South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Three South Yorkshire fire service staff named in national honours list

Three fire and rescue staff from South Yorkshire are named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.

Control room operator Jess Grayson has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

She was named a BEM for services to mental health, having used her own mental health experiences to spearhead attempts to tackle the wellbeing issues firefighters and other emergency services workers face.

Alongside her day-to-day duties in the control room Jess, a Watch Manager, also trained resilience staff brought in to support the service’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fleur Holland and Alex Johnson are the other members of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue staff to have received honours, each being named recipients of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

During the pandemic, Watch Manager Fleur used her role within the service’s community safety team to help coordinate the delivery of hundreds of food parcels and thousands of prescriptions to people with no other means of support.

Acutely aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the mental health younger people, she also used her role as one of the service’s youth engagement leads to organise a fundraising challenge for the service’s fire cadets. This was as a way of getting the young cadets, some of whom come from vulnerable backgrounds, to channel their physical and mental energy into something positive. The ‘999 challenge’ she inspired was adopted by fire cadets branches nationally and has raised more than £6,000 for The Fire Fighter’s Charity.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson has led the county’s fire and rescue service throughout the pandemic, after becoming South Yorkshire’s first female Chief Fire Officer in 2020.

She joined joined Derbyshire Fire & Rescue as a firefighter in 1992, serving at stations across the county during a successful career in which she rose to the rank of Area Manager. She joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017 as Assistant Chief Fire Officer, before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer and then Chief Fire Officer.

For many years, Alex has been a member of the Executive Committee of Women in the Fire Service, a national network which supports the development of women in the fire sector. In 2019 she was named the ‘most influential woman in fire’ by FIRE magazine.

Outstanding men and women from fire and rescue services right across the United Kingdom are nominated to receive national honours each year, although only a tiny proportion of those nominations are successful.

For more information on the honours system, visit the government website here.

Fire station to be base for new Ambulance response point

Ambulance crews have started responding to 999 calls from a fire station in Doncaster where a new local ambulance response point has been located.

Following a year of planning and preparation between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the construction of a multi-use Portakabin has been completed on site at Rossington fire station. The Portakabin, which is now fully operational, will act as a base for ambulance crews working in and around the Rossington area.

Located within the grounds of the fire station, it provides local ambulance crews with an additional base for mobilisation to incidents and facilities for staff to take rest breaks.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Group Manager, Shayne Tottie said: “Providing Yorkshire Ambulance Service with this space to operate from is a great asset for the village of Rossington as well as surrounding areas. It will provide ambulance crews with access to welfare facilities whilst ensuring the best operational coverage possible.

“There are a number of similar set-ups in South Yorkshire, including the facilities available at Edlington and Adwick fire stations and this is just one of the many ways that we are continuing to support our partner services in the region.”

Jackie Cole, Head of Operations (South Yorkshire) at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, commented:  “The new facility in Rossington is the latest addition to our hub and spoke network in Doncaster and joins similar local ambulance response points at Bentley, Hatfield, Adwick and Edlington and our main hub in Clay Lane West.  We are pleased to have worked in partnership with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and are very grateful for their support to get everything up and running.”

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 and this is another success in achieving that duty.

Services come together to offer blue light advice for road users

Fire services across Yorkshire are re-iterating their advice to road users on what to do when coming across blue light vehicles, with more cars now on the roads due to lockdown restrictions easing.

Stay calm, pull over safely and give as much room as possible is the key message from the four brigades – South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside.

Drivers are also being urged not to perform emergency stops in the middle of a road. This, the services say, can end up slowing emergency vehicles down or even bring them to a complete halt.

“People’s response to blue light vehicles is generally amazing, and I thank anyone who has ever pulled over to let us pass, but it’s really important that people do it in the right way,” said South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Station Manager, Wayne Sutcliffe.

“The last thing we need when trying to get to an incident is a collision with a vehicle so, with more cars now returning to our roads due to lockdown restrictions easing, we thought this would be a pretty good time to re-iterate our advice.

“Our key ask is that people stay calm and pull over safely to give us a route through but, as well as being safe, it’s important people follow the Highway Code too – mounting kerbs is definitely not advised, nor is crossing double white lines or going through red lights.

“There’s a really good Blue Light Aware video that explains the reasoning behind all of these things and I’d highly recommend all drivers take a few minutes to watch and understand it.”

The Highway Code states that drivers should give way to blue light vehicles but should avoid moving through a red light, moving into a bus lane or entering a yellow box junction.

Motorists are also advised not to tailgate blue light vehicles once they have passed as this puts the driver, other road users and those within the emergency vehicle at risk.

“Really this is about being calm and sensible. We need room, and we need to get through, but we don’t need or want people breaking laws and crashing their cars,” Wayne added.

“What we also need is for people to park sensibly, too. Double parking can be a huge problem, particularly for the fire service, and I’d encourage everyone to just stop and think, each time they pull up, whether or not we’d be able to get through the gap they’re leaving.”

The Blue Light Aware video, produced by GEM Motoring Assist, can be viewed on their website – here: www.bluelightaware.org.uk.

It is widely regarded by police, fire and ambulance services across the country as an essential watch for all UK motorists.

Fire service asks for public help with arson crack down

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are asking the public to help them crack down on deliberate fires across the county, by reporting incident details to a dedicated new fire line.

In response to the 3900 deliberate fire incidents they were called to in last year, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has joined up with an arm of the national charity, Crimestoppers.

FireStoppers, which works in the same way as Crimestoppers, allows the public to anonymously report any information they have on deliberate fire-setting.

This can be done by calling a dedicated phone number, 0800 169 5558, or by using an online form – www.firestoppersreport.co.uk. Once reported, the details will be anonymised and used as part of fire and police investigations.

The service says it hopes the new initiative will help reduce call-outs, protect public property and keep people safe – as well as having environmental benefits too.

“We’ve made great strides in terms of reducing house fires over the last 10 years, but nearly 4000 deliberate fires in one year is 4000 too many,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“We want to show people that we are taking this issue seriously and we also felt we needed to provide people a safe, anonymous route to report details of arson attacks to us.

“Other fire services across the country have successfully reduced deliberate fire setting by up to 20 percent through this service, and we’re hoping it will have a positive impact here.

“Our ask of the public is simple – if you know anything about deliberate fire-setting in your area then please report it via the FireStoppers line and help us crack down on these fires.”

This latest fire service campaign comes after firefighters were called out to 3945 deliberate fires across South Yorkshire last year.

Figures show that Doncaster was the worst hit area, with 1116, followed by Rotherham with 1053, Barnsley with 989 and Sheffield with 787.

Joint fire and police vehicle workshops hailed a success

South Yorkshire’s police and fire services have hailed the success of a new joint facility for collision repairs- less than six months after opening.

South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue worked together to develop the new building, which is next to Rotherham fire station in Eastwood.

Everything from paint jobs to high-tech diagnostic work and repairs get carried out at the workshops, with hundreds of vehicles from across both organisations’ fleets passing through the facility each year.

The move also helped to create a new central stores facility for the fire service, creating a better place to store, secure and administer equipment for frontline firefighters.

Head of joint vehicle fleet management Sarah Gilding, said: “Our workshop mechanics are instrumental in keeping operational vehicles ready to respond to emergencies, so it’s only right that they now have a light, bright, modern facility in which to carry out their work.

“A new spray booth means we can achieve a better quality finish on our vehicles, whilst technicians have the very latest equipment available to help them diagnose faults. The workshop staff from each organisation also now work really well together- sharing experiences and learning on the huge variety of vehicles they work on- from HGVs to bicycles.”

The two services brought their vehicle fleets under a shared management structure in 2018. The following year they were named fleet of the year at a major national industry awards.

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.

In South Yorkshire, the police and fire and rescue services have already built a joint police and fire station in Maltby, formed a shared community safety department and developed more than 50 other areas of joint working.

Fire service makes water safety plea

South Yorkshire’s fire service is asking people to stay out of water this summer, unless they are part of an organised open water swimming group.

The message comes as part of a national week of action, run from Monday 26 April to Monday 3 May by the National Fire Chief’s Council, in which fire services across the country are urging people to stay safe near water.

Firefighters hope that by joining forces, and gaining support of partners such as the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), they can reduce the 144 water rescues and incidents they attended last year.

This push also comes less than a year after the family of local teenager, Taylor Matthews, shared their tragic story in hope of saving other young lives.

Taylor, also known as Tay, drowned in Doncaster’s Skelbrooke Quarry in July 2018. He was out with friends when he jumped in from a bank around 30 feet high.

As soon as he entered the water, he suffered from cold water shock, which saw his body shut down. The inquest into his death ruled that he died from immersion.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, what happened to Taylor was a tragedy, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Watch Manager Craig Huxley, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) lead for water safety.

“That’s why we’re supporting this week of action, and will be campaigning around water safety over the coming months as the weather warms up.

“Our message is simple – people should stay out of the water unless they are part of an open water swimming group, of which there are several in and around South Yorkshire.

“Unless you are part of one of these groups, you shouldn’t be going anywhere near open bodies of water such as quarries, lakes and reservoirs.

“To start with, lots of these places are privately owned, so people shouldn’t be going there anyway. Then, beyond that, there are a wide range of risks with jumping into open water.

“Firstly, the water is almost always colder than it looks. As was the case with Taylor, your body can temporarily shut down from cold water shock which can stop even strong swimmers.

“Secondly, you don’t know what’s under the surface. There could be anything such as trollies, broken glass or plastic and reeds that can trap you.

“Finally, there are often hidden currents in bodies of water that can overpower even the strongest of swimmers. It’s just not worth the risk.”

In the run up to the week of action, officers from SYFR have developed a range of water safety videos that have been sent into primary and secondary schools across the county.

The service has also joined up with the RLSS UK to develop a range of education and safety materials, including the development of a dedicated water safety website – www.syfrwater.co.uk.

This website features a range of information on how to keep you, your friends and your family safe, and also features interactive games for children.

Lee Heard, Charity Director for the Royal Life Saving Society UK, said:

“We know how tempting it is to jump in to cool off on a hot day, but the difference between the air temperature and the water temperature will literally take your breath away and dramatically reduce your ability to self-rescue.

“Swimming with a group at a recognised site is just one of many ways you can really have fun in the water, safe in the knowledge that the set-up is designed to look out for all of you.

“RLSS UK urge people to learn to enjoy water safely before they head out, ensuring everyone has a great day.”

New Barnsley fire station taking shape

A brand new, energy efficient station for Barnsley’s firefighters is taking shape.

The former three-storey building on Broadway, Kingstone has been demolished and the steelwork for a new two storey, three bay facility on the same site is already up.

Firefighters are being housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst construction of the new building takes place

Director of Support Services Stuart Booth, said: “We’re making really good progress with the development, which represents part of our vision to provide all our firefighters with modern, comfortable and energy efficient spaces in which to live and work.

“We’re confident that this major building project, which is being paid for using money set aside from the Authority’s reserves, will become fully operational later this summer and provide an outstanding service to the people of Barnsley for many years to come.”

A separate multi-use facility is 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. A new training building to complement the existing drill tower is to be constructed also. Both of these builds will take place once the main fire station is complete.

Energy saving measures at the new fire station will 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 appointed as contractors.

Police and fire team reflects on ‘year like no other’ 12 months on from first lockdown

An emergency services team on the frontline of keeping people safe during the pandemic has revealed the full breadth of its work, as it reflects on a year’s activity since the UK’s first lockdown.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police’s joint community safety department has delivered education packages to more than 8,000 children, visited 2,500 high-risk vulnerable people and given guns and knives training to over 2,100 pupils.

Thousands more children have attended internet safety sessions, 64 people accessed the department’s ‘Think Family’ arson intervention scheme and 11,000 school children attended the interactive safety centre- Lifewise- when Covid-19 restrictions were eased last year.

All of this came on top of the team’s efforts to support vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, including deliveries of essential food and medicines to hundreds of homes.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, leads the joint department, said: “The last 12 months really have been a year like no other for us as a team, but I just feel so incredibly proud of the way our staff and volunteers have stepped up to help keep local people safe.

“Like so many organisations, we’ve had to adapt very quickly- suspending or transferring our core activities online the moment the first lockdown was announced, whilst also taking on new tasks to make sure vulnerable people in South Yorkshire were getting the support they needed.

“Staff from across fire and policing have risen to that challenge brilliantly, though of course we are now looking forward to delivering more face-to-face help to people as lockdown restrictions hopefully continue to ease throughout the remainder of this year.

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.

The joint community safety department was formed in 2018, bringing together existing teams in the police and fire and rescue services.

The team’s core activities include the delivery of schools education work, safety visits to people’s homes and youth engagement initiatives such as its award winning Princes Trust Team Programme.

False information on social media targeted in new South Yorkshire campaign

Misinformation is the target of a new campaign in South Yorkshire, which seeks to curb the spread of false content online.

Health chiefs, emergency services and councils across South Yorkshire are coming together to warn people to think twice about the things they share- and to get their information from official sources.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign draws on local references and familiar conversations to point out how well-meaning conversations online can quickly develop and become harmful.

Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Greg Fell, said: “Research suggests that younger people are particularly susceptible to misleading and false information, which can spread to tens of thousands of people very quickly on social media or via instant messaging applications like Whatsapp.

“Some of the examples we’re sharing as part of this campaign are intentionally light hearted, but the issue is a really serious one. False or misleading information has the potential to cause harm and cost lives during any emergency, but especially during a public health crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Clearly there’s little we can do to stop people posting false information online, nor are we in a position where we want to curb people’s freedom of speech. What we do want people to do is to think twice before they share information online and to refer to trusted, official sources wherever possible- like government, council or emergency service websites.”

The ‘Killer Detail’ campaign has been developed by public agencies which form part of South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum. The forum is responsible for overseeing the region’s response to major emergencies, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

A study published by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI in December found one in three people in the UK have been exposed to messages discouraging the public from getting a coronavirus vaccine.

The research revealed that a notable minority believe conspiracy theories- with belief especially high among young people and those who get a lot of information on the pandemic from social media platforms.

The Government launched its own campaign to combat minsinformation online last in March, using shareable videos and trust community figures to call for people to check before they share.

Fire staff to deliver vaccine as part of St John Ambulance volunteer scheme

Fire service staff have been trained by St John Ambulance, as part of a volunteer scheme to help deliver the NHS vaccination programme.

Staff including firefighters, officers and support were trained to administer the vaccine and to support people as they go through the vaccination process.

The volunteers will complete up to two shifts a month with St John Ambulance as part of the huge national effort to get the country vaccinated.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “No matter what the challenge is, fire and rescue service staff are ready, willing and able to help our communities wherever it is needed.

“I am very proud of every member of staff who has stepped forward so far to receive this training and incredibly grateful to St John Ambulance for giving us the skills, training and opportunity to do our bit.

“Myself and the other staff who have volunteered really can’t wait to get out to a vaccination centre to support this monumental national effort.”

Fire and rescue staff have already delivered more than 120,000 vaccines nationally.

In South Yorkshire, the fire service has supported the local response to the pandemic by delivering food and medicine to isolated people, distributing more than 1.3 million pieces of PPE to frontline health workers and working with military planners to identify vaccination sites. Some firefighters also volunteered to drive ambulances during the first wave.

The service was recently presented with an award by the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire Carole O’Neill in recognition of its work during the pandemic.