Sheffield mum makes smoke alarm plea as part of new fire service campaign

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging the county’s residents to sign up to their free smoke alarm reminder service – www.pressthebutton.co.uk – as part of a new campaign.

They are backed by Rachael Shaw, a mum from Sheffield who had her home in Parsons Cross destroyed by fire earlier this year.

Rachael, her partner and daughter were in bed one night in April when working smoke alarms alerted them to an electrical fire in the living room below.

The fire had developed quickly and thick smoke prevented them from escaping – meaning they had to be rescued from a bedroom window by firefighting crews.

And now, with their house still in ruins, they are living proof that, as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) regularly reminds people, smoke alarms save lives.

“Luckily we heard the smoke alarm and smelt the smoke. If it wasn’t for the smoke alarm, realistically we wouldn’t have known. It never crossed my mind that the house was on fire.

“Smoke alarms… I never thought they were that important and now they’ve literally saved our lives.”

Speaking of the service’s new campaign, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, officers say they’re hoping they can motivate people to stop procrastinating and ensure they have alarms in place.

Latest figures released by SYFR show that out of the 486 accidental dwelling fires crews dealt with last year, 102 of the homes attended didn’t have any smoke alarms.

A deeper look at incident data then shows that in the 384 cases where smoke alarms were present, not all of them sounded – either due to them not working or not being positioned correctly.

This makes 238 instances in 2019 where smoke alarms either weren’t present or didn’t sound – this is 49 percent of the 486 houses fires attended by firefighters.

“We’ve spent over a decade now asking people to ensure they have working smoke alarms, and test them regularly,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the police and fire community safety team.

“Lots of people have and we’re truly grateful to them but, as these figures show, at almost half of the fires we attended last year there were either no smoke alarms, or the ones present didn’t work as they should.

“Our ask is really clear – we want people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home. Then, we want them to make a habit of testing them weekly.

“We offer a free weekly reminder service that people can sign up to and for anybody that needs extra support, we offer home safety checks that can be booked through our website.

“The incident involving Rachael and her family is a really clear example of how important smoke alarms can be – get them, fit them, test them.”

You can sign up to the service’s free reminder service at www.pressthebutton.co.uk and can book a free home safety visit at www.syfire.gov.uk.

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Works starts on new Barnsley fire station

Work has started this week on a brand new, energy efficient station for firefighters in Barnsley.

The existing 60-year-old, three-storey building on Broadway, Kingstone is being demolished after it had reached the end of its operational life. It’s being replaced with a new two storey, three bay facility on the same site.

A separate multi-use facility is planned to be built on the same site, which will host the service’s award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme initiative as well as providing space to hold events and meetings and bookings from community groups.

Energy saving measures will include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

Firefighters will be housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst construction of the new building takes place.

The investment follows a study last year which looked at all options including a multi-million pound refurbishment which wasn’t deemed viable.

It also forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around a further £8 million set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate over the next two years.

The investments are being made now, because of uncertainty of how much money will be available to make substantial investments like this in the future if the service’s finances continue to be squeezed.

Director of Support Services Stuart Booth, said: “One of our aspirations is to make the service a great place to work. Part of achieving that means investing in the buildings and facilities our staff use every day and we’re pleased to be making real and tangible progress towards this. We considered refurbishing the existing site, but this didn’t provide best value for money and it didn’t provide the best long term facility for our staff.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said: “Barnsley Fire Station is the last of the traditional and imposing divisional stations. It has been part of the landscape for over half a century and will hold many fond memories for all those who have served there and the people of Barnsley alike. It is now however time to move forward and this exciting new development will offer a 21st century fire station and facilities that will enhance both the working environment for crews and further develop the already strong community links that exist in Barnsley.”

Bond Bryan acted as architects for the project, Turner and Townsend are providing project and cost management support and JF Finnegan have been appointed as contractors.

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