House fire escape plan plea as huge survey reveals big knowledge gap

Fire officers are calling on families to make a house fire escape plan, after a major city-wide survey found less than half of parents discuss with children how to get out safely in the event of a blaze.

The Sheffield Parents Survey spoke to nearly 2,000 parents across the city about a range of topics, including fire safety.

It found that most people (95%) knew how to reduce the risk of fire in their home and that even more (96%) had at least one working smoke alarm.

But just two out of every five parents (43%) who responded said they had talked to their children about escaping quickly and safely in the event of a fire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue already talks to tens of thousands of children each year about escape routes and preventing fires during primary schools visits and at the Lifewise Centre, but fire safety officers want parents to do more to support their work.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “There are fewer house fires now than at any time in South Yorkshire’s history, but in the unlikely event that a blaze does occur it’s vital that everyone in the house knows what to do, especially in homes where there are young children.

“It’s important that on discovering a fire children know not to hide, which can often be their first instinct. Instead, we would encourage families to work together to know and discuss the best routes in and out of their house and to make sure that everyone knows where to find door and window keys in the event of a fire, especially at night.”

If your smoke alarms do go off or you discover a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.

Other advice includes:

  • Choose the best escape route– usually your normal way in and out of the home
  • If the first route is blocked, think of a second one, and keep those routes cleared at all times
  • Make sure everyone knows where to find door and window keys so they can get to them quickly in the event of a fire
  • Practice your escape plan with everyone if your house, so everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire

The fire service has also produced a video which teaches people how to make a family escape plan, which you can view below

Success for GPS dementia trackers

Families who have loved ones living with dementia have praised the use of trackers, which allow their relatives and emergency services to follow their movements, should they be reported missing.

The GPS trackers, which are worn on any item of clothing that someone frequently wears or is likely to have with them, have been given to 12 people in Sheffield who have dementia/Alzheimer’s.

Introduced by the Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) Team in South Yorkshire, the devices allow emergency services, and families, to trace a person’s movements more easily, as Acting Inspector Gayle Kirby explains.

“Our aim is to support those living with dementia/Alzheimer’s and when someone is reported missing, these trackers allow us to ensure they are found as safely and as quickly as possible so that they can be reunited with their loved ones.

“I hope that this offers some comfort to those families who have loved ones living with dementia/Alzheimer’s that with the trackers, we are in a much better position to ensure their wellbeing as soon as possible.”

Dena Berry, from Sheffield, whose mum has dementia and was last reported missing earlier this month, said that the tracker had given her family ‘peace of mind.’

She said: “I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s very simple to use, very accurate and all the family can be connected and monitor it at once, ensuring quick responses which will ultimately save police time. It has given the family peace of mind.”

Recently, Dena’s mum went missing and immediately her dad was alerted through the tracker. Dena was then able to track her, find her and bring her home before police needed to be called.

The LIFE team, made up of staff from South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, began trialling the devices in May earlier this year and are really pleased with the success they’ve had so far.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This is yet another example of how the LIFE team is working together to produce meaningful outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

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

A/Insp Kirby added: “I’m delighted that this new initiative has been successful in Sheffield, improving the quality of lives for those affected and their loved ones.

“The tracker not only alerts the user to whether the missing person is walking or using transport, but also whether they could be in distress or have fallen.

“It’s easy to use and can be used from someone’s mobile phone. I hope that it offers families reassurance that with these trackers we can find people more quickly.

““I’m really proud of the LIFE team, who have worked incredibly hard to bring this initiative to the city. Following the success of the trackers in Sheffield, our hope is that we will be able to obtain funding so that we can help more vulnerable people within the community and to help their families.”

Firefighters test house fire skills at unique live training exercise in Barnsley

Firefighters have been given a unique chance to put their expert skills to the test at a flame-filled live training exercise in Barnsley.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue crews were able to stage the realistic scenario thanks to Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes, who made soon-to-be-demolished properties on Baden Street in the town available for live fire and rescue training.

The scenario involved a fire being set in one of the properties and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entering the property to rescue casualties and put out the blaze.

The burns are being carried out in a safe, controlled way with every effort made to minimise disruption to local people and the environment. Several more are planned over the coming weeks.

Fire bosses say that as the number of house fires in the country continues to fall, it’s vital that crews are trained in the most authentic conditions possible so that they are ready to respond to the best of their ability should real incidents occur.

Station Manager Chris Mee, said: “This project is designed to improve operational effectiveness, firefighter safety and public safety. As the number of house fires in South Yorkshire continues to reduce, our crews are exposed to less incidents making it even more important that the training we offer them is as realistic and challenging as possible.

“It’s also an example of public agencies working together to deliver better outcomes for local people and we’re really grateful to Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes for agreeing to facilitate this rare training opportunity.”

Cllr Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place said: “We are delighted South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have been able to carry out this project to help train their crews. The safety of Barnsley’s residents is of utmost importance to us and we are always looking for opportunities to work together with partners to achieve this.”

Berneslai Homes Director of Assets, Regeneration and Construction, Stephen Davis said: “We are pleased to be co-operating with this project with the fire service for the benefit of our tenants and residents and their safety.”

Retired firefighter revisits past on Adwick fire station visit

A retired South Yorkshire firefighter has been handed a heartwarming trip down memory lane, thanks to green watch at Adwick fire station.

Eric Johnson, aged 83, from Mexborough, visited the station in Doncaster where he served as a firefighter for more than a decade between 1974 and 1985.

Eric, who is living with dementia, retired from the fire service in 1989 having first joined in 1958, also serving at Mexborough and Brampton stations during his career.

The octogenarian was accompanied on the visit by wife Ena, aged 79. He met some of the fire station’s current crew, donned fire kit and tried out a modern hose reel. He was also given a tour of the station and even managed to spot the location where his old bed would have been.

The visit was coordinated by Carole Rowland, a member of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s award-winning community safety team who met Eric and Ena at a memory cafe in Conisbrough which they regularly attend.

Ena said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day and Carole and the crew at Adwick were so kind to us. Unfortunately, Eric has developed Alzheimers, but nostalgic visits like this really help him to relive his past and it was amazing how much he remembered about his time at Adwick, including the layout of the station and even where he used to sleep.”

Dozens of fire service staff have signed up to become Dementia Friends- a Government backed initiative which teaches people a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia, and then turns that understanding into action.

Virtual reality latest weapon to cut South Yorkshire road deaths

The fire service is unleashing the latest cutting edge technology to curb road deaths in South Yorkshire, by harnessing virtual reality to switch young drivers on to common dangers.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has funded ten virtual reality headsets which will be coupled with hard hitting 360 degree videos to give road users a dramatic first-hand insight of what it’s like to be at the centre of a devastating fatal collision.

Fire service safety officers will work together with South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership to use the state-of-the-art kit at school visits and community events in the hope that the shocking footage makes young people think twice about their behaviour on the roads.

Users will wear a virtual reality headset and experience a full crash scene extrication from the arrival of the emergency services, while being talked through the process by a paramedic.

Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “We are always looking to use the latest technology to help our work to make people safer. Virtual reality offers us a unique ability to put members of the public at the heart of dramatic situations, which we hope they will never have to go through for real. By giving people a hard-hitting, realistic experience, we think we can change people’s behaviour and save lives.”

Joanne Wehrle, Safer Roads Manager at South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: “Young people are over represented in our casualty statistics and are more likely to be involved in a road traffic collision due to their inexperience and their attitudes towards risk. The Safer Roads Partnership delivers a number of interventions for young drivers and car users to raise awareness of the dangers and challenge attitudes towards road safety, in a bid to encourage safer behaviours. The use of virtual reality is an exciting development which I hope will help us to engage with more young people and instil a clear road safety message, helping to save further injuries and loss of life amongst this vulnerable group of road users.”

Factors involved in road deaths commonly include inappropriate speed, using a mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt and drink/drug driving.

The headsets won’t just be used to target young drivers- with further 360 content being developed to combat other causes of fatal collisions, such as driver fatigue.

In figures announced by the Safer Roads Partnership last month, 2016 saw 4,396 casualties arising from 3,053 collisions on the roads in South Yorkshire.

Of these, 579 people were seriously injured and 3,780 were slightly injured. Sadly, 37 people were killed.

For more road safety advice visit

Rotherham teen completes life changing youth course to make grandma proud

A brave Rotherham teen who overcame bereavement and surgery to complete a fire and police led youth course, has credited the scheme with turning his life around.

Jake Richardson, aged 18, from Maltby has just landed his dream job as a fitter with transport giants Stagecoach after completing the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, led by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police.

Jake’s stunning achievement followed a desperate few months, as he struggled to deal with the loss of his beloved grandmother who sadly passed away and a burst appendix which needed major surgery. Both events occurred whilst he was taking part in the 12-week programme which is designed to boost the life chances and employability of 16-25 year olds.

Jake said: “My life took a dramatic change at around eight years old as my stepdad, who had been in my life for most of that time, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alongside my mum being disabled, this meant I had to grow up and be more mature from a very young age.

“Caring for my parents did take my childhood away from me as I never really had many friends in school and I was always at home caring for my family. I felt isolated from a young age. We still did things as a family, but it sometimes felt like my experience wasn’t the same as everyone else’s. Not that I would change my childhood, as it has made me the young adult I am today.

“My early problems meant that I often had a short temper, which in turn made school difficult. All of my attention was on my family and not on the lessons I was in. I failed all my subjects, even though I now see what my focus should have been on. If I could go back to school and re-do everything I would.

“After I finished school my life started to get better. I went to college and studied motor vehicle service and repairs Level 2 which I passed with a merit. I planned to do level 3, but I failed my Maths and English for a second time, which really affected my confidence.

“One of my friends then got me a job in the shop where he works, but the role just consisted of stacking shelves day after day. I hated it, it wasn’t for me. But then I got a new chance with my future, all thanks to the Prince’s Trust Team Programme which I heard about through my girlfriend’s dad.

“So I came for the interview where I first met the course leader, John Daley, who gave me a tour of the fire station where it is based and explained what would be happening during the course. I knew this course would help me with my professional career.

“The Prince’s Trust course was the greatest experience of my life and it gave me more confidence and enthusiasm for learning. The course included a work placement with Stagecoach in Rawmarsh, where I carried out tasks such as servicing, changing interior lights and steam cleaning. It was easily my favourite part of the course.

“But then my entire world was ripped from underneath me as during the placement, my grandma sadly passed away.  She was my inspiration in life. Her death destroyed me and it felt like my whole world had just stopped with no warning. It knocked me back to rock bottom, my confidence was gone and I was getting ready to quit the course and just be on my own. But I decided to continue with the course to make my grandma proud. I know she would be proud of me now.

“This all followed surgery on my appendix, which had to be removed during week 5 of the course. They had burst and risked poisoning my blood. But I was determined to continue with the community project because I didn’t want to let my Princes Trust team leaders and other team members down.  So I went into hospital on the Friday and then was back with the team on the Monday.

“I am so grateful to Prince’s Trust Team Programme for allowing me to have this great opportunity, and especially to our team leaders John Daley and Rhian Oxley for everything they have done for me on the course. Without their support I never could have completed it.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Team Programme two years ago. During that time around 100 young people have benefited from the 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

The courses are based at fire stations and are the only programmes of their type in the country to be jointly delivered by fire and police services. For more information or to sign-up, email

Sprinklers save Rotherham supermarket from fire

Fire officers are repeating calls for businesses to fit sprinklers, after the devices saved a Rotherham supermarket from suffering a serious blaze.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue firefighters attended the incident at Asda Rotherham, Aldwarke Lane in July after a fryer caught fire in the cafe.

But the fire was already out when crews from Rotherham and Dearne stations arrived, there was virtually no fire or water damage and the store was quickly reopened- all thanks to sprinklers which had been fitted to suppress the fire.

Business Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “The fire suppression systems installed by Asda were sophisticated, worked effectively and completely extinguished the fire. There is no doubt that having sprinkler systems like this in place can save businesses massive amounts of time and money by limiting losses of stock and custom in the event that a fire does occur.”

Sprinklers are the most effective way of ensuring that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive. They save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire.

Currently, only commercial premises greater than 20,000m2 must have sprinkler systems installed.

SYFR adopted a position statement last year which specifically advocated the use of sprinklers and other fire suppression systems in non-domestic premises and high-risk residential settings.

For more information, visit

Fire funded projects deliver big returns for local people

Fire Authority funded community projects have helped to deliver millions of pounds worth of public savings, a major independent study has found.

Research carried out by social return on investment specialists found that projects delivered through South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Stronger Safer Reserve Fund produced nearly £5 million worth of benefits to local people.

The fund was set up by the Fire Authority to support the work of local communities to reduce blazes and other emergencies. More than 40 projects were given grants from money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

Researchers measured the impact of eight of those projects for their impact on reducing fires, plus other social, environmental and economic measures.

Projects reviewed included ‘Barnsley Babies’- a scheme which sees midwives deliver fire safety and other healthy living advice to pregnant women in the borough.

The ‘Dementia Fire and Home Safety Project’ saw coordinators in each of South Yorkshire’s four districts promote fire safety to a range of organisations working with people living with dementia and their carers.

‘Safety Circles’ saw the fire service work with Rotherham charity SpeakUp to help people with learning difficulties to live more independent lives, by improving their understanding of issues like kitchen fire safety, escape routes and what to do in an emergency.

Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “Our community safety staff have worked closely with charities and community groups to make sure money granted to them to support our work makes a clear and measurable impact. Our work to make local people safer is well established, but we believe that by continuing to work with other agencies, we can make further reductions in fires, deaths and injuries.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “The Authority believes that charities, community organisations and other local groups can play an important part in supporting the work of the fire service to make our communities safer and stronger. Members are rightly pleased that the investment we have made in our communities has been proven to be delivering real and far-reaching benefits for local people.”

Ivan Annibal, from Rose Regeneration and Rocket Science who led the research, said: “We were very pleased with the outcomes of this research. They demonstrate that the fund has built local capacity for the longer term through its grants. Using our Social Value Engine which provides a comprehensive assessment of the value of a whole range of social outcomes we were able to work with the team managing the fund to identify its achievements in the round. They have been very impressive indeed.”

Applications will soon open for the third round the fund. The maximum amount of money available for each project is £100,000 and the minimum amount is £5,000. Projects should run for up to two years.

The latest funding will be allocated for projects which meet specific criteria, which include tackling water safety, arson and road traffic collisions. Other key priorities include working with those with mental health issues, people from excluded groups including BAME and faith communities and health and social care issues.

For more information email or visit

View the full SSCR evaluation report

Fire service backs Sheffield Pride

This year’s Sheffield Pride event was well attended by staff from across the fire service.

We held a safety stall and handed out careers information at the main event in Endcliffe Park and also took part in the parade up Ecclesall Road.

The fire service takes an active part in LGBT events to promote its services, as there can be significant fire and community safety risks for LGBT people, which are often not understood. Fire safety risks are linked to older LGBT older people, drug and alcohol use, people with mental health needs, those experiencing social isolation and fire related Hate Crime.

Engagement with LGBT communities helps us to promote fire safety and encourage LGBT people to engage with us in the delivery of services and as a supportive and inclusive employer.