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

Fire service sprinklers warning as funding scheme launched

Fire officers are calling on South Yorkshire’s housing providers to install sprinklers to help protect vulnerable residents from fire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) attends dozens of serious house fires every year in social housing and sheltered accommodation.

To help tackle the problem and increase the number of sprinkler systems fitted across the county, the fire service has announced a  £1 million fund to encourage more housing providers to install them in buildings lived in by those residents most at risk from fire.

Dozens of delegates attended an event in Sheffield this week which launched the fund and explained to businesses, charities and social housing landlords the benefits of this potentially lifesaving fire safety equipment.

Head of prevention and protection 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.”

SYFR is one of the leading fire services in the country for its pioneering 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.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund is open to any social  or private housing provider. It will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.  It forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

The funding application form can be downloaded here. The deadline for applications is 10 March.

Beware of magazine advertising scam

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is warning businesses to be aware of a scam in which rogue publishers are offering advertising space in a publication they claim they are producing on behalf of the fire service.

The rogue publishers make unsolicited telephone calls to businesses, in particular small businesses, doctors’ surgeries and dental practices offering advertising space in a magazine they claim is produced by the fire service.

The cost of the ‘advert’ can range from £50 to anything up to £1000. However, once you have paid you’ll find the publication either doesn’t exist or only a handful of copies are printed. Generally, if the call is bogus, the caller will only provide a PO box address and the phone number will be blocked.

If you receive an unsolicited call from a publishing company:

  • Don’t agree to anything until you are given full details of the publishing company and what you will get for your money
  • Ask to see terms and conditions before agreeing anything
  • Read all small print of any contract carefully
  • Establish how many copies are being published, where they will be distributed and how, and where can you get hold of a copy
  • If you are told that someone from your company has already verbally agreed to place an advert get full details of who and when, and check with the member of staff before agreeing anything further
  • Ask which other companies in your area have taken advertising space and contact them to see if the caller is genuine
  • If you receive a demand for payment, which could be over the phone or via an ‘invoice’ respond to the demand stating why you do not owe any money

Businesses which may have been contacted in this way should report any details they may have to Action Fraud.

Firefighters thank public for number one bid support

Firefighters have thanked the people of South Yorkshire for their support with a campaign to reach Christmas number one.

Central red watch and 999 operators were part of the drive to reach the festive song summit with ‘Chip Pan’ by the Everly Pregnant Brothers.

Thousands of people have downloaded the track and, although it’s unlikely to reach the top spot when the official chart is released later on Friday, the campaign has helped raise awareness of kitchen fire safety and firefighters on duty over Christmas amongst millions of people.

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.

It’s thought that sales of the track will have also raised thousands of pounds for Shelter and Age UK Sheffield, once official download figures are collated.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “This campaign was clearly a bit of festive fun, but with chip pans still responsible for large numbers of house fires every year, we think it’s important to raise awareness of important safety messages in different ways.

“We also wanted to remind people that across the UK thousands of firefighters and 999 operators- not to mention many more of their colleagues in the emergency services- will be on duty this Christmas keeping people safe.

“None of it would have been possible without the work of firefighters at Central fire station or the Everly Pregnant Brothers. But we also want to thank people locally for really getting behind the campaign in a big way.”

For more information on preventing fires, visit www.syfire.gov.uk