Video shines a light on pride of fire service staff

We’ve created a poem and a video to remind the 1.3 million people we serve of everything we do and how proud we are to do it- from a firefighter on a fire station, to a receptionist at our headquarters, to a mechanic in our workshops.

It’s also an attempt to explain that we don’t just put out fires and our staff aren’t just firefighters play a vital role in lots of other ways, from enforcing building safety laws, giving your kids safety advice at school or visiting an older relative’s home to fit smoke alarms.

We’re really, really proud of all our staff and of the work they do for people in South Yorkshire.

Fire service scoops major national cyber threats certification

A major national cyber security award has been granted to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue- one of the only fire and rescue services in the country to have achieved the mark.

The award of the Cyber Essentials Plus certification, verified independently by an approved accreditation body, recognises the steps the service’s ICT team has taken to protect the organisation against cyber threats.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was already Cyber Essentials accredited, but achieved the Plus rating following a random sample of devices and systems.

Director of Support Services Stuart Booth, said: “Cyber threats are a real issue for national and local government institutions, which is why our ICT team have been working so hard behind the scenes to safeguard our systems and data. Achieving the Cyber Essentials Plus certification provides important reassurance to our partners and the public.

“Whilst we can feel safe in the knowledge that our systems and equipment are as safe as they can be, the nature of cyber threats mean that they are constantly changing and evolving, so all staff should remain vigilant when using IT systems, email and the internet.”

Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed, industry-supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats. It’s run in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Common steps organisations take to protect themselves from threats include making sure our devices and software are up to date, using an internet firewall and implementing measures to stop viruses and malware. It’s also important to control who has access to data and services and to choose the most secure settings for the devices and software our staff use.

 

Cyber Security was identified as a Tier 1 threat by the Government in the 2010 National Security Strategy, alongside terrorism, war and natural disasters.

ENDS

Police and fire community safety teams join forces in major collaboration milestone

South Yorkshire safety teams have joined forces, in an ambitious fire and police collaboration project.

The joint community safety department brings together staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police to work together with the shared aim of keeping people safe.

The leadership within each service believe the joint department will make both organisations’ work to prevent emergencies and reduce demand more efficient and effective.

High profile activities the teams currently undertake include home safety checks, crime prevention visits and youth engagement activities such as the award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme, which has helped to transform the lives of more than 200 young people in two years.

The teams also operate the Lifewise Centre which is an interactive safety centre in Hellaby, Rotherham. It opened in 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year, including nearly every Year 6 pupil in South Yorkshire.

Area Manager Steve Helps, who was jointly appointed by both organisations to lead the team, said: “Police and fire have worked closely to make people safer for many years. But we truly believe that by bringing together the skills, experience and specialisms of both teams, we can do even more to reduce demand and better protect the communities we serve. Vulnerability in our communities is going up at a time when our resources are not, so we need to become even more targeted in what we do and the people we engage with. This project is about meeting that aspiration and providing early intervention to better meet our future demands.”

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: “I’m pleased that South Yorkshire’s police and fire and rescue service are collaborating to form a joint community safety department and look forward to hearing more about the benefits this brings to local communities. The Government introduced a number of measures to facilitate greater collaboration between our emergency services, which presents a real opportunity to provide a more efficient and effective service to the public.”

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 placed a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Stephen Watson, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive Jamie Courtney, Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and Chair of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Chris Lamb signed a collaboration agreement earlier this year to outline the terms and vision of the work between the organisations.

Other big collaboration developments have included the development of a joint police and fire station in Maltby and the appointment of a Head of Joint Vehicle Fleet Management and Head of Joint Estates and Facilities Management.

Sheffield volunteer teaching sign language to firefighters

A much-loved Sheffield volunteer is helping the fire service to give safety advice to deaf and hard of hearing people, by sharing his sign language skills with crews.

Phil Bowers, aged 49, has volunteered for two days a week as a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue fire support volunteer for more than five years, helping to carry out home safety visits and fitting smoke alarms.

But he is also a trained British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, meaning he has been able to share basic signing skills with community safety staff and firefighters, including a watch at Parkway fire station and managers across the service.

Phil said; “Apart from teaching the crews at Parkway fire station I have also been teaching group managers and had invitations to teach at different fire stations in South Yorkshire. Having sign language skills feels like a great blessing to myself and I feel really lucky that it is not just in my head, but it is locked into my heart. I feel so blessed that I can share it with my fire service family.

“It is so nice that South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue want to learn about the deaf and hard of hearing community, which I have always felt sometimes doesn’t get noticed.

“It has been a pleasure for the last five years to be welcomed to the fire service family, to learn so many different skills and how to be professional in many different situations. It’s just been unbelievable and it has been the loveliest roller coaster of my life.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “Our brilliant volunteers contribute so much to the work we are doing to make people safer. We have dozens of volunteers, bringing a huge range of different and diverse qualities, skills and experiences. It can sometimes be harder for firefighters and other staff members to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, so Phil sharing some basic sign-language skills in this way will be of huge benefit.”

To find out more about volunteering with the fire service, visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/find-a-job/volunteering/

Pitsmoor playground workers hail impact of fire funding

Play workers behind a much-loved community playground in Sheffield have hailed the impact fire service backing has had on their facility.

Pitsmoor Adventure Playground was built in the 1970s, but funding problems earlier this decade meant the site was open for just nine hours per week.

Now thanks to help from a range of partners, including cash from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve fund, the playground is helping to transform the lives of children in the area- with fire officers hoping it will help to reduce fires in the process.

The playground is accessed by children and young people from across Pitsmoor, Burngreave and the surrounding areas, including harder to reach children from Roma Slovak, Yemeni and Somali communities.

Evidence suggests it is making a big impact on young people’s life skills, behaviour and personal self-care, including dental hygiene.

Children visiting the playground are also encouraged by play team workers and volunteers to become active citizens, taking care of the playground and the surrounding communities. The fire funding, which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves, helped to pay for fire safety through play sessions and additional learning sessions have been delivered on keeping safe on roads and around water.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “We know that we can’t hope to reach every member of our community on our own, which is why we need the help of charities and community organisations like this one. Our goal as a fire service is to make our communities safer and stronger and we believe our contribution towards this important and much-loved facility in the heart of one of Sheffield’s more deprived neighbourhoods is a good example of how we are working towards that mission.”

Fire Authority member Cllr Jackie Satur, said: “This is exactly the sort of project the Fire Authority has been proud to support- making a measurable difference to the lives of young people in a particularly deprived area, whilst at the same time helping to reduce fires through targeted education and advice.”         

Charity Manager Patrick Meleady, said, “We are delighted to have secured the support of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and through our partnership arrangements have engaged with 100s of people, this project is making a considerable difference within our community having a direct impact on educating the children on the importance of keeping safe.”

For more information visit pitsmooradventure.org.

Businesses asked to back up alarms as fire service battles heatwave

The fire service has called on businesses to back up automatic fire alarms with 999 calls, as it battles higher than average call volumes during the heatwave.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue automatically attends certain industrial and commercial premises which are fitted with specialist fire alarm systems, despite the call outs almost always turning out to be false alarms.

With 999 operators handling hundreds of calls a day and firefighters attending dozens more incidents than usual during the current hot spell, officers want building managers of non-life risk premises to dial 999 to confirm there’s definitely a fire.

Group Manager Andy Hayter, said: “Most false alarms are caused by faulty fire detection equipment, people setting alarms off by accident, not following correct fire alarm test procedure or building managers failing to investigate the cause of the fire alarm.

“Whilst we will always attend incidents where there is definitely a fire, this short term, common sense measure will help to ensure that our fire engines are available to attend genuine emergencies if they do occur.”

To reduce false alarms, businesses should check their alarm systems regularly and train staff properly on what to do if an alarm sounds.

Praise for firefighters and public safety plea as hot dry weather continues

Fire officers have praised crews for their work in tackling a higher than average number of incidents- and called on the public help prevent blazes.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s control room handled 336 emergency calls in the last 24 hours (8am Monday 23 July to 8am Tuesday 24 July), with crews being mobilised to 87 incidents across the county, including some which took several hours to tackle.

Many of the incidents the fire service has dealt with have been grass and rubbish fires, or in some cases bonfires which have spread to sheds, shrubs and trees.

Head of Emergency Response Tony Carlin, said: “Our crews are providing a fantastic service in what are clearly very hot, difficult firefighting conditions. We are proud of each and every one of our firefighters and control operators and they are rightly receiving praise from the public during what is a busier than usual period for us.

“But with the forecast set to remain warm and dry for several weeks, we really need people to help us, help them by taking some basic precautions to prevent fires. For example, take rubbish with you if you are out and about in the countryside as glass bottles and cigarette ends can easily start fires.

“We’d much rather people put off having garden bonfires until the hot, dry weather has subsided, but if you do insist on having a fire make sure it is sited well away from sheds, buildings and trees and don’t leave it unattended.

“And with around three quarters of all the fires we attend being arson, report people starting fires in your area to police 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.”

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

Young people’s inspiration for Goldthorpe wildlife haven

A project to transform a rubbish strewn former railway embankment into a wildlife haven was got underway, having been kick started by young people on a fire and police led development course two years ago.

Young people on South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police’s Prince’s Trust Team Programme cleaned and painted three unloved bridges in Goldthorpe, Barnsley in 2016 as part of an award-winning community project.

The initiative helped to renew interest in the space, which had become blighted with flytipping.

Now work is underway to turn an area of disused railway embankments beneath the bridges into a new outdoor destination for residents and nature, after the Dearne Area Council Team established ‘The Railway Embankment Group’ in response to the frustrations of local residents.

During the initial stage of the project, architecture students from Sheffield University worked with residents to create a vision for the area.  The Railway Embankment Group and local volunteers meet regularly, and carried out litter picks and campaigns to clean up the area ready for the work to begin.  Pupils from Goldthorpe Primary School have made bird boxes and a hedgehog hotel for the scheme to encourage wildlife to the area, which will be placed at the site once the access route is complete.

The scheme is due to complete in 2019 and once finished the embankment will feature an orchard and wildflower area, with a new access route to allow people to get into the site. The site will be used for local environmental and wildlife sessions for all of the community to benefit. Interpretation boards designed by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership will be installed to provide visitors with the history and facts about the site.

Princes Trust Team Leader John Daley, said: “This project is evidence of the lasting impact that young people completing our courses can have. I am proud of the legacy we left in this area, contributing to a renewed interest in an unloved community space.

“The mix of modern ideas for conservation combined with Goldthorpe’s industrial heritage are a breath of fresh air for this former unofficial tip and far from the original ideas which would have seen them disappear completely leaving nothing for the young people in the area to remember their proud heritage with.  The embankment team have worked tirelessly with other agencies to see this massive project take root and fired the imagination of everyone involved.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Team Programme more than two years ago. During that time around 200 young people have benefited from the 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 –to25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

The courses are based at fire stations and are the only programmes of their type in the country to be jointly delivered by fire and police services. For more information or to sign-up, email princestrust@syfire.gov.uk

Grass fire warning during hot weather

Fire crews are warning the public to take extra care during this period of hot weather to avoid any accidental grass fires.

During hot and dry weather the risk of grass fires increases, but following a few simple steps can greatly reduce the chance of a fire starting.

Fire officers are asking people to help prevent grass fires by:

• Not using open fires in the countryside

• Making sure any barbecue or disposable barbecue is only used in a suitable location and is extinguished properly after use

• Extinguishing cigarettes completely and not throwing cigarette ends on the ground

• Not leaving bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires

Fire crews want their resources available to protect the communities of South Yorkshire, incidents involving accidental grass fires can use up a lot of these vital resources.