South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Press the button plea from South Yorkshire fire crews

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging people to put smoke alarm testing at the top of their Christmas preparation list, as the big day draws closer.

The plea comes following several examples in recent weeks, from right across the country, where working smoke alarms have saved lives, pets and homes from serious harm.

With everyone busy buying gifts, putting up decorations and making plans, officers are hoping people will be able to find 60 seconds to test their alarms.

They are also urging people to sign up for smoke alarm testing reminders, provided by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) for free, at pressthebutton.co.uk.

“We’ve long urged people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home, but we know everyone is busy, and sometimes these things get forgotten,” said Station Manager Steve Jones, who works in the SYFR prevention team.

“However, given most people will be making time for their Christmas preparation over the coming weeks, we’re hoping that they may be able to squeeze in the time to test their alarms, and sign up for our regular testing reminders.

“They really are life-saving devices and we’ve seen countless examples in recent months and years of how getting early warning of a fire can save your life.

“Beyond that, working smoke alarms can also save your home. Early warning of a fire doesn’t just mean you can get out early, it means the fire can be dealt with quicker.

“Even relatively small fires can cause smoke damage that renders your home uninhabitable and, ultimately, cause you a world of pain dealing with insurance issues.”

The service will be running this latest campaign – Press The Button – throughout December. Officers hope to see a steep increase in the amount of people signing up for the weekly or monthly testing reminders.

Last year it was revealed that in 49 percent of the house fires attended by South Yorkshire crews in 2019, there were no working smoke alarms present.

At the same time, local mum Rachael Shaw, from Parsons Cross in Sheffield, issued her own smoke alarm plea – after her house was destroyed by fire earlier in the year.

“If it wasn’t for the smoke alarm, realistically we would never have known the house was on fire. We never thought they were that important and yet they literally saved our lives,” she said at the time.

The service is also offering a range of other fire safety advice as Christmas Day draws closer and closer:

  • On electrics, ensure products are genuine and bought from reputable suppliers
  • On candles, make sure they are kept away from things like curtains and decorations
  • On cooking, never cook drunk and always ‘stand by your pan’

More information on fire safety over the Christmas period can be found on the service’s website, www.syfire.gov.uk.

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Fire service welcomes arson conviction after flats fire

Fire officers have welcomed the conviction of a man who started a fire outside flats in Rotherham.

Alex Teasdale, of Meadow Close, Dalton, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and given a 10 year restraining order at Sheffield Crown Court on 5 November after pleading guilty to committing arson recklessly as to whether life would be endangered at the property in Dalton, Rotherham in September 2019.

The fire – which involved household waste – quickly spread to the exterior of the flats, forcing the occupants to evacuate.

Fire cause investigators quickly identified arson as the most probably cause of the fire and CCTV footage was used to help bring about the conviction.

Area Manager Cath Toovey, said: “Arson is a terrible crime with the real potential to endanger life. People starting fires do get caught and they do get prosecuted, as this case clearly illustrates.”

DC Dawn Murray, from South Yorkshire Police, added: “This was an extremely distressing ordeal for the residents of these flats and could very easily have ended with tragic consequences. I’m pleased our partnership work with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has resulted in this sentence, which serves as a strong message to others that arson is not tolerated in our communities.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has launched a new service where people can anonymously report people starting fires in their area. To report arson, call Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558.

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GB Paralympic gold medallist opens new Barnsley fire station

A former South Yorkshire firefighter who went on to strike gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has formally opened a new fire station in Barnsley.

Gavin Walker, aged 38, from Rotherham was handed the honour of officially opening the station on Broadway, Kingstone which went operational in August following a multi-million pound demolition and construction project.

Gavin claimed gold as part of the GB Wheelchair Rugby team at this summer’s games, having taken up the sport following a spinal injury in 2010. He’d previously served as a firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for seven years.

Gavin, speaking at the event, said: “When the Chief Fire Officer telephoned me to ask me to perform the official opening, it felt like a massive honour and an opportunity I was only too happy to accept. I’ve always loved the fire and rescue service and I have very fond memories of my time working for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. Massive congratulations to everyone on completing this incredible new fire station, which I am sure will serve the people of Barnsley for many, many years to come.”

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM, said: “A great many people and organisations have been involved in this project. All have done an incredible job in creating a bright, modern,  energy efficient building which provides a safe and comfortable environment for frontline firefighters to live and work in. One of our aspirations as a service is to be a great place to work and investing in our buildings is one of the many ways we are working towards achieving that vision.”

The energy efficient building replaces the 60-year-old fire station on the same site which had reached the end of its operational life.

Firefighters had been housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst the year-long construction of the new station was completed.

An existing unused building adjacent to the fire station will now be re-purposed and upgraded to 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 at the new fire station include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

The investment forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around £8 million being set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate.

Gavin performed the official opening at a special event in front of staff, suppliers and dignitaries, including the Mayor of Barnsley Cllr Caroline Mickinson.

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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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Fire service shortlisted for major national diversity award

South Yorkshire’s fire service is up for a major national award celebrating its work with diverse communities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has been shortlisted in the ‘diverse company’ category at this year’s National Diversity Awards.

The service has been shortlisted for its work to train and empower staff, promote inclusive recruitment processes and involve diverse communities in its work.

The nomination pitches SYFR up against seven other organisations from across the public and private sectors.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “Not only is inclusion now more visibly a strategic priority at board level, it is also translating to real results on the ground.

“Reinvigorated staff networks, fairer promotion processes, universal training, better recruitment practices and braver communication are all tangible examples of how- in a sector which has traditionally struggled to modernise- we are pushing the boundaries, improving our diversity and becoming a great place to work where people can truly be themselves.”

The National Diversity Awards seek to celebrate the excellent achievements of grass- root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society.

Marcus Rashford, Rebecca Ferguson and Ashley Banjo are amongst those shortlisted in the ‘celebrity of the year’ category.

The winners will be announced at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on February 4, 2022.

You can find out more at https://nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/

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Arson numbers down as service hones in on fire-setting

South Yorkshire’s firefighters have responded to less deliberate fires so far this summer than in recent years, according to figures released by the county’s fire service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) says it has attended 997 deliberate fire incidents across May, June and July this year – a seven percent reduction compared to the 1,073 attended during the same period last year.

Against the average for May, June and July across the last three years – which stands at 1,404 incidents – the reduction is actually 29 percent.

However, with several weeks left of the school holidays, a period which often sees an increase in fire service call outs, officers are still calling on the public to be vigilant.

In particular, SYFR is urging people to report anything they know about deliberate fire-setting via their FireStoppers service – which was launched earlier this year.

Much like its sister, Crimestoppers, all reports that go into FireStoppers are totally anonymous. Residents simply need to call 0800 169 5558 or visit firestoppersreport.co.uk.

“This may come as a surprise to some, but deliberate fires are amongst the most common types of incident that our firefighters attend, yet they are often entirely needless,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“We put lots of effort in to trying to stamp out arson attacks and it is great to see that what we are doing – a combination of our new FireStoppers service and work from our community safety staff and operational crews – is having the desired effect in reducing incident numbers.

“However, there is always more work to do, and one deliberate fire is one too many. The summer is not over yet and this can be a really busy time for us, especially when the weather hots up.

“Deliberate fire-setting not only endangers life and wastes our time, it can also massively destroy local parks, facilities and landscapes, so I would really encourage people to keep using our FireStoppers service to help us help you.”

You can report information about deliberate fire-setting to FireStoppers, totally anonymously, by calling 0800 169 5558 or visiting firestoppersreport.co.uk.

As well as cracking down on arson, fire officers are also asking people to be extremely careful when visiting the moors, when using disposable BBQs and when around open water.

“All of these things are a big focus for us. Our ask, in each three instances, is simple – please just be careful and treat your surroundings with respect,” added Matt.

“Don’t use disposable BBQs and leave litter on the moors or in tinder dry areas, and never jump in to open water – only ever swim outdoors if you know what you are doing.”

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New Barnsley fire station goes operational

Firefighters have begun responding to 999 calls from South Yorkshire’s newest fire station for the first time.

The new two storey, three bay Barnsley fire station was completed earlier this month and went operational yesterday (Tuesday 17 August).

The energy efficient building on Broadway, Kingstone replaces the 60-year-old fire station on the same site which had reached the end of its operational life.

Firefighters had been housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst the year-long construction of the new station was completed.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Carlin, said: “This is a really special day, as the new station has been several years in the planning and represents part of our vision to provide all our firefighters with modern, comfortable and energy efficient spaces in which to live and work.

“The new station has been completed to a very high specification and with the wishes of the firefighters who will work there taken into account at every stage. It has been paid for using money set aside from the Authority’s reserves and we expect it to provide an outstanding service to the people of Barnsley for many years to come.”

An existing unused building adjacent to the fire station will be re-purposed and upgraded to 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 at the new fire station include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

The investment forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around £8 million being set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate.

Bond Bryan acted as architects for the project, with JF Finnegans acting as contractors.

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South Yorkshire firefighters join mammoth ride in bid to raise vital charity cash

Two South Yorkshire firefighters are amongst a 20 strong team bidding to cycle the length of the UK to raise mental health awareness and thousands for charity.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Mark Peart and Paul Simmonite are joining firefighting colleagues from Suffolk for the 10 day, 1,000 mile ride from Lands End to John O’Groats in September.

The team are aiming to raise £50,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports the mental, physical and social needs of all serving and retired members of the UK’s fire family.

Paul has been a firefighter for 29 years and is currently based at Aston Park fire station. He said: “I’ve worked at stations across South Yorkshire and seen things that most people will thankfully never see, but due to the nature of the family feel of the fire and rescue service there has always been support available to me.

“I know The Fire Fighters Charity provides lots of mental health support though, so raising for them was something I really wanted to do.

“After meeting up and spending a day cycling with the group from Suffolk, I was honoured and privileged when they contacted me and asked me to join the team on this epic adventure. It’s been on my bucket list for years to ride the length of the UK, so I jumped at the chance.

“To be able to challenge myself with the mental and physical aspects of this adventure and knowing others will benefit from the team’s efforts is really inspiring.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby, said: “Mark and Paul have the support of the whole fire service behind them. Not only are they raising money for a charity which does so much for serving and retired fire service staff and their families, they are also raising much needed awareness of the mental health issues which many emergency service workers face.

“I’ll be joining the team for part of the ride- but the scale of the full challenge is absolutely enormous and I’d encourage people to dig deep and donate to help inspire them to complete this incredible feat.”

The team begin their mammoth ride on Monday 20 September, stopping at eight fire stations across the UK along the way.

To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/longestride

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