South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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South Yorkshire firefighters back brave Molly’s bid to raise charity cash

South Yorkshire firefighters are supporting a brave Sheffield girl’s bid to raise vital cash for the charity which supported her care.

Molly Williams, aged 9, was born with a rare form of motor neurone disease, meaning she will never walk or stand without support.

But now Molly and her sister Anya and brother Edmund have spent time training with firefighters at Parkway fire station as she gears up to complete 84 laps of an athletics track- a lap for every night she’s spent in critical care.

Group Manager Paul Bragger, said: “When we heard about Molly’s incredible fundraising challenge, our firefighters were only too happy to meet Molly and her family to help her prepare.

“Our crews have been so inspired by her story, they are planning a string of their own events in support of her fundraising efforts, including 100 climbs of our 32 metre turntable ladder- which is no mean feat!”

Full-time wheelchair user Molly has already undergone two, 10 hour surgeries at Sheffield Children’s Hospital during her short life- straightening her spine with rods and reconstructing both her hips. Sometimes she needs a special mask to breathe.

The Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) charity has supported her by providing specialist equipment to improve her quality of life- which is what’s prompted Molly and her family to launch their fundraising challenge.

Molly’s former RAF mechanic dad Julian is running and walking 100 miles in one mammoth 24 hour session.

Meanwhile Molly, mum May, sister Anya and brother Edmund will complete 84 laps of a 220 metre indoor athletics track on her duet tandem wheelchair bicycle.

The challenge takes place on 28 and 29 May at the English Institute of Sport and Olympic Legacy Park, Sheffield.

For more information or to donate, visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/100miles4molly

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Sprinklers put out fire at Doncaster tower block

Sprinklers extinguished a fire in a high-rise block of flats in Doncaster.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue attended a fire at Hatfield House, Balby Bridge just before midday on Tuesday (26 April) caused by hair straighteners setting fire to some bedding.

The occupant was able to evacuate safely and the fire was already out when firefighters arrived on the scene, thanks to sprinklers which had been fitted throughout the building.

Fire officers say the incident again highlights the value of fire sprinklers fitted in high-rise, residential buildings.

Area Manager Cath Toovey, said: “Fire Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making high-rise, residential dwellings safer – they stop fires from spreading, put them out quickly, save lives and have a long working life span. We’re proud of the reputation we’ve built nationally as a leading fire and rescue service for our long standing advocacy of the benefits of fire sprinklers. It’s pleasing to see that not only are housing providers understanding these benefits as well, but that they have done their job at an incident which might otherwise have been much more serious.”

All high-rise tower blocks in Doncaster have been fitted with fire sprinklers by St Leger Homes.

The housing provider’s investment followed a joint, fire service funded project at Silverwood House in Doncaster which further highlighted the ease and benefits of retrofitting sprinklers in high-rise buildings.

The installation was awarded £209,000 by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, which used money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

Fire sprinklers are now mandatory in all new build residential buildings in England 11 metres or more in height.

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Tony Carlin named South Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer

Tony Carlin has been named South Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, following a competitive selection process.

Tony, who is currently the service’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, was promoted following multiple recruitment stages and an interview by the Fire Authority’s appointments committee.

Tony joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2000, having begun his career as a firefighter in North Yorkshire in 1992.

He’s built up a broad range of experience within the fire and rescue service- overseeing areas including community and business fire safety, workforce development, training and data and performance. He’s also acted as a workplace mentor to other leaders within the fire and rescue service.

Fire Authority chair Cllr Tony Damms, said: “The selection process was both competitive and thorough, so for Tony to come out on top is testament to his exceptional ability and experience. The qualities he demonstrated to the appointments committee will be important as the service looks to continue its improvement journey.”

Tony Carlin, said: “It’s an incredible honour to be appointed to this position, having served the people of South Yorkshire for more than 20 years. I very much look forward to using my skills and experience to further improve the service and its culture and to help develop the next generation of leaders within a fire and rescue service which I love.”

Tony will take up his new role in May, when the current Deputy Chief Fire Officer steps into the Chief Fire Officer role after current chief Alex Johnson QFSM retires.

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Fire services combine to buy brand new rescue jackets for firefighters

South Yorkshire’s firefighters have been kitted out with a brand new piece of protective clothing, bought as part of a regional collaboration with neighbouring fire and rescue services.

The multi-function rescue jackets are worn by firefighters at non-fire rescue incidents like road traffic collisions, as well as small fires in the open.

The high visibility, waterproof jackets are designed to be as lightweight and breathable as possible, helping fire crews to maneuver more easily and comfortably at incidents where traditional fire kit is not required.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has bought the jackets in a joint venture with the services in North Yorkshire and Humberside.

South Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Carlin, said: “This is a completely new piece of kit for South Yorkshire and signals our commitment to providing our firefighters with the very best clothing and equipment with which they carry out their life saving work.

“We are dedicated to working with our neighbouring services and this is another clear example of a collaboration project that not only enhances the safety of our firefighters, but ensures best value to the people we serve.”

Steve Topham, Director of Service Support Delivery, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The new jackets have been really well received by crews who now have a wider choice of clothing appropriate for non-fire incidents. The regional collaboration has been a real success and ensures that we deliver on our objective of getting the best value for money where possible when purchasing vehicles, equipment and clothing.”

Dave Winspear, North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Director of Capabilities said: “We work really hard to make sure that our firefighters are provided with the most appropriate kit for the job in hand and earlier this month we went live with our new multi-function rescue jacket. It meets all the requirements of a high-vis jacket and you’ll see our firefighters wearing then when attending non-structural incidents like road traffic collisions.”

UK fire and rescue services have been encouraged to work together to drive down the amount spent on essential goods such as frontline equipment and workwear.

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 placed a new statutory duty on emergency services to look at opportunities to work collaboratively.

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Firefighter Ellie becomes family’s third generation to serve at Askern fire station

Three generations of the same firefighting family attended an extra special ceremony to mark the graduation of the latest recruit to join the ranks at Askern fire station.

Ellie Adams, aged 23, has became the third generation of her family to serve at Askern, Doncaster after completing her initial training and ‘passing out’ in front of family and friends at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Sheffield training base.

Amongst those watching were Ellie’s dad Steve Adams and grandad Michael Jackson who both served on-call at Askern fire station.

On-call firefighters are paid for their training, for being on-call and for each incident they attend – but they must live or work within a five minute drive of their closest fire station.

Dad Steve, who retires from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue after 35 years’ service later this month, said: “It was an incredibly proud day for the whole family. Firefighting isn’t something we’ve necessarily pushed on Ellie as a family, but as soon as she heard that we were recruiting at Askern fire station she wanted to give it a go. Like the rest of the recent recruits, she’s had to work really hard to complete her initial training, but the way she’s applied herself to it all has made me really proud.”

Ellie’s grandad Michael Jackson joined Askern fire station in 1960 aged 17- combining his firefighting role with a full time job at the nearby colliery. He rose to the rank of sub-officer, before retiring from the fire service in 1981.

He’d been inspired to sign-up by his older brother Fred- a D-Day veteran who joined Doncaster Fire Brigade in 1947, before going on to become Chief Fire Officer in Hong Kong.

Michael is father-in-law to Steve, who began work at Askern in 1987 before becoming a full time firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 1996. He’s been there ever since, rising to the rank of Group Manager.

Now daughter Ellie has followed in both their footsteps. She joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in September after completing a pandemic disrupted university degree. She’s been working towards completing her initial training, culminating in last week’s ceremony.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is currently recruiting on-call firefighters at Askern, Rossington and Penistone fire station.

For more information on the role of an on-call firefighter or to apply, visit the service’s website here.

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Firefighters to carry out high-rise training exercises to test new procedures

South Yorkshire firefighters will be practicing new procedures for responding to fires in high-rise blocks of flats, as part of work to adopt learning from incidents in tall buildings.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is carrying out multiple training exercises in each of the county’s four districts in the coming months.

The practical, live training will particularly focus on changes to evacuation procedures when fire compartmentation in tall buildings fails.

It will also help firefighters to further familiarise themselves with the lay outs and different risks presented by fires in tall buildings.

College students will perform the role of residents, to make the training as realistic as possible.

Area Manager Cath Toovey, said: “There have been some significant changes in guidance to the way all fire and rescue services respond to fires in tall buildings following national reviews and particularly as a result of the ongoing Grenfell Tower inquiry. It’s really important that we reflect on these changes as a service as ensure our frontline crews are aware of them.”

The exercises will take place at Albion, Buckley and Brittania Houses in Barnsley, Shaftesbury House in Doncaster, Beeversleigh in Rotherham and Keating Block, Leverton Gardens in Sheffield. The buildings have been chosen because of their suitability for the training- not because they are at any greater risk of fire.

Residents in the flats where the training is taking place have already been told the training is taking place.

“Whilst classroom and online training can be effective at explaining theoretical changes to our firefighters and incident commanders, there’s really no replacement for carrying out live, practical exercises like these. We’re particularly grateful to the residents in the buildings for their patience as we plan and deliver these exercises, and to the colleges, local authorities and housing associations for working with us the make the training as realistic and effective as possible. Community safety staff will also be on hand to give home fire safety advice to residents I requested”, said Cath.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has established a dedicated team to implement actions from the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The service announced last year that its Business Fire Safety inspectors had completed a Government-backed project to carry out safety reviews of all high-rise residential buildings in the county.

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New Chief Fire Officer for South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority (SYFRA) has appointed a new Chief Fire Officer.

Chris Kirby was appointed following a selection process which included a written application, interview with members of the Fire Authority and presentation to members of a staff stakeholder panel.

Barnsley-born Chris joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2020. He’d previously served with West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for more than two decades, having joined as a firefighter in 1998.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Tony Damms, said: “The Fire Authority’s appointments panel was greatly impressed by Chris’ obvious passion for improving the service for all those it serves and employs. His people centred approach, vision for change and determination to get things done all make him an outstanding candidate to lead South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in the future.”

Chris will take over the role in May, when the current Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM retires. Alex joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017 and has been Chief Fire Officer since 2020.

“Fire Authority members would like to thank Alex for the leadership she has shown in the role of Chief Fire Officer- particularly in leading the organisation through the pandemic and all of the challenges which that has brought and for her leadership during the 2019 floods. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours,” said Tony.

Chris Kirby said: “I am extremely proud to be offered the role of Chief Fire Officer in South Yorkshire. It is an honour to provide a first class service to the local community and to work alongside so many fantastic people.”

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Fire service welcomes arson conviction after flats fire

Fire officers have welcomed the conviction of a man who started a fire outside flats in Rotherham.

Alex Teasdale, of Meadow Close, Dalton, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and given a 10 year restraining order at Sheffield Crown Court on 5 November after pleading guilty to committing arson recklessly as to whether life would be endangered at the property in Dalton, Rotherham in September 2019.

The fire – which involved household waste – quickly spread to the exterior of the flats, forcing the occupants to evacuate.

Fire cause investigators quickly identified arson as the most probably cause of the fire and CCTV footage was used to help bring about the conviction.

Area Manager Cath Toovey, said: “Arson is a terrible crime with the real potential to endanger life. People starting fires do get caught and they do get prosecuted, as this case clearly illustrates.”

DC Dawn Murray, from South Yorkshire Police, added: “This was an extremely distressing ordeal for the residents of these flats and could very easily have ended with tragic consequences. I’m pleased our partnership work with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has resulted in this sentence, which serves as a strong message to others that arson is not tolerated in our communities.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has launched a new service where people can anonymously report people starting fires in their area. To report arson, call Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558.

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GB Paralympic gold medallist opens new Barnsley fire station

A former South Yorkshire firefighter who went on to strike gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has formally opened a new fire station in Barnsley.

Gavin Walker, aged 38, from Rotherham was handed the honour of officially opening the station on Broadway, Kingstone which went operational in August following a multi-million pound demolition and construction project.

Gavin claimed gold as part of the GB Wheelchair Rugby team at this summer’s games, having taken up the sport following a spinal injury in 2010. He’d previously served as a firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for seven years.

Gavin, speaking at the event, said: “When the Chief Fire Officer telephoned me to ask me to perform the official opening, it felt like a massive honour and an opportunity I was only too happy to accept. I’ve always loved the fire and rescue service and I have very fond memories of my time working for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. Massive congratulations to everyone on completing this incredible new fire station, which I am sure will serve the people of Barnsley for many, many years to come.”

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM, said: “A great many people and organisations have been involved in this project. All have done an incredible job in creating a bright, modern,  energy efficient building which provides a safe and comfortable environment for frontline firefighters to live and work in. One of our aspirations as a service is to be a great place to work and investing in our buildings is one of the many ways we are working towards achieving that vision.”

The energy efficient building replaces the 60-year-old fire station on the same site which had reached the end of its operational life.

Firefighters had been housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst the year-long construction of the new station was completed.

An existing unused building adjacent to the fire station will now be re-purposed and upgraded to host the service’s award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme initiative as well as providing space to hold events and meetings and bookings from community groups.

Energy saving measures at the new fire station include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

The investment forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around £8 million being set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate.

Gavin performed the official opening at a special event in front of staff, suppliers and dignitaries, including the Mayor of Barnsley Cllr Caroline Mickinson.

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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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