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Firefighter Ellie becomes family’s third generation to serve at Askern fire station

Three generations of the same firefighting family attended an extra special ceremony to mark the graduation of the latest recruit to join the ranks at Askern fire station.

Ellie Adams, aged 23, has became the third generation of her family to serve at Askern, Doncaster after completing her initial training and ‘passing out’ in front of family and friends at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Sheffield training base.

Amongst those watching were Ellie’s dad Steve Adams and grandad Michael Jackson who both served on-call at Askern fire station.

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.

Dad Steve, who retires from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue after 35 years’ service later this month, said: “It was an incredibly proud day for the whole family. Firefighting isn’t something we’ve necessarily pushed on Ellie as a family, but as soon as she heard that we were recruiting at Askern fire station she wanted to give it a go. Like the rest of the recent recruits, she’s had to work really hard to complete her initial training, but the way she’s applied herself to it all has made me really proud.”

Ellie’s grandad Michael Jackson joined Askern fire station in 1960 aged 17- combining his firefighting role with a full time job at the nearby colliery. He rose to the rank of sub-officer, before retiring from the fire service in 1981.

He’d been inspired to sign-up by his older brother Fred- a D-Day veteran who joined Doncaster Fire Brigade in 1947, before going on to become Chief Fire Officer in Hong Kong.

Michael is father-in-law to Steve, who began work at Askern in 1987 before becoming a full time firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 1996. He’s been there ever since, rising to the rank of Group Manager.

Now daughter Ellie has followed in both their footsteps. She joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in September after completing a pandemic disrupted university degree. She’s been working towards completing her initial training, culminating in last week’s ceremony.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is currently recruiting on-call firefighters at Askern, Rossington and Penistone fire station.

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

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Service launches exhibition as part of International Women’s Day

Inspirational women from across South Yorkshire’s fire service are being celebrated this week, as part of a brand new ‘Women of Fire’ exhibition.

Pulled together by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, as part of International Women’s Day, the exhibition features portrait photographs of eight women currently working within the service.

Organisers say that the exhibition has been designed to support this year’s official women’s day theme – #BreakTheBias – by celebrating the huge contributions of women to the fire service.

Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson, features alongside firefighters, senior leaders, corporate staff and control room operators.

She says that the exhibition has been designed to support this year’s official women’s day theme – #BreakTheBias – by celebrating the huge contributions of women to the fire service.

“We’re starting to see a really positive change in the perceptions around women in the fire service, which has been great, but we can’t stop now,” she said.

“Right across the country we have amazing women doing a vital role in the UK fire and rescue sector, as they have been for years, and International Women’s Day provides us with the perfect platform to celebrate this.

“This exhibition has been designed to show that you can be a woman, and a firefighter, both at the same time. The staff featured in the portraits are living examples of that.

“So if you’re a woman who has long considered applying for a career in the fire service, but you’ve never made the leap, we want you to check out our exhibition.

“Every woman in those photos has done it, and so can you.”

The physical ‘Women of Fire’ exhibition will be showcased at the Winter Gardens, Sheffield, between Wednesday 9 March and Monday 14 March.

Each of the staff involved in the exhibition has had two photos taken to capture two sides of their character – one reflecting their life at work and one reflecting their life outside of it.

The service has also developed a website dedicated to the exhibition – this can be viewed at Women of Fire (women-of-fire.co.uk) – and includes details of all those featured in the photographs.

The photographs for the exhibition were captured by Orestes S Rix, a portrait photographer who previously worked on the service’s FAMILY exhibition for Black History Month.

The service would also like to thank North Notts College who provided media make-up students who supported the exhibition.

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Firefighters to carry out high-rise training exercises to test new procedures

South Yorkshire firefighters will be practicing new procedures for responding to fires in high-rise blocks of flats, as part of work to adopt learning from incidents in tall buildings.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is carrying out multiple training exercises in each of the county’s four districts in the coming months.

The practical, live training will particularly focus on changes to evacuation procedures when fire compartmentation in tall buildings fails.

It will also help firefighters to further familiarise themselves with the lay outs and different risks presented by fires in tall buildings.

College students will perform the role of residents, to make the training as realistic as possible.

Area Manager Cath Toovey, said: “There have been some significant changes in guidance to the way all fire and rescue services respond to fires in tall buildings following national reviews and particularly as a result of the ongoing Grenfell Tower inquiry. It’s really important that we reflect on these changes as a service as ensure our frontline crews are aware of them.”

The exercises will take place at Albion, Buckley and Brittania Houses in Barnsley, Shaftesbury House in Doncaster, Beeversleigh in Rotherham and Keating Block, Leverton Gardens in Sheffield. The buildings have been chosen because of their suitability for the training- not because they are at any greater risk of fire.

Residents in the flats where the training is taking place have already been told the training is taking place.

“Whilst classroom and online training can be effective at explaining theoretical changes to our firefighters and incident commanders, there’s really no replacement for carrying out live, practical exercises like these. We’re particularly grateful to the residents in the buildings for their patience as we plan and deliver these exercises, and to the colleges, local authorities and housing associations for working with us the make the training as realistic and effective as possible. Community safety staff will also be on hand to give home fire safety advice to residents I requested”, said Cath.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has established a dedicated team to implement actions from the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The service announced last year that its Business Fire Safety inspectors had completed a Government-backed project to carry out safety reviews of all high-rise residential buildings in the county.

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New Chief Fire Officer for South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority (SYFRA) has appointed a new Chief Fire Officer.

Chris Kirby was appointed following a selection process which included a written application, interview with members of the Fire Authority and presentation to members of a staff stakeholder panel.

Barnsley-born Chris joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2020. He’d previously served with West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for more than two decades, having joined as a firefighter in 1998.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Tony Damms, said: “The Fire Authority’s appointments panel was greatly impressed by Chris’ obvious passion for improving the service for all those it serves and employs. His people centred approach, vision for change and determination to get things done all make him an outstanding candidate to lead South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in the future.”

Chris will take over the role in May, when the current Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM retires. Alex joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017 and has been Chief Fire Officer since 2020.

“Fire Authority members would like to thank Alex for the leadership she has shown in the role of Chief Fire Officer- particularly in leading the organisation through the pandemic and all of the challenges which that has brought and for her leadership during the 2019 floods. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours,” said Tony.

Chris Kirby said: “I am extremely proud to be offered the role of Chief Fire Officer in South Yorkshire. It is an honour to provide a first class service to the local community and to work alongside so many fantastic people.”

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Delight as service completes ambitious high-rise inspection project

All high-rise residential buildings in South Yorkshire have now been inspected by the county’s fire service, as part of a mammoth Government-backed project.

The team of inspectors, made up of staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s business safety department, started their ambitious inspection programme last November.

This came as part of a Government-driven ‘Building Risk Review’ project that sought to significantly increase the pace of high-rise inspection activity across the country.

In scope for the inspectors were all high-rise residential buildings, across South Yorkshire, that were over 18 metres in height.

Their aim was to have inspected all of these buildings by the end of 2021 – a target that, much to the delight of the team and senior officers across the service, has been met.

“When the team set out on this project, we all knew that the timescales were very ambitious, and a lot of hard work and dedication would be needed to meet them,” said Area Manager Simon Dunker, the service’s head of prevention and protection at the time this project began.

“What they have done is remarkable and they should all be really proud – for our service to have inspected all our high-rise residential buildings in just over a year is fantastic.

“And this isn’t just good news for us, either. Its good news for residents right across the county who can sleep that little bit easier, now, knowing that these checks have been done.”

Celebrations aside, inspectors are keen to stress that their work around high-rise buildings will still carry on throughout 2022 and beyond.

The inspection team will continue to work with building management and owners to ensure the project’s findings are implemented.

They will also join back up with other business fire safety officers who have been continuing to inspect all buildings, regardless of height, over the last 12 months.

More information about the now completed Building Risk Review project, and your fire safety responsibilities as a building owner, can be found at www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice.

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