a serious house fire in Rotherham.

Joanna

For our next episode, we speak to Joanna Hoare. She’s wanted to be a firefighter since the age of six and finally realised her dream when she joined the service seventeen years ago.

She’s served at Mansfield Road, Central and Lowedges fire stations before transferring to Derbyshire Fire & Rescue earlier this year.

Joanna describes an incident where she helped to save the life of someone who was going in and out of consciousness having suffered severe smoke inhalation following a house fire.

Julia

This week we speak to Julia Tonks- a member of the service’s 999 control room.

Julia speaks about the crucial role control operators play in delivering life-saving fire survival guidance to people who ring 999.

She also describes a specific incident when she gave advice to a woman trapped in a burning building. She talks about what she said, how she says it and what it feels like to save a life by being at the other end of a phone.

Gary

This week we hear from firefighter and training instructor Gary Devonport.

He talks us through a dramatic rescue from water he helped with whilst he was off duty in Wales.

He describes the situation he stumbled upon and how the quick thinking of him and his team helped to save a life.

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