South Yorkshire care homes reminded of fire safety laws duty

Business fire safety officers are reminding care home owners in South Yorkshire of their obligations under safety laws, after a serious incident in Hertfordshire over the weekend.

The circumstances around the fire in Cheshunt where two people sadly died are still being investigated, but South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) says the incident is another reminder of the risks associated with residential care facilities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is the enforcing body for business fire safety laws locally, with care homes and other specialist accommodation falling under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Business Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson said: “People living in residential care homes are often very vulnerable to fire. They may have limited mobility, or a disability, which makes it difficult for them to notice a fire and react quickly.

“That’s why it is so important care providers and care home owners take their fire safety responsibilities seriously and why we are working with them to improve fire safety where needed.”

The fire service says there are a number of things that care providers should consider to reduce their risk of fire and save lives, including:

  • Carrying out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment to ensure the safety of the people in your care, and your staff.
  • Fitting sprinklers. They are a potentially life saving tool that can be effective in stopping fires from spreading quickly, particularly in buildings occupied by people with reduced mobility.
  • Training staff in the evacuation of people from residential care
  • Learning to spot the signs of a person who is more at risk being seriously injured in a fire, or who poses a greater risk of accidentally starting a fire, and put in place reasonable steps to prevent it

For more information on business fire safety law, click here

BBQ warning after hot weather fires

South Yorkshire firefighters are warning residents to use barbecues carefully, after a spate of fires coinciding with the spring heatwave.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue attended several incidents over the weekend caused by careless use of

The incidents included an unattended BBQ which set fire to an outhouse on Birchall Avenue, Rotherham at around 9pm on Saturday.

Elsewhere, a BBQ ignited wooden decking at a property on Leybourne Road, Sheffield just before midnight on Saturday and a BBQ ignited bushes on Station Road, Woodhouse at around 9pm on Sunday.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue say al fresco cooking carries a potential fire risk- but only if barbecues are used incorrectly.

Trevor Bernard, head of community safety, said: “Many people will have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend. All we are saying is before you get started with the sausages and kebabs, take a minute to decide where you’re going to site it. Then, when the coals are properly cooled, dispose of them safely.”

To make sure your barbecue goes to plan:

  • Site it on a flat surface well away from trees, shrubs and grassland
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand close by, just in case
  • Never use petrol or paraffin on a barbecue, only recognised lighters and starter fuels
  • Make sure the coals have properly cooled before disposal and empty ashes onto bare soil, not into the binBarbecues continue to give off the deadly gas even after the coals are cool. So campers should never use barbecues inside tents, or to stay warm indoors.
  • Recent high-profile deaths on campsites involving barbecues have also prompted safety campaigners to remind campers of the fatal consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fire Authority approves fire service plans

Two extra fire engines will be introduced in South Yorkshire, under plans approved by councillors today (27 March).

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says the plans mean it will continue to provide the best possible service to local people within the resources available to it, despite having lost more than £14 million from its annual budget since 2010.

Key changes in the service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan 2017-20, approved by its governing Fire Authority, 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 explain how the fire service will respond to Government’s efforts to reform the fire service nationally, including requirements to provide a more flexible and diverse workforce.

Following feedback from staff and the public during the consultation phase, the service says it will keep the second fire engine at Central fire station as a full time appliance if its funding allows.

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.

“For us, that means making more of our firefighters available in the day when crews are busiest, changing our prevention work to focus on those most at risk and proactively exploring collaboration opportunities with other emergency services.

“We were pleased that lots of local people came forward to share their views on our proposals and, now they have been approved, we will be working hard to put those plans into action.”

All fire and rescue authorities must provide a plan which sets out the steps they will take and resources they need to improve public safety, reduce fires and save lives. This is known as an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). It must be publicly available, reflect consultation with stakeholders and demonstrate the most up-to-date analysis of local risk.

To read the final plan, click here

Young fire fan visits South Yorkshire as part of 2,500-station journey

An 11-year-old autistic schoolboy who dreams of being a firefighter has visited stations in South Yorkshire as part of efforts to visit every fire facility in the country.

Andrew Impey, from Southsea, Hampshire recently ticked off the 999th station, the emergency services number marking a milestone on his 2,500-station journey.

This week he added Birley Moor, Parkway and Elm Lane fire stations to his list as part of his mission.

He had been aiming to raise £999 for The Fire Fighters Charity but upped this to £1,943 to mark the period when the National Fire Service was born. He has so far raised more than £1,700.

In addition to stations, he has visited individual departments, specialist units and even fire crews based at airports.

This year he will be visiting the US with his family to meet firefighters from the Fire Department of the City of New York.

He has also kitted his room out as a fire station with more than 800 bits of equipment and trinkets he has been given by various services and pieces he has picked up at expos and trade shows.

He has 32 helmets, 10 full fire kits and even a mini-set of breathing apparatus as well as a control room-style map and a firefighters’ pole.

Andrew documents his travels on social media, where he uses his middle name and is known as Andrew Dane, on #oneladschallenge.

Two weeks left to have your say on how fire service delivers its work to local people

There are two weeks left for people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how the fire service plans to deliver its work 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 last month, 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 draft 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 until 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- the last of which takes place at Barnsley’s Alhambra Centre tomorrow (Tuesday 14 March).

This consultation has now ended

Sheffield emergency services team attends hundreds of homes during six month pilot

A joint emergency services team set up to protect vulnerable people and reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield will continue its work for another six months, having visited hundreds of homes in the city during a successful trial.

The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, set up by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police and supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, sees staff visit homes to reduce fire risk in properties, provide reassurance and support to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, improve security and help people who have fallen.

The team has carried out almost 300 crime prevention checks and more than 350 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms, during an initial six month trial.

The team also responds to help people at high volume, lower priority incidents, including helping 61 people who have had a fall, are not seriously injured, but are unable to get up on their own. Other work has included visiting dozens of vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour or burglaries and completing enquiries in relation to ten missing people.

Some of this work traditionally takes police staff and paramedics off the road for many hours.

The team won the award for best NHS Collaboration at the Health Business Awards 2016 event in London last year and emergency service bosses say the team is the best possible example of 999 agencies working more closely together in South Yorkshire.

SYFR Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps, said: “During its first six months, this team has more than proven its concept and has helped hundreds of people in Sheffield at the same time as keeping police and ambulance crews available for other, more serious types of incident.

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

Chief Inspector Jenny Lax from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The LIFE team is an excellent example of emergency services working together through collaboration to reduce the vulnerability of people in our communities and improve their quality of life”.

The team operates using two specialist vehicles and consists of four staff – two South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue employees and two South Yorkshire Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

The scheme has been funded by South Yorkshire Fire Authority and researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been commissioned to evaluate its effectiveness.

Last year the Government announced new proposals to transform the way the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work together. It wants to encourage collaboration by introducing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

In South Yorkshire, fire crews already attend hundreds of ‘medical break-ins’ every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them. This work used to be carried out by the police.

A joint police and fire station in Maltby will open later this year, whilst five ambulance stand-by points are being created at five other fire service premises across the county.

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.”