South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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South Yorkshire’s fire service first to test connectivity from control room to new national network

South Yorkshire’s fire service has become the first in the country to test the connectivity from its control room to a new national network which will transform the way emergency services operate.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is a lead organisation for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) critical communications system and worked with the Home Office on approval for its Systel mobilising system- the software it uses to send fire engines to emergencies- to connect to the new network.

This achievement represents big progress for the cross-government programme, which will replace the current Airwave service which firefighters and other 999 workers use to communicate with each other at emergencies.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM, said: “We’re proud to be playing a leading role in supporting the roll out of the biggest transformation in emergency services communication in a generation. Our position as a lead organisation for the technology within the fire and rescue service confirms the skill and expertise of our ICT and Control room staff, as well as the resilience and security of our systems.”

ESN will transmit fast, safe and secure voice, video and data across the 4G network and give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.

Around 300,000 frontline emergency service users will depend on ESN, using handheld devices or operating equipment in 45,000 vehicles, 66 aircraft and more than 100 control rooms.

David Topping, Control Rooms Technical Lead for the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, said: “We are pleased to have worked effectively with our colleagues in South Yorkshire’s  fire service to reach this point. We all look forward to demonstrating the capability of ESN integrated with the Systel mobilising system over the coming months.”

Investment in ESN will also mean improvements to 4G network coverage, which will enable 999 calls to be made from mobile phones in some of the most remote and rural parts of Great Britain.

ESN’s high-speed mobile technology will mean communication between the emergency services will take priority over all other network traffic, even at peak times in busy urban locations. It will mean the emergency services and other first responders can share vital data, information and expertise quickly and securely from the frontline when it is needed most.

It will give the emergency services access to the latest mobile communications products and applications as soon as they come on stream. They will be able to choose what meets their unique operational requirements from the tools and technologies available.

The software that ESN runs on is being provided by Motorola Solutions and the infrastructure is being built by EE, including deploying more 4G masts in rural areas.

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National award for fire service’s response to Hatfield Moors blaze

South Yorkshire’s fire service has won a national award for its response to a major wildfire, which crews spent 22 days tackling last year.

The fire affected a huge area of rare peat moorland, which is a site of special scientific interest and home to several rare species of animal and plants.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue won the Incident Management Award at CIR Magazine’s Business Continuity Awards 2021 for its work to coordinate the response to the incident, which involved 403 fire appliance movements across 523 hours in May and June 2020.

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson, said: “Responding to large scale incidents such as this isn’t simply about the work of our fantastic firefighters on the ground. It’s also about the coordination of activity behind the scenes, the implementation of plans for managing an incidents of this size and collaboration with our partners, including the local authority and Natural England. This award is fitting recognition for all of the efforts which went into managing the incident.

“Even during the early stages of the pandemic, our frontline crews remained ready, willing and able to respond to every 999 call they received- including major fires such as this one. Our response to this blaze right at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic is therefore also testament to the control measures we had in place and the diligence of our staff in following them.”

At the same awards, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Emergency Planning Officer Russ Parramore won the Adviser of the Year Award for his work with the National Fire Chief’s Council’s business continuity committee.

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Service launches September recruitment drive

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is once again calling for people in Askern, Rossington, Stocksbridge, Dearne, Birley and Cudworth to join their on-call firefighting teams.

Despite two hugely successful recruitment campaigns in the last year, there are still some spaces at each of the above stations that the service would like to fill.

On-call firefighters play a vital role in crewing fire stations right across the county. Trained to the same high standards as full-time firefighters, they attend all types of incidents and contribute towards the service’s prevention work within the community.

Anyone interested is urged to register their interest on the service’s website, here. The service will then contact each individual directly with regards to the next steps.

On-call firefighters are paid for their training, for being on-call and for each incident they attend – but they must live or work within a five minute drive of their closest fire station.

“On-call firefighters are ordinary people who do an extraordinary job. The commitment they make to their communities is something that words can’t describe,” said SYFR Station Manager Chris Tyler, who oversees the service’s on-call fire stations.

“This latest recruitment drive provides another opportunity for people in these six areas to fulfil the childhood dream of so many people and our message is clear – if you want to do it, get in touch, and we’ll do what we can to make the dream a reality.

“There’s loads of information on what it takes to be an on-call firefighter, what the job related tests involve and what the job involves, on our website – I’d definitely recommend having a read of the content there if you’re interested.”

For more information on the role of an on-call firefighter, visit the service’s website here.

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