South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Fire service’s pandemic response praised in South Yorkshire

A national inspection has praised the response of South Yorkshire’s fire service to the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue adapted to the pandemic effectively, carried on delivering its core services and provided additional support to the community during the first phase of the pandemic.

Inspectors also found that staff wellbeing was made a clear priority for the service and praised senior leaders for actively promoting wellbeing services, in a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) today.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson said: “I’m so incredibly proud of the way staff from right across the service have responded to a really difficult situation and I’m pleased that so much of their hard work has been recognised by inspectors.

“Right at the start of the pandemic, I asked my staff to stand up and be counted at a time of enormous national need. Whether it was delivering food and medicine to isolated, vulnerable people, delivering PPE to frontline health workers or volunteering to drive ambulances and fit face masks, they stepped up in a really big way.”

All fire and rescue services underwent a Covid-19 themed HMICFRS inspection to find out how well they had responded to the first stages of the pandemic.

Although they weren’t given a graded judgement, a written response highlighted areas of good work and areas for improvement.

“Whilst the pandemic has presented us with some obvious challenges and taken a terrible toll on our communities, like so many organisations it has also helped us to make massive leaps forward in terms of modernising our ways of working and planning for and responding to disruptive events such as this in the future. Our next task is to ensure all that learning and all those improvements are adopted longer term,” said Alex.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said: “This inspection was unique, Fire and Rescue Services are normally assessed against standardised and known criteria, the onset of the Covid 19 Pandemic meant our service was required to carry out many functions and tasks it wouldn’t normally be expected to undertake and inspectors considered how the service had met that challenge.

“It is clear from this report and indeed from our own observation as a Fire Authority, the service has responded strongly and selflessly. Every member of the service has shared the same terrible and frightening experience as the rest of us; but, from strategic leadership through to performing the most basic but ‘essential for someone’ task, they have met those additional challenges admirably. I’m immensely proud and humbled by their response and delighted that the inspectors offer the formal recognition they deserve.”

The findings have been published in a letter on the HMICFRS website, which is available here.

A separate HMICFRS inspection in 2019 rated South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue ‘good’ across all three judgement criteria.

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Fire Authority approves response time arrangements

Councillors have approved a new set of response times for South Yorkshire’s fire service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as it possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make it more accountable to local people, helps it to improve its service and bring them in line with most other fire and rescue services around the country.

A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards, because it did not allow the service to measure its performance or give the public something in which they could hold the service to account.

The new response time arrangements take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Adopting a more risk based approach allows us to ensure we are placing resources in the right places at the right time to best protect the communities we serve. This includes the work we do around preventing fires, protecting buildings and responding to incidents when they do occur.

“We will still aim to get to each emergency as fast as we can, but having a set of response times means we can measure our performance to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to our communities with the resources we have available to us.”

The proposal to introduce response time standards followed consultation with nearly 4,000 local people and a thorough analysis of the different risks faced by the fire service in South Yorkshire.

They form part of the service’s latest draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’. This is a plan which explains the different risks in South Yorkshire how the fire service intends to address them with the resources it has available.

The service’s final plan was approved by members of the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (11 January).

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Fire service highlights relative’s story of Sheffield firefighter killed in 1940 blitz

South Yorkshire’s fire service is highlighting the story of a firefighting hero killed during the Sheffield Blitz- exactly 80 years after the events which took his life.

Frederick Parkes Spencer was the only permanent, full time Police Fireman – as they were then known – to have been killed when thousands of tons of explosives were dropped on Sheffield on the night of 12 and 13 December 1940.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has already honoured Frederick by naming one of the conference rooms at its Eyre Street headquarters in his memory.

Division Street drill yard

The room is just a stone’s throw from where Frederick lost his life on Charles Street, when the Empire Theatre received a direct hit from a German bomb.

One of his relatives, Anne Whiteley, has been researching the story of her mum’s cousin.

Anne said: “The night of the Blitz- a Thursday evening, 12 of December- had been half day closing, so Sheffield was busy, as it had always been a popular night for going out to the clubs, theatres, cinemas and dance halls. At the City Hall a dance was in progress. The entertainment at The Empire Theatre that evening was Henry Hall and his Orchestra”.

“The `take cover` warning was sounded at 7pm and enemy planes were soon overhead, attacking the city centre. Stationed and living at the service headquarters at Division Street, Frederick Parkes Spencer was on active duty that night, with all his colleagues”.

“Crews from Division Street, reinforced by part-time crews from Sheffield`s auxiliary fire stations were quickly in the city centre, and were attending the fires caused by the first wave of `marker` incendiaries when the second wave of enemy bombers arrived.”

Empire Theatre following the bombing

Over 500 telephone calls were received at the Fire Station Control Room. At 12.42 am on 13th December, Sheffield Police Fire Brigade requested assistance from Sheffield Transport Department and neighbouring fire brigades. In response, 50 pumps were sent from as far away as Birmingham, Manchester and York. Pumps also arrived from 20 towns.

The outside help eventually extended to over 70 pumps and 522 men. The most intense bombardment was between 10.30pm and 2.15am on 12 and 13 December, continuing for a total of nine hours.

Codenamed Operation Crucible by the Germans, these raids saw hundreds of Heinkel 111, Dornier 17 and Junker 88 drop many thousands of tons of explosives on Sheffield. Mains water supplies ran out quite quickly and needed to be relayed from public baths and even the river Don.

The Empire Theatre on Charles Street was hit by a bomb, and had received severe structural damage, was on fire, and in danger of collapse. Frederick was entering the theatre to try to check and clear the building of persons remaining inside, but he and Auxiliary Fireman Stanley Slack, age 29, who lived at Hermitage Street, Moorfoot, both died at the scene.

Anne said: “Frederick was 36 years old and the only permanent and full-time Police Fireman to die in the Blitz. Police Firemen had powers to arrest offenders and jail them if necessary, hence the cells which can still be seen at the National Emergency Services Museum, in Sheffield”.

“Frederick’s parents, and younger brother, Jack, were living at Bradway Road at the time. Jack Spencer, on leave from the Navy in Singapore, was only able to identify him from his brass helmet and the number `2` on his uniform, as he was so badly injured. This helmet and his posthumous award for bravery were later donated by Jack, and put on display at The National Emergency Services Museum”.

“However, Edna, his wife, had to vacate their flat at the Division Street headquarters and return to live with her parents close to Woodhouse cemetery where she buried Frederick,  his headstone simply stating `died as a result of enemy action`. Sheffield City Council Watch Committee of 19 December 1940 awarded her a pension of £78pa under the provisions of The Police Pensions Act 1921 and The Police and Fireman War Service Act 1939.”

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “As the events of World War II begin to fade from living memory, we believe it’s even more important than ever to tell the stories of people like Frederick Parkes Spencer and all the other men and women who lost their lives trying to protect Sheffield, its buildings and its people.”

Following The Sheffield Blitz further raids were mounted by The Luftwaffe. However, none of them matched the intensity and loss of life that occurred on 12/13 and 15 December 1940.

You can find out more about the contribution of the work of firefighters during the Sheffield Blitz by searching The Sheffield Fire Brigade website edited by Edward Mullins, and visiting the National Emergency Services Museum on West Bar in the city.

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Fire service wins global award for South Yorkshire flooding recovery

The fire service’s recovery from flooding which hit South Yorkshire last autumn has been recognised with a major international award.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was awarded ‘Most Effective Recovery’ at the Business Continuity Institute’s Global Awards.

The award- presented to the service’s Resilience, Planning and Contingencies team at a virtual ceremony- recognises organisations which have effectively managed major incidents.

The fire service rescued more than 300 people and pumped away an estimated 363 million litres of flood water when heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in parts of Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham in November 2019.

It also coordinated the efforts of fire and rescue services and other agencies who arrived from all over the UK to support the local effort.

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson, said: “The flooding which devastated so many parts of our county in 2019 will live long in the memory for many people and sadly it continues to affect the lives of those who were most severely affected. However, we are pleased that our work to plan for, respond to and ultimately recover from such an event has been acknowledged in this way. It provides much needed recognition to our staff who work so hard behind the scenes.”

The BCI Awards honour business continuity and resilience professionals and organizations worldwide. The global awards are the most prestigious event in the business continuity calendar.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue represented Europe, overcoming competition from organisations from five other regions to win the award.

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Sheffield building owner fined after failing to provide cladding info to fire inspectors

A Sheffield building owner has been fined after obstructing the work of fire safety inspectors.

Mr Gunes Ata, trading as Noble Design & Build, was found guilty by Sheffield Magistrates Court of failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with requirements imposed by an inspector from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

Mr Ata did not attend the hearing on Wednesday (18 November) and did not enter a plea, but the court heard the case in his absence.

Evidence presented by the fire service showed that Mr Ata had failed to provide information relating to the external cladding of one of his buildings within the timescales requested by inspectors. This information was later provided and the cladding in question at London Court on Beeley Street was removed.

The Court ordered Mr Ata be fined £660, to pay a victims surcharge of £66 and to pay full costs of £1177.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, said: “Fire safety laws are designed to keep people safe- nothing more, nothing less. Whilst our building safety inspectors always try to engage positively with building owners and responsible persons, we will also make no hesitation in prosecuting those who persistently obstruct our work.”

For more information on business fire safety laws, visit www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice

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Two weeks left to have say on fire service plans

There’s just over two weeks left for people to have their say on draft plans published by South Yorkshire’s fire service – including proposals for how quickly it should respond to different types of emergency.

Have your say here

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as it possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make it more accountable to local people, help it to improve its service and bring them in line with most other services around the country.

Currently the service simply aims to get to all emergencies as fast as it can, every time. A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards.

The proposed new response time arrangements will take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Adopting a more risk based approach allows us to ensure we are placing resources in the right places at the right time to best protect the communities we serve. This includes the work we do around preventing fires, protecting buildings and responding to incidents when they do occur.

“We will still aim to get to each emergency as fast as we can, but having a set of response times means we can measure our performance to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to our communities with the resources we have available to us.”

The response time proposals follow initial consultation with more than 3,000 local people and a thorough analysis of the different risks faced by the fire service in South Yorkshire.

They form part of the service’s latest draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’. This is a plan which explains the different risks in South Yorkshire how the fire service intends to address them with the resources it has available.

The draft plan was discussed by members of the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (14 September), who instructed the service to begin a further period of consultation with staff and the public.

The consultation period closes on 4 December.

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Have your say on draft risk management plan

South Yorkshire’s fire service wants people to have their say on its draft Integrated Risk Management Plan 2021-24.

This is a plan which explains how the fire service will keep local people safe over the next few years.

You can read a PDF of our draft Integrated Risk Management Plan 2021 to 2024 here or view it as HTML here

You can have your say on the plan using our online survey here

Amongst the issues we want your views on is our expected response times for different types of incident, which have been published in the draft plan.

We will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as we possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make us more accountable to local people, help us to improve our service and bring us in line with most other services around the country.

Currently we simply aim to get to all emergencies as fast as we can, every time. A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards.

The proposed new response time arrangements take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

The results of the consultation will be considered before a final version of the Integrated Risk Management Plan 2021-24 is presented to the Fire Authority in January.

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Draft risk management plan published

South Yorkshire’s fire service presented its latest plans for keeping local people safe next week – including proposals for how quickly it should respond to different types of emergency.

You can read our Draft Integrated Risk Management Plan 2021 to 2024 here.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as it possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make it more accountable to local people, help it to improve its service and bring them in line with most other services around the country.

Currently the service simply aims to get to all emergencies as fast as it can, every time. A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards.

The proposed new response time arrangements will take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Adopting a more risk based approach allows us to ensure we are placing resources in the right places at the right time to best protect the communities we serve. This includes the work we do around preventing fires, protecting buildings and responding to incidents when they do occur.

“We will still aim to get to each emergency as fast as we can, but having a set of response times means we can measure our performance to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to our communities with the resources we have available to us.”

The response time proposals follow initial consultation with more than 3,000 local people and a thorough analysis of the different risks faced by the fire service in South Yorkshire.

They form part of the service’s latest draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’. This is a plan which explains the different risks in South Yorkshire how the fire service intends to address them with the resources it has available.

The draft plan was discussed by members of the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (14 September), who instructed the service to begin a further period of consultation with staff and the public.

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Calais to London mileage mission for Sheffield man’s Red Cross refugee cause

A Sheffield man is attempting to ‘run’ between Calais and London in a bid to raise cash and awareness for refugees.

Steve Kay, aged 36, has already clocked up 50 miles in his 108 miles mission to support the British Red Cross, which offers support, food and hygiene to refugees and people seeking asylum.

Steve, who works in the ICT team at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, said: “2020 has been a tough year for many people across the world, but most of these hardships are a drop in the ocean compared to the horrors that refugees face in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Many refugees are forced to flee war-torn countries and are left with nothing, and the British Red Cross offer a vital lifeline in the form of supplies, communication and transport that serves to help them start a new life.”

Steve aims to have reached his mileage target- which matches the distance between Calais and London- by the end of September.

He’s already raised more than £400 for the British Red Cross, which aims to help people in crisis whoever and wherever they are.

People can sponsor Steve here https://miles-for-refugees-2020.everydayhero.com/uk/steven-kay

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Firefighters graduate with live-streamed passing parade

The 65th firefighter recruits graduated with a passing out parade at the service’s training centre on Friday (7 September).

With large gatherings still not permitted, the ceremony was live streamed so that friends and families of the ten recruits could watch from home.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson and Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor both addressed the recruits.

The recruits were all presented with their certificates, before the award for top recruit was made to Paul Barrett.

You can watch the ceremony for yourselves on our YouTube Channel here

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