South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Smoke alarms and sprinklers combine to save Doncaster resident

The combination of working smoke alarms and retro-fitted sprinklers have prevented a potentially fatal fire in a Doncaster flat.

Firefighters were mobilised to Shaftesbury House, Doncaster, at 1.05am on Thursday 25 August, following a call from a resident.

This resident reports leaving their chip pan on the hob before falling asleep. Whilst asleep, the chip pan overheated and set light.

Working smoke alarms alerted the resident to the fire, prompting them to call 999 for help. At the same time, the sprinkler system activated – fully extinguishing the blaze.

Upon the arrival of fire crews, only some minor smoke logging in the flat remained. Nobody was harmed in the incident and the resident was quickly moved into a nearby flat.

“This is yet another clear example of how sprinklers can save lives and save property,” said Roger Brason, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s lead sprinkler advocate.

“When the sprinklers were installed at Shaftesbury House and other high-rise buildings in Doncaster we said we were delighted, and this is why.

“Had it not been for the sprinkler system, this fire would have spread very quickly and could have caused significant damage to the property and, potentially, seriously hurt the occupant.

“Credit should also go to the working smoke alarms which alerted the resident who was asleep at the time of the fire. Together, these are two amazing devices.”

The sprinkler system in this flat was installed in 2019 as part of a joint initiative between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, St Leger Homes and Doncaster Council.

This initiative saw all three partner agencies come together to get sprinkler systems retrospectively fitted in all nine high-rise residential buildings across the Doncaster district.

Dave Richmond, Chief Executive of St Leger Homes, said: “This incident shows the effectiveness of the high-rise fire safety measures that we have put in place, and how important sprinkler systems are in safeguarding people and their homes.

“We will be providing help and support to the household affected and we strongly encourage all tenants to be careful about preventing fire in their home.”

Following several national examples showing the value of sprinklers in tower blocks, they are now mandatory in new residential buildings that are 11 or more metres in height.

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SYFR celebrate double win at Cutlers Awards

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue staff members are celebrating a double award win at the Cutlers’ Company Police and Fire Service annual awards in recognition of their exemplary service.

The Service’s Sprinkler Advocate, Roger Branson (pictured above), received the Individual Award in recognition for his expertise, dedication and relentless championing of sprinklers which has had a monumental impact in his service, community and sector.

His leading role in the retrofitting of sprinklers in a high-rise block of flats at Callow Mount in Sheffield 12 years ago is now hailed around the world as proof of the relatively low costs of installing sprinklers in tower blocks.

He has since overseen nearly £2 million of grant funding in South Yorkshire to install sprinklers in high-risk homes.

The Building Risk Review team received the Team Award for their incredible work carried out following the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

The project required all high rise residential buildings within scope to be inspected and a specific data set be returned to the National Fire Chief’s Council no later than by the end of 2021.

In August 2020, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Business Fire Safety Department established a specific team of officers to set up a project group to deal with this task.

This project has generated a huge amount of work for the team – more than 200 buildings were inspected and 520 jobs issued to inspectors.

It was a full team effort, with some of the work issued out to officers within the Business Fire Safety (BFS) department and operational staff on modified duties.

Thanks to the efforts the project was completed well within the required timescale.

The awards were hosted by the Master Cutler, Mr James Tear, and Mistress Cutler, Mrs Jo Tear on Monday 18 July.

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Public asked to do their bit ahead of second heatwave

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging members of the public to be extra careful over the coming days, following a new extreme heat warning from the Met Office.

The national weather forecaster has also raised the fire severity risk level to ‘exceptional’ for some parts of the country – in addition to its four-day Amber weather warning.

This has prompted South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s fire officers to issue another plea to the public around helping to prevent any more wildfires across the county.

They are asking people to stop having garden bonfires during the period of extreme heat, refrain from taking disposable BBQs out with them and to ensure they don’t leave rubbish – especially glass bottles – lying around.

Specifically, officers are asking people to consider the impact of their behaviour and, ultimately, wildfires, on things like the local landscape and wildlife.

“During periods of intense heat the ground becomes so dry – this means that fires are easier to start and will spread so much quicker,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint fire and police community safety department.

“Our ask of people is, first and foremost, that they don’t burn rubbish in their garden over the coming days. During a heatwave these small fires can easily get out of hand.

“We’re then asking that, especially this coming weekend, people don’t take disposable BBQs out with them to parks, fields or moorland areas. Whilst we know most people are very responsible, the risk of wildfire is literally as high as it can possibly be right now.

“And then last but not least, please take your litter home with you or put it in the bin. This one may seem random, but glass bottles in particular can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires.

“Ultimately we want people to consider the impact of their actions on not just us, but also on local wildlife. When you’re out in the countryside and in moorland areas, you are in their home, and what starts as a small fire can easily grow bigger and see them displaced.”

This latest plea comes after the service’s control room was inundated with calls late last month on what some people are terming ‘heatwave day’ – where temperatures hit 40 degrees in some parts of the country.

Across the 24 hours of that day – Tuesday 19 July – fire control operators in South Yorkshire took 2,000 direct calls, more than 1,500 of which were in relation to emergency incidents.

The service described the levels of demand as ‘unprecedented’ – with Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kirby, issuing a statement afterwards to thank staff for going above and beyond.

As well as urging people to be careful with things like BBQs and not to have garden bonfires, the service is also asking residents to be vigilant around deliberate fire-setting.

“Lots of the incidents we attended in July were started deliberately, which is really disappointing, but unfortunately not a huge surprise to us.

“Our final ask of the public is that if they know anyone who is intentionally setting fires – which tie up our crews and can put people at serious risk – then they report it to us.”

Residents can share information on arson, anonymously, by calling 0800 169 5558.

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