Fire service ‘chip pan’ campaign wins trio of national awards

A chart topping bid by firefighters has won a hat trick of national campaign awards.

Central red watch and 999 operators at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue were part of a daring drive to reach the top of the Christmas charts with ‘Chip Pan’ by the Everly Pregnant Brothers.

The song was used as part of a wider campaign to cut house fires over Christmas and won the ‘Best Low Budget Campaign’, ‘Best Video’ and ‘Best Creative Communication’ gongs at the Comms2Point0 Unawards, a respected event celebrating the best in public sector communication. It’s the first time any organisation has picked up three awards at the event.

Although the track didn’t reach last year’s festive song summit, it helped raise awareness of kitchen fire safety amongst millions of people. The associated campaign contributed to an 18 per cent drop in house fires last December and raised £4,311 for two charities- Age UK Sheffield and Shelter.

Highlights of the assault on the yuletide music chart included two national television appearances and more than five million views online for a video which accompanies the song. Leaders, businesses and celebrities from across Sheffield also threw in their support for the campaign.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Both our staff and the South Yorkshire public really got behind this campaign. Although it was a bit of fun, albeit with a serious safety message at its heart, it raised such a lot of money for two great causes and also contributed to our biggest objective- making people safer by reducing house fires. I’m really pleased that this hard work has again been recognised at a national level.”

Earlier this year the campaign was also recognised at both the Public Sector Communication and Government Communication Service awards.

Ground-breaking regional emergency and health service collaboration to improve quality of life in communities

Emergency services from the four corners of Yorkshire and the Humber, along with NHS England and Public Health England, have pledged to work even closer together for the benefit of the health and well-being of people across the region.

Launched today (Tuesday 21 November 2017), the Yorkshire and Humber Emergency Services Prevention and Early Intervention Consensus Statement has been co-ordinated by Public Health England.

Police, ambulance and fire and rescue services share a long history of effective collaborative working and the signing of a consensus to extend this partnership approach is the first regional agreement in the country.

With demand for health and social care rising, the main focus of the services is to use their joint intelligence and skills to support communities with ill-health prevention and early intervention where problems are identified.

This includes greater sharing and development of referral pathways into key services such as falls prevention and support for mental health, alcohol and drug problems, advice to keep homes warm and social support to combat loneliness and isolation.

The Yorkshire and Humber Emergency Services Prevention and Early Intervention Consensus involves

  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  • Humberside Fire & Rescue Service
  • Humberside Police
  • Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner
  • North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
  • North Yorkshire Police
  • North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
  • South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
  • South Yorkshire Police
  • South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
  • West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
  • West Yorkshire Police
  • West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
  • British Transport Police
  • NHS England
  • Public Health England Yorkshire & Humber

Emergency services’ staff come into contact with vulnerable people every day and see health inequalities and social challenges first-hand. By tackling these risks jointly and more effectively, the main aim is to improve the quality of life for individuals and ultimately reduce demand on the busy emergency services.

In South Yorkshire, firefighters gain access to properties at incidents where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them, for example when they are locked indoors. The work used to be carried out by police officers, so is helping to save thousands of hours of police time each year.

Fire service staff deliver falls, crime and healthy aging advice to older people in Doncaster, after a new programme of ‘safe and well’ visits was launched last year. This work will soon be extended to Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield.

More than 50 people have also been referred for life changing eyesight support under a successful partnership with charities for the blind. The referrals were made thanks to ‘Optimeyes’- a two year partnership between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

SYFR Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “In the last decade, the fire service has helped to make South Yorkshire safer than it has been at any time in its history in terms of house fires. But we believe we can play a much wider role in terms of tackling some of the big health challenges our country faces in the future.

“This consensus statement is the perfect illustration of that aspiration, where we use the coordinated efforts and expertise of emergency services in our region to improve the lives of vulnerable groups through targeted early intervention activity.”

Rod Barnes, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said:This is a great opportunity to work together even more closely and deliver greater support to the most vulnerable members of our communities. By coordinating our efforts we stand a better chance of addressing widespread health and wellbeing problems and improving the quality of people’s lives.”

Firefighters praise impact of unique live training exercise in Barnsley

Firefighters have hailed the impact a first-of-its-kind training opportunity which saw them test their expert skills at a flame-filled live exercise in Barnsley.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue crews were able to stage a series of 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 scenarios all 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 were carried out in a safe, controlled way with every effort made to minimise disruption to local people and the environment.

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 was 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 these rare training opportunity. We now hope that other local partners will work with us to provide similar training opportunities.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “As both a Barnsley councillor and chair of the Fire Authority, I am proud of the way in which local partners have come together to support the work of the fire service. Firefighters do a vital job and are hugely valued by the public, so it is only right that we work together to provide them with appropriate training opportunities such as these.”

Berneslai Homes Director of Assets, Regeneration and Construction, Stephen Davis said: “We were pleased to have co-operated with this project with the fire service for the benefit of our tenants and residents and their safety and it’s been a great success.”

South Yorkshire firefighter who saved life of football fan honoured at city hotel event

An off-duty South Yorkshire firefighter who helped to save the life of a football fan has been honoured at a special event in Sheffield.

Caz Whiteman, a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) firefighter currently based on green watch at Rotherham fire station, was in the crowd for the match at Leicester’s Champions League clash against Sevilla at King Power Stadium earlier this year when a fellow spectator collapsed with a suspected heart attack.

Caz, who was sat nearby, immediately rushed to support pitch side first aiders and deliver cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for more than 15 minutes until he was taken to hospital by ambulance. The man, Jim Blockley, has since made a full recovery.

Caz said at the time: “My seats were just three rows from the front of the pitch and just as the teams were starting to come out for the second half, I noticed that a spectator was in difficulty. I came down to the front of the pitch to see what I could do to help and it became clear he had suffered a heart attack and gone into cardiac arrest. Along with the pitch side medics, I cleared his airway and immediately performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.

“This is where the skills I’ve picked up from my day job really came into their own. Firefighters already have the skills and knowledge to provide effective first responder care in emergency situations, particularly at incidents were we may arrive on scene before paramedics. My actions were a natural, instinctive reaction to the situation in front of me. Anyone with the right skills and training would have done the same thing. I’m just so relieved that Jim has made it.”

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson, said: “It’s extremely fitting the Caz’s actions that night have been recognised locally. It was particularly touching to meet Jim and his family and to hear first hand how overwhelmed they were by what Caz had done for him.

“Her brilliant quick thinking and life saving actions really did go above and beyond the call of duty and highlight that, in some ways, a firefighter is never ‘off duty’. The skills and training we give our crews stay with them for life, which this inspiring, life saving story confirms.”

Caz was presented with a certificate and reunited with Jim and his family at the ‘Local Heroes’ event at the St Paul’s Mercure Hotel in Sheffield, which was arranged to recognise the achievements of emergency service workers as well as the contributions of local charity volunteers.

Firefighters test response to tram train emergency with realistic live exercise

Firefighters have been put through their paces testing their response to an incident involving one of the new Citylink trams that hit the region’s transport network earlier this year.

Crews from Parkway, Lowedges, Central and Birley Moor fire stations all attended ‘Exercise Escape’, which tested South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s operational response to a potential incident on Sheffield’s tram network.

The 45-minute scenario involved a Citylink tram colliding with a scooter resulting in a casualty becoming trapped underneath. Fire cadets from the service’s Birley Moor branch also acted as casualties.

Stagecoach Supertram staff and South Yorkshire Police officers took part, so that fire officers could practice effective multi-agency working.

Station Manager Alastair Forster, said: “Our firefighters are ready to respond to a huge number of different incident types, from fires to road traffic collisions. We issue lots of guidance to our crews about the different sorts of scenarios they might come across in the line of duty, but really the best way of preparing our response is to test it out for real.

“We’re extremely grateful to Stagecoach Supertram for making the exercise as realistic as possible and providing some vital technical input on the day.

Katie Arthur, Head of Safety for Stagecoach Supertram said: “The safety of our passengers and other road users is our number one priority, which is why it is so important for us to take part in training exercises like these. By observing how the emergency services deal with incidents and through working closely with them, we can make sure we’re in the best possible position to deal professionally and appropriately should they occur in real life.”

South Yorkshire’s new Citylink vehicles were introduced in the regular Supertram timetable from October to support the existing tram service across the network. The new tram train route from Sheffield to Rotherham is expected to open in 2018, once rail infrastructure work, testing and driver training is complete. The Citylink vehicles will then be used across the route.

The Tram Train pilot will help the rail industry understand and assess the technical issues involved with planning and operating a Tram Train service. It will be the first time a Tram Train system has operated in the UK. The new service is unique because it links heavy and light rail infrastructure, systems and operations together to provide a new transport service between Sheffield and Rotherham. The vehicles are designed to run on both the Stagecoach Supertram system and the national rail network.

The Tram Train pilot will run for two years during which customer satisfaction, passenger numbers, reliability and costs are measured.  After this pilot period, Tram Train will continue to run as a local service.

Fire service highlights community impact after South Yorkshire man’s life turned around

The story of a South Yorkshire man whose life was transformed by safety staff is being used to highlight the fire service’s positive impact on the county’s high risk residents.

Fire officers say the work of their firefighters and community safety teams goes much further than preventing house blazes and that, in many cases, no other agency is better at putting vulnerable residents in touch with the support they need.

The resident whose story they are highlighting was referred for extra support after safety staff visited his home to fit smoke alarms, and noticed that he needed help from a range of other agencies.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Community Safety Manager Amanda Thompson, said: “A housing provider made a referral for a man called John* to receive a home safety check, whereby fire service staff visit someone’s home to talk to them about preventing emergencies and to fit free smoke alarms where needed. The fire service staff who visited immediately raised concerns about the John’s living conditions.

“Following the initial home safety visit, arrangements were made to carry out a joint visit with a housing officer after several failed attempts to gain access to the property. The resident would not engage with the housing officer, however he did allow our community safety officers to enter some of the rooms, albeit reluctantly.

“Our staff found the property to be in a filthy state. The house was cold and damp and the resident said he could not afford to put the heating on and did not have any hot meals- just cold sandwiches. He had limited mobility and had a mobility scooter, but he had to lift this over the threshold and up and down two external steps. Our staff also learned that John used a colostomy bag and his clothes were also very dirty. He was also known to be alcohol dependent.

“As a result of our visit, an urgent call was made to a care team and for a full needs assessment. By building up a relationship with John, our staff pushed for him to access a number of other services which he might not otherwise have accessed.

“Those services included housing repairs and a deep clean of the property and access to a specialist social worker who reviewed John’s finances, meaning that he could heat his home.

“We also provided ‘hot pack’ meals, arranged for a delivery from a local food bank, worked with a local charity to provide extra clothing, located a new microwave and kettle and provided a ‘warm pack’ containing blankets, soups, thermal hand warmers, gloves and socks.

“John’s progress is being monitored by a social worker together with follow up visits by fire service staff and a housing officer. John is now much more receptive to engaging with services and his general health and well being and living conditions improved as a result of our intervention.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue visits more than 20,000 homes every year to fit smoke alarms and provide safety advice. This includes hundreds of repeat visits to people who have been identified as being particularly high risk.

For more information about organisations signing up to become referral partners with the fire service, visit www.syfire.gov.uk/ safe-well

Praise for firefighters who rescued dogs from Doncaster house blaze

Firefighters have been praised for rescuing two lucky dogs from a smoke filled house in Doncaster.

The fortunate four pawed friends were home alone in the kitchen of the house on Princess Street, Woodlands on Thursday (16 November) when the cooker ignited at around 4.30pm. Firefighters think that laundry left on the hob could have started the blaze.

The fire was discovered when the dogs’ owner returned home having taken her young son to a hospital appointment in Sheffield. On seeing her house filled with smoke, she did the right thing and immediately dialled 999.

Adwick, Doncaster and Edlington blue watch firefighters rushed to the scene and entered the property wearing breathing apparatus to rescue the stricken pooches.

The canines- a six-month-old cock-a-poo called Ebony and a two-year-old jack-a-poo named Jet- were both found in a side room within the kitchen.

Despite thick black smoke billowing round the room a vet check later found that they were both healthy, although Jet had suffered some scorched fur as the high temperatures from the blaze heated the metal clasps on his collar.

Unfortunately, there was significant damage to the cooker, kitchen wall and surrounding appliances. The rest of the house was also badly smoke logged.

Firefighters returned the next day to meet the dogs and their owner.

Watch Manager John Cox said: “Blue watch firefighters did a brilliant job using breathing apparatus to find the pets, bring them to safety and put out the fire- all in a matter of minutes. This was a serious fire which caused significant damage, but it was great to return to the property to meet the dogs and their owner properly in calmer circumstances and we’re really pleased that they both appear to be doing ok.”

Owner Shaleen Ross said: “I just want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to the firefighters who did an absolutely amazing job rescuing my dogs who I love so much. They worked so quickly and no words can say how grateful I am. The 999 control operator also did a brilliant job to keep me calm on the phone and I just think that everyone at the fire service does such a wonderful job.”

It’s thought that smoke alarms had been sounding for over an hour, but no one raised the alarm until Shaleen returned home.

Update on round 3 of Fire Authority funding

Work has been taking place around round three of the Fire Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

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.

The timeline for the allocation of the funding is as follows:

Stage 1             Complete 29 September

Applicants submitted an Expression of Interest detailing the proposal for their project. We received a total of 48 applications into Round 3 of the fund.

Stage 2             Complete 10 November

Applications initially went through 2 days of officer review and sift. Projects were assessed in line with the assessment process provided within the information packs. The scoring matrix and information was then provided to the Assessment Board on the 10th November for evaluation, selection, and recommendations to the full Fire Authority.

Stage 3

Recommendations will be made to the Fire Authority for approval. This is expected to take place on the 27 November.

Stage 4

Successful projects will be notified during the week commencing 27 November and invited to an Induction Day with SYFR during December. Date currently scheduled for the 11 December.

Stage 5

Successful projects start 8 January 2018.

For more information email ttranter@syfire.gov.uk.

Fire funding for South Yorkshire sprinkler schemes

Five housing schemes across South Yorkshire will be fitted with sprinklers, thanks to Fire Authority funding.

The schemes have all benefitted from money made available earlier this year from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve Fund.

Charities and social housing organisations were invited to bid for the money which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves to support sprinkler projects on a match funded basis.

Fire safety officers hope the schemes will encourage more housing providers to consider installing sprinklers in the homes of homes of residents considered particularly at risk of fire.

The five funded schemes are:

  • Autism Plus, Thorne- a 15 bedroom residential care facility
  • Berneslai Homes, Barnsley- six independent living schemes
  • Great Places, Rotherham- a 24 flat complex
  • South Yorkshire Housing Association, Rotherham- five bungalows for high-dependency residents
  • Target Housing, Rotherham- four bedroom converted care facility

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making homes safer – they stop fires from spreading, put them out quickly and save lives. We are especially concerned about those people who are most at risk of fire such as those with mobility or mental health problems or people with dementia who may not know how to react, or be able to react quickly enough, if they hear a smoke alarm.

“We play a key leadership role in helping people to better understand the benefits of sprinklers as part our commitment to reduce the impact of fire on people, property and the environment and this funding is the best possible evidence of our commitment to that goal.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “The Authority believes that its resources can play an important role in building safer, stronger communities and this funding is one example of how we are achieving this. Member hope this investment will encourage other housing providers to consider installing these potentially life saving devices in the homes of higher-risk residents.”

SYFR has pioneered the use of sprinklers in high risk residential settings, leading a UK first project to retrofit an automated system at the Callow Mount block of flats in Gleadless. That scheme is now internationally recognised for the improved safety it offers the people living within the building.

It has also worked alongside Sheffield City Council to make more than 540 properties in the city safer by installing lifesaving sprinkler systems at council owned flats in Gleadless Valley, Westfield, Stannington and Netherthorpe. This project was another UK first.

The installation of sprinkler systems in new build homes is now mandatory in Wales and SYFR is actively promoting the use of this type of protection in all types of buildings to build resilience and safety into local communities.

Click here for more information on sprinkler systems

Attack on firefighters in Sheffield condemned

Fire officers have reacted angrily to reports that their crews were attacked at an incident in Sheffield on Sunday (5 November).

Firefighters from Central fire station were responding to reports of fires which had been deliberately set near Grimesthorpe Road South, Grimesthorpe at around 9.30pm.

Whilst tackling the blazes, objects were thrown at the fire engine and crew. No firefighters were injured, but the window of one of the fire engines was damaged, making the vehicle unavailable to attend further emergencies.

Firefighters withdrew until police arrived, before continuing to extinguish the fires.

Area Manager Tony Carlin at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue said; “We are absolutely appalled that our firefighters appear to have been targeted in this way.

“Attacks like this place the safety of our firefighters, and the people they are trying to protect, at risk. Thankfully, this type of incident is extremely rare in South Yorkshire and it is only a tiny minority of people who would ever consider acting in such an irresponsible and dangerous way.

“However, even one attack on a firefighter is completely unacceptable – and we will work alongside the police to fully investigate any attacks and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

If you have any information about this attack please call 101, quoting police incident number 1221 (5 November).