Young fire fan visits South Yorkshire as part of 2,500-station journey

An 11-year-old autistic schoolboy who dreams of being a firefighter has visited stations in South Yorkshire as part of efforts to visit every fire facility in the country.

Andrew Impey, from Southsea, Hampshire recently ticked off the 999th station, the emergency services number marking a milestone on his 2,500-station journey.

This week he added Birley Moor, Parkway and Elm Lane fire stations to his list as part of his mission.

He had been aiming to raise £999 for The Fire Fighters Charity but upped this to £1,943 to mark the period when the National Fire Service was born. He has so far raised more than £1,700.

In addition to stations, he has visited individual departments, specialist units and even fire crews based at airports.

This year he will be visiting the US with his family to meet firefighters from the Fire Department of the City of New York.

He has also kitted his room out as a fire station with more than 800 bits of equipment and trinkets he has been given by various services and pieces he has picked up at expos and trade shows.

He has 32 helmets, 10 full fire kits and even a mini-set of breathing apparatus as well as a control room-style map and a firefighters’ pole.

Andrew documents his travels on social media, where he uses his middle name and is known as Andrew Dane, on #oneladschallenge.

Two weeks left to have your say on how fire service delivers its work to local people

There are two weeks left for people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how the fire service plans to deliver its work between now and 2020.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue does not propose making any further reductions in fire station or fire engine numbers in plans presented to the service’s governing Fire Authority last month, despite having lost more than £14 million from its annual budget since 2010.

But its proposals do include making more of its firefighters available in the day when crews are busiest, changing its prevention work to focus on those most at risk and proactively exploring collaboration opportunities with other emergency services.

Key changes outlined in the service’s draft Integrated Risk Management Plan 2017-20 include:

  • Changing the staffing of the second fire engine at Sheffield’s Central fire station so that it is available all of the time in the day, but ‘on call’ at night
  • Adding two additional fire engines at two fire stations in South Yorkshire, which would also be available all of the time in the day, but ‘on call’ at night
  • Continuing to offer fire prevention guidance to all, but prioritising its free Home Safety Checks service for those who the service believes are at the greatest risk of fire
  • Finding further ways of working more closely with the police and ambulance services, as a new law now makes it a requirement for all emergency services to do

The plans also consider how the fire service intends to respond to Government’s efforts to reform the fire service nationally, including requirements to provide a more flexible and diverse workforce.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Our vision for the lifetime of this plan is to provide the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.

“We are not proposing any further significant changes to our core 999 service, beyond those outlined in previous plans. But the proposals we have outlined in this plan do explain how we intend to develop our service to become more efficient in what we do and make the biggest possible difference to those most at risk of fire.

“These are draft proposals and we really want to gather views from the public on the plans we have put forward.”

Members of the public can share their views on the plans until 27 March. Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.

People can share their views via an online survey, in writing or at a series of community roadshow events- the last of which takes place at Barnsley’s Alhambra Centre tomorrow (Tuesday 14 March).

Click here to read the proposals in full, for more information on the consultation and to have your say

Sheffield emergency services team attends hundreds of homes during six month pilot

A joint emergency services team set up to protect vulnerable people and reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield will continue its work for another six months, having visited hundreds of homes in the city during a successful trial.

The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, set up by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police and supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, sees staff visit homes to reduce fire risk in properties, provide reassurance and support to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, improve security and help people who have fallen.

The team has carried out almost 300 crime prevention checks and more than 350 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms, during an initial six month trial.

The team also responds to help people at high volume, lower priority incidents, including helping 61 people who have had a fall, are not seriously injured, but are unable to get up on their own. Other work has included visiting dozens of vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour or burglaries and completing enquiries in relation to ten missing people.

Some of this work traditionally takes police staff and paramedics off the road for many hours.

The team won the award for best NHS Collaboration at the Health Business Awards 2016 event in London last year and emergency service bosses say the team is the best possible example of 999 agencies working more closely together in South Yorkshire.

SYFR Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps, said: “During its first six months, this team has more than proven its concept and has helped hundreds of people in Sheffield at the same time as keeping police and ambulance crews available for other, more serious types of incident.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work as well.”

Chief Inspector Jenny Lax from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The LIFE team is an excellent example of emergency services working together through collaboration to reduce the vulnerability of people in our communities and improve their quality of life”.

The team operates using two specialist vehicles and consists of four staff – two South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue employees and two South Yorkshire Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

The scheme has been funded by South Yorkshire Fire Authority and researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been commissioned to evaluate its effectiveness.

Last year the Government announced new proposals to transform the way the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work together. It wants to encourage collaboration by introducing 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, fire crews already attend hundreds of ‘medical break-ins’ every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them. This work used to be carried out by the police.

A joint police and fire station in Maltby will open later this year, whilst five ambulance stand-by points are being created at five other fire service premises across the county.

Public invited to have their say on fire service plans at community events

The fire service is holding public events where people can share their views on how it plans to deliver its services between now and 2020.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue does not propose making any further reductions in fire station or fire engine numbers in its plans, despite having lost more than £14 million from its annual budget since 2010.

But its proposals do include making more of its firefighters available in the day when crews are busiest, changing its prevention work to focus on those most at risk and proactively exploring collaboration opportunities with other emergency services.

Members of the public can share their views at the following events:

  • Sheffield: Wednesday 22 February 10am to 2pm, Moor Market
  • Doncaster: Wednesday 1 March 10am to 2pm, Frenchgate Centre
  • Rotherham: Wednesday 8 March 10am to 2pm, Parkgate
  • Barnsley: Tuesday 14 March 10am to 2pm, Alhambra Centre

People will also be able to pick up fire safety advice, including tips on making older friends, relatives and neighbours safer in their homes.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “We are not proposing any further significant changes to our core 999 service, beyond those outlined in previous plans. But the proposals we have outlined in this plan do explain how we intend to develop our service to become more efficient in what we do and make the biggest possible difference to those most at risk of fire.

“These are draft proposals and we really want to gather views from the public on the plans we have put forward.”

Members of the public can share their views on the plans between now and 27 March. Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.

Click here read the proposals in full and have your say.

Fire Authority approves Council Tax precept rise

The fire service’s governing Fire Authority has decided to increase its portion of Council Tax by 1.97% next year, following its budget setting meeting on Monday (13 February).

The decision by members to increase the fire service’s share of Council Tax will raise an additional £441,000 in annual funding for the fire service.

Current indications are that SYFR will lose £2 million in its Government funding in 2017/18, when compared with 2016/17.

Cllr Alan Atkin, Vice Chair of the Authority, said: “We are absolutely committed to providing the best possible fire and rescue service to the people of South Yorkshire. That is why we are asking people to pay just a few pence a week more for their fire service. I understand the economic hardship being felt by households. However, this small increase helps us to balance the fire service’s budget and protect its assets in the long term.”

Fire service seeks views from the public on how it delivers its work

The fire service is calling on people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how it plans to deliver its work to local people between now and 2020.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue does not propose making any further reductions in fire station or fire engine numbers in plans presented to the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (13 February), despite having lost more than £14 million from its annual budget since 2010.

But its proposals do include making more of its firefighters available in the day when crews are busiest, changing its prevention work to focus on those most at risk and proactively exploring collaboration opportunities with other emergency services.

Key changes outlined in the service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan 2017-20 include:

  • Changing the staffing of the second fire engine at Sheffield’s Central fire station so that it is available all of the time in the day, but ‘on call’ at night
  • Adding two additional fire engines at two fire stations in South Yorkshire, which would also be available all of the time in the day, but ‘on call’ at night
  • Continuing to offer fire prevention guidance to all, but prioritising its free Home Safety Checks service for those who the service believes are at the greatest risk of fire
  • Finding further ways of working more closely with the police and ambulance services, as a new law now makes it a requirement for all emergency services to do

The plans also consider how the fire service intends to respond to Government’s efforts to reform the fire service nationally, including requirements to provide a more flexible and diverse workforce.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Our vision for the lifetime of this plan is to provide the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.

“We are not proposing any further significant changes to our core 999 service, beyond those outlined in previous plans. But the proposals we have outlined in this plan do explain how we intend to develop our service to become more efficient in what we do and make the biggest possible difference to those most at risk of fire.

“These are draft proposals and we really want to gather views from the public on the plans we have put forward.”

Members of the public can share their views on the plans between now and 27 March. Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.

People can share their views via an online survey, in writing or at a series of community roadshow events.

To have your say, complete the survey here

Firefighters attend over 350 medical emergencies in ambulance service partnership

South Yorkshire firefighters attended hundreds of medical emergencies last year, under the county’s first Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme.

The scheme is a joint initiative between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) which sees firefighters called out to certain life-threatening incidents at the same time as an ambulance.

On-call firefighters from Rossington, Stocksbridge and Dearne fire stations were sent to 358 medical emergencies in 2016, including cardiac arrests and incidents stating chest pains and breathing difficulties. At other incidents, firefighters have provided support and made the patient comfortable until the ambulance service arrived on scene.

Training for firefighters who are part of the scheme includes basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.

An EFR is dispatched at the same time as an ambulance and does not replace the usual emergency medical response from YAS. However, their location within the local community could mean they are nearer to the scene in those first critical minutes of a medical emergency, delivering life-saving care until an ambulance arrives.

They also support and complement other volunteer community first responder schemes within South Yorkshire, ensuring the level of medical provision to local communities is supplemented.

Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their fire station allow and the scheme does not impact fire cover.

Tony Carlin, Head of Emergency Response, said: “Just over a year into this scheme going live, our firefighters are already showing the incredible value they can add to their communities and the role we can play as a fire service in enhancing the work of our emergency service partners and volunteer community first responders.

“Our role as a fire service will always be to protect our communities and reach and save those who are in danger as quickly as possible. A new statutory duty has made it a requirement for us to work more closely with our blue light partners, and this scheme is a perfect example of how we are already doing that.”

Fire service calls on loved ones to help protect older people from fire

A campaign to protect older people from fire is being launched in South Yorkshire, after shock new figures reveal more than half of the county’s recent fire deaths involved people over the age of 60.

Since 2009, 42 people died in accidental house fires in South Yorkshire. Of these, 22 (53%) were aged 60 or over.

Of the last ten fatalities, six involved residents aged 60 or over and two involved people in their 50s. Several of the victims were living alone and only half had a working smoke alarm installed.

The statistics are reflected nationally and demonstrate why South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is focussing its work to prevent fires on those who are most at risk.

Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “We have known for many years that isolated, older people are significantly more likely to die in house fires. But we also know that some older people can be hard to reach by traditional methods of engaging them around fire safety.

“That’s why we are calling on relatives, friends and neighbours to help us, help them by looking out for some common fire hazards, helping them test their smoke alarms and referring them to us if they need further support.”

The fire service says that taking just five minutes to carry out some simple checks the next time you see an older relative or friend could prevent a fire and help your loved one to stay in their own home safely, for longer.

As part of the campaign, a video is being released which explains some simple things people can do to help. They include:

  • Test their smoke alarms- some older people may find it difficult to reach their alarms to test them regularly
  • Check electrics are safe- look out for frayed wiring or overloaded sockets
  • Make sure escape routes are clear

Change to staffing of second fire engine at Rotherham confirmed

The staffing of the second fire engine at Rotherham fire station will change next month, as one of the final changes approved by councillors four years ago is implemented.

The second fire engine at the site on Fitzwilliam Road will remain permanently available in the day, but become ‘on call’ at night by the end of March.

The decision to make the change was approved by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s governing Fire Authority in 2013.

It was reaffirmed in an efficiency plan approved by the Government last year, where the service outlined proposals to make more of its fire engines available in the daytime when firefighters are busiest responding to emergencies, carrying out safety work or training.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “We have faced big cuts to our funding, but have repeatedly committed to providing the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.

 “This change is one of the last changes agreed four years ago. The second fire engine is not being taken away, but will become ‘on call’ at night and, as with all our fire stations, our 999 response service will continue to be supported by crews from other, nearby stations.

“We will soon be talking to the public about how we plan to deliver our services beyond 2017 and will look forward to listening to their views on how we plan to develop our work to keep people safe.”

The fire service has lost £14 million in its Government funding since 2010 and is likely to lose a further £2 million between now and 2020.

Changes to the second fire engines at Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster fire stations were approved in something called an Integrated Risk Management Plan (2013-17), following consultation with the public and other stakeholders.

A similar, draft plan for how the fire service will deliver its service to local people beyond 2017 will be considered by Fire Authority members in February before members of the public are invited to share their views.

The plans to be presented will not propose any further reductions in fire station or fire engine numbers, but will consider changes to the fire service’s work to prevent emergencies and a new legal duty to collaborate with the police and ambulance services. The fire service will also commit to using its existing resources as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

Public’s views sought on fire service Council Tax choice

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on what the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) council tax precept should be for 2017-18. The aim of the consultation is to gain an understanding as to the public’s preferred level of the precept- 1.97% or no increase.

Current indications are that SYFR will lose around £2 million in its Government funding in 2017/18, when compared with 2016/17.

Householders in Band D currently pay £67.33 per year for their Fire and Rescue Service, around £1.29 per week. The decision to increase council tax would raise around £441,000 in annual funding for the fire service.

Fire Authority Members will make their decision on Council Tax at the fire and rescue authority meeting on Monday 13 February.

To share your views, please fill in the short survey below. The survey closes on 31 January.

Council tax survey