South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

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South Yorkshire’s fire service first to test connectivity from control room to new national network

South Yorkshire’s fire service has become the first in the country to test the connectivity from its control room to a new national network which will transform the way emergency services operate.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is a lead organisation for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) critical communications system and worked with the Home Office on approval for its Systel mobilising system- the software it uses to send fire engines to emergencies- to connect to the new network.

This achievement represents big progress for the cross-government programme, which will replace the current Airwave service which firefighters and other 999 workers use to communicate with each other at emergencies.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM, said: “We’re proud to be playing a leading role in supporting the roll out of the biggest transformation in emergency services communication in a generation. Our position as a lead organisation for the technology within the fire and rescue service confirms the skill and expertise of our ICT and Control room staff, as well as the resilience and security of our systems.”

ESN will transmit fast, safe and secure voice, video and data across the 4G network and give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.

Around 300,000 frontline emergency service users will depend on ESN, using handheld devices or operating equipment in 45,000 vehicles, 66 aircraft and more than 100 control rooms.

David Topping, Control Rooms Technical Lead for the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, said: “We are pleased to have worked effectively with our colleagues in South Yorkshire’s  fire service to reach this point. We all look forward to demonstrating the capability of ESN integrated with the Systel mobilising system over the coming months.”

Investment in ESN will also mean improvements to 4G network coverage, which will enable 999 calls to be made from mobile phones in some of the most remote and rural parts of Great Britain.

ESN’s high-speed mobile technology will mean communication between the emergency services will take priority over all other network traffic, even at peak times in busy urban locations. It will mean the emergency services and other first responders can share vital data, information and expertise quickly and securely from the frontline when it is needed most.

It will give the emergency services access to the latest mobile communications products and applications as soon as they come on stream. They will be able to choose what meets their unique operational requirements from the tools and technologies available.

The software that ESN runs on is being provided by Motorola Solutions and the infrastructure is being built by EE, including deploying more 4G masts in rural areas.

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National award for fire service’s response to Hatfield Moors blaze

South Yorkshire’s fire service has won a national award for its response to a major wildfire, which crews spent 22 days tackling last year.

The fire affected a huge area of rare peat moorland, which is a site of special scientific interest and home to several rare species of animal and plants.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue won the Incident Management Award at CIR Magazine’s Business Continuity Awards 2021 for its work to coordinate the response to the incident, which involved 403 fire appliance movements across 523 hours in May and June 2020.

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson, said: “Responding to large scale incidents such as this isn’t simply about the work of our fantastic firefighters on the ground. It’s also about the coordination of activity behind the scenes, the implementation of plans for managing an incidents of this size and collaboration with our partners, including the local authority and Natural England. This award is fitting recognition for all of the efforts which went into managing the incident.

“Even during the early stages of the pandemic, our frontline crews remained ready, willing and able to respond to every 999 call they received- including major fires such as this one. Our response to this blaze right at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic is therefore also testament to the control measures we had in place and the diligence of our staff in following them.”

At the same awards, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Emergency Planning Officer Russ Parramore won the Adviser of the Year Award for his work with the National Fire Chief’s Council’s business continuity committee.

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Fire service shortlisted for major national diversity award

South Yorkshire’s fire service is up for a major national award celebrating its work with diverse communities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has been shortlisted in the ‘diverse company’ category at this year’s National Diversity Awards.

The service has been shortlisted for its work to train and empower staff, promote inclusive recruitment processes and involve diverse communities in its work.

The nomination pitches SYFR up against seven other organisations from across the public and private sectors.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “Not only is inclusion now more visibly a strategic priority at board level, it is also translating to real results on the ground.

“Reinvigorated staff networks, fairer promotion processes, universal training, better recruitment practices and braver communication are all tangible examples of how- in a sector which has traditionally struggled to modernise- we are pushing the boundaries, improving our diversity and becoming a great place to work where people can truly be themselves.”

The National Diversity Awards seek to celebrate the excellent achievements of grass- root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society.

Marcus Rashford, Rebecca Ferguson and Ashley Banjo are amongst those shortlisted in the ‘celebrity of the year’ category.

The winners will be announced at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on February 4, 2022.

You can find out more at https://nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/

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Six in Sheffield graduate from fire and police youth programme

Six young people have successfully graduated from a fire and police development programme, after youth engagement work got back underway with a bang after long months of lockdown.

The group- all aged 16 to 25 years old – took part in a life enhancing 12 week personal development course known as Prince’s Trust Team Programme.

The South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police led initiative offers work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community work and a residential week to young people not in employment, education or training.

The young people were all thrown out of their comfort zone, with highlights including a mammoth trek to a World War Two aircraft wreck in the Peak District and a community initiative which saw them transform a children’s playground.

SYFR Team Programme Leader John Daley said; “Young people have had it tough over the last year- their education has been disrupted, employment opportunities have been put on hold and socialising has been made difficult by the restrictions we’ve all been living under. But this group have come together brilliantly and should feel extremely proud of everything they have achieved.

“Although we’ve done our best to keep our youth engagement work going during the pandemic, this has obviously been limited, so it feels fantastic to be able to come together with the young people and their families to celebrate their achievements at an event such as this.”

The graduation which was held at the Niagara Centre in Sheffield and was a great celebration of all their hard work and efforts. It was attended by their friends and family as well as local dignitaries, including the Vice Lord Lieutenant John Holt and Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Gail Smith.

More than 250 young people have been through the South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Prince’s Trust Team Programme in four years. Four out of every five go on to achieve a successful outcome, be it entering employment, education or training.

To be part of the next programme, email princestrust@syfire.gov.uk

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Fire service public events back on following lockdown lifting

The fire service has marked the lifting of coronavirus restrictions by attending its first public safety event in months.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue firefighters and safety officers were amongst those who attended a family fun day at Shirecliffe Heliport- with the event doubling up as a charity fundraiser.

A fire engine and chip pan display unit- which educates people about the dangers of pouring water onto hot oil – were also there, alongside vehicles and staff from other emergency services.

Community Safety Team Leader Amanda Thompson, said: “The fire service is best known for the work our brilliant frontline crews do responding to 999 calls. Equally important though is our work to educate the public- either by visiting their homes or at community events such as this one.

“We’ve had to adapt our community work significantly over the last 18 months or so and whilst we’re proud of the work we’ve continued to deliver throughout the pandemic, it still feels good to be back in the community and talking to people at events like this one about preventing fires and other emergencies.”

The well attended event in Parkwood Springs coincided with Eid and also helped to raise money for Cash For Kids, which supports children and young people affected by poverty, abuse, neglect, life-limiting illness and those who have additional needs.

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Fire service pandemic volunteer coordinators celebrate Cutler’s award win

A team at the heart of coordinating fire service volunteers who supported South Yorkshire’s pandemic response have been honoured with a special award.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s three-strong ‘volunteers cell’ oversaw the work of 200 fire service staff who volunteered to fulfil multiple requests for support from partner agencies as they strived to keep essential services running during the first stages of the pandemic.

Those tasks included making food and prescription deliveries, training to drive ambulances, fitting face masks for care staff and distributing PPE to health workers.

Now the team behind the work has been given the prestigious team award at the Cutlers’ Company Police and Fire Service annual awards in recognition of their exemplary service.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM, said: “Many of the requests from partners, raised via South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum, were extremely urgent, meaning that the cell had to work quickly, flexibly and often during unsociable hours to make sure the right volunteers were available to fulfil them.

“The cell also had to liaise with external partners across the country to establish safe systems of work, to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our volunteers whilst carrying out additional duties.

“All of the work of the volunteers cell was delivered remotely, with staff using video conferencing and email to deliver this work.

“In short, we are proud of the work we did to help our communities during the pandemic, but none of it could have been delivered without the work of the small, dedicated group of people who made up our volunteers cell.”

At the same event, Watch Manager Fleur Holland QFSM won the individual award after used her role within the service’s community safety team to help coordinate the delivery of hundreds of food parcels and thousands of prescriptions to people with no other means of support.

Acutely aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the mental health younger people, she also used her role as one of the service’s youth engagement leads to organise a fundraising challenge for the service’s fire cadets.

Emergency Planning Assistant Liz Bramley and Community Safety Co-ordinator Claire Walsh were the others nominated for the individual awards.

The service’s ICT team and Covid-19 volunteers were the others nominated for the team award.

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Residents reassured as inspection of high rise residential buildings continues

High-rise buildings on an inspection list are not inherently unsafe say fire officers, as they report good progress in their mission to visit every high rise residential block in South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) has today published the list of high-rise residential buildings forming part of its ‘Building Risk Review’ project.

The list includes buildings identified by central government plus extra buildings identified by the SYFR- which made the decision to include all buildings of six storeys and over.

Buildings are on the list because of their height- not because they are automatically deemed unsafe.

The ambitious, government-funded project tasked fire and rescue services with returning information on all high rise residential buildings by the end of this year. A dedicated team of fire safety inspectors was set up to complete the work in South Yorkshire.

From an original list of around 300 buildings, there are now less than 70 left for them to inspect as part of this work.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, said: “It’s really important for residents to understand that this list does not mean that those buildings are inherently unsafe- just that we want to ensure we have accurate, up-to-date information on these buildings and are able to provide this information to government.  .

“Like all fire and rescue services, the government issued us with a list of high rise residential buildings for which they have requested further information on. Having cross referenced this list with our own local information, the list of buildings we are inspecting as part of this work has grown to beyond those which are simply over 18 metres high. This is because we want to be really clear about what is and isn’t in scope and be as thorough as we can possibly be.

“We have invested in a dedicated inspection team to complete this work and intend to complete it as quickly and as thoroughly as we can, to ensure the ongoing safety of residents in South Yorkshire. We are well on course to have completed this work before the end of December 2021.”

“We hope this work will provide reassurance to residents in the wake of the initial findings of the Grenfell inquiry and illustrates resident safety remains our priority. Where we identify an issue with a building, we will then work with building owners and managers to ensure any necessary work is carried out.”

Fire safety inspecting officers not directly involved in this project will continue to inspect other buildings across South Yorkshire regardless of height in accordance with their risk based audit programme.

More information about the Building Risk Review project can be found here

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Fire service launches business safety recruitment drive

A massive fire service recruitment drive aims to boost its work enforcing safety laws.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has today (Wednesday 7 July) launched a major new campaign calling on people to consider a role within its business fire safety team.

The team is responsible for everything from inspecting businesses and licensing fireworks retailers, to checking high-rise buildings – work which has increased significantly following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, said: “Our frontline fire crews rightly get praise for the brilliant job they do responding to 999 calls, but our business fire safety officers play just as an important role in terms of making sure businesses and other premises are complying with safety laws designed to keep people safe.

“We’re looking for people with a hunger to learn and a desire to make a difference to put themselves forward for a team which ultimately saves lives.”

The service is currently advertising for positions as business fire safety advisors – with further vacancies expected to follow.

For more information, click here

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South Yorkshire firefighters to carry ‘smoke hoods’ to aid escapes

Firefighters in South Yorkshire have started carrying fire escape hoods to protect members of the public from toxic smoke at fires.

The smoke hoods provide members of the public with up to 15 minutes protection from four of the main fire gases (carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride and acrolein) and can be worn by conscious or unconscious people. If more than 15 minutes protection is required then another hood can be given to each wearer.

They do not provide oxygen, but temporarily filter toxic smoke to make breathing easier. Firefighters will be able to offer people a hood to wear whilst they are being rescued and they will also be used to protect those who aren’t able to escape easily, such as the elderly or wheelchair users.

Head of Emergency Response Andy Strelczenie, said: “Smoke from fires is extremely toxic and just a few breaths can render you unconscious. These hoods filter out the most dangerous gases.

“These hoods will also provide firefighters with vital extra time to consider their priorities and plan the safest exit route, as opposed to simply getting people out as quickly as possible.

“Fire crews have been trained in their use and we think the money we’ve spent on them is a relatively small price to pay for something which has the potential to save someone’s life.”

More than 100 of the hoods have been bought, under a National Fire Chief’s Council procurement framework.

Smoke hoods are amongst the innovations fire and rescue services were recommended to adopt following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

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Three South Yorkshire fire service staff named in national honours list

Three fire and rescue staff from South Yorkshire are named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.

Control room operator Jess Grayson has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

She was named a BEM for services to mental health, having used her own mental health experiences to spearhead attempts to tackle the wellbeing issues firefighters and other emergency services workers face.

Alongside her day-to-day duties in the control room Jess, a Watch Manager, also trained resilience staff brought in to support the service’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fleur Holland and Alex Johnson are the other members of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue staff to have received honours, each being named recipients of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

During the pandemic, Watch Manager Fleur used her role within the service’s community safety team to help coordinate the delivery of hundreds of food parcels and thousands of prescriptions to people with no other means of support.

Acutely aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the mental health younger people, she also used her role as one of the service’s youth engagement leads to organise a fundraising challenge for the service’s fire cadets. This was as a way of getting the young cadets, some of whom come from vulnerable backgrounds, to channel their physical and mental energy into something positive. The ‘999 challenge’ she inspired was adopted by fire cadets branches nationally and has raised more than £6,000 for The Fire Fighter’s Charity.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson has led the county’s fire and rescue service throughout the pandemic, after becoming South Yorkshire’s first female Chief Fire Officer in 2020.

She joined joined Derbyshire Fire & Rescue as a firefighter in 1992, serving at stations across the county during a successful career in which she rose to the rank of Area Manager. She joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017 as Assistant Chief Fire Officer, before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer and then Chief Fire Officer.

For many years, Alex has been a member of the Executive Committee of Women in the Fire Service, a national network which supports the development of women in the fire sector. In 2019 she was named the ‘most influential woman in fire’ by FIRE magazine.

Outstanding men and women from fire and rescue services right across the United Kingdom are nominated to receive national honours each year, although only a tiny proportion of those nominations are successful.

For more information on the honours system, visit the government website here.

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