Dozens attend care homes seminar

Dozens of care home managers have attended a fire service safety seminar, at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Sheffield training centre.

The seminar gave care providers tips on the steps they can take to avoid falling foul of fire safety law. This includes carrying out a fire risk assessment, which is essential for ensuring the safety of those being cared for. Other measures include proper maintenance of fire detection systems and ensuring escape routes are adequate.

Speakers at the event also discussed how sprinkler systems can be installed to provide added protection to premises and those they house.

Technical Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “Vulnerable people, including older people, as well as those with mental health problems and those with mobility issues, are amongst the people most at risk from fire. But we were concerned by how many premises- which should be places where people feel safe- are failing to meet some basic fire safety standards. So it was pleasing that a good number of people in associated with residential care facilities attended this event to learn more about fire safety.

“Prosecutions taken under fire safety legislation are always a last resort and we would much rather work with care providers to ensure good safety standards are met. Educating businesses about their obligations is always our first approach, which is why we put on this event, so care home managers can pick up advice and so they know what to expect when one of our inspectors visits their premises.

SYFR revealed last month that enforcement action had been taken against 14 residential care or nursing homes since 2013 under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This included working with owners to ensure adequate fire safety measures were put in place.

Care homes are monitored by the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England.

Read more about fire safety laws for businesses

Sizzle safely say firefighters ahead of BBQ weekend

South Yorkshire residents planning to celebrate the warm weather with a barbecue this weekend are being reminded to take some basic steps to ensure their party plans don’t go up in smoke.

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

Kevin Ronan, head of community safety, said: “Many people will be taking advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and after a week of rain, who can blame them. 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 bin

Recent high-profile deaths on campsites involving barbecues have also prompted safety campaigners to remind campers of the fatal consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Barbecues 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.

South Yorkshire events to mark UK road safety week

The fire service is calling on South Yorkshire’s drivers to mark a major national awareness week by making the county’s highways injury free.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and its partners will be spelling out road dangers at four events across the county to mark UK Road Safety Week (June 8-15), coordinated by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA).

Every day around 10 injury collisions are recorded on South Yorkshire’s roads. By educating motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about common causes of road injuries such as speeding, drink driving and distraction, members of the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership aim to bring that figure down.

Several road safety events and demonstrations are taking place across the county, including:

  • Monday 8th June – Asda Aldwarke Lane,  Rotherham
  • Tuesday 9th June – Asda Old Mill Lane, Barnsley
  • Wednesday 10th June – Morrisons Hillsborough, Sheffield
  • Thursday 11th June – Lakeside Shopping centre, Doncaster

The events will feature a Subaru Impreza, used by the fire service to give advice to young drivers, who make up the majority of deaths and injuries on the region’s roads.

The advice that the fire service will be giving to road users includes:

Think speed – the risk of killing a pedestrian is four times higher at 40mph, than 30mph

Keep your distance – leave at least a two second gap between you and the car in front

Don’t drink and drive – just one drink can affect your response times as a driver.

Distractions– never use a mobile phone when driving, only use a hands free kit

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Gary Bruce, said: “Safe driving is mostly common sense. So we’re asking people to drive at the appropriate speed, leave a decent gap between you and the vehicle in front and never, ever drink and drive. Not just during this week, but every single day.”

Click for more information about staying safe on the roads.

Or drivers can refresh their knowledge of the Highway Code with a quick  fire service quiz here

First turntable ladder arrives in South Yorkshire

The first of two new aerial appliances has arrived in South Yorkshire. It is now being kitted out before firefighters undergo familiarisation training with the new vehicle.

The Turntable Ladder (TL) has been manufactured by Metz XS and supplied through the Rosenbauer Group here in the UK. It is believed to be the best specification firefighting turntable ladder on the market.

The L32A model has superior accuracy and agility compared to an aerial ladder platform (ALP), deploying 90 seconds faster. Its ladder can reach 32 metres and provides water more quickly than an ALP.

After specifications were submitted by companies interested in providing the vehicles, extensive testing by a working group consisting of staff in various roles across the fire service took place.

Fire service volunteers join Rotherham march

A dozen fire service volunteers joined a march through Rotherham town centre this week, in celebration of their service to local people.

The walk, organised by Voluntary Action Rotherham, attracted support from businesses and individuals along the route. More than 200 people who volunteer for a variety of local organisations joined the walk to mark National Volunteers’ Week.

Volunteers contribute to the work of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) in a variety of ways, including supporting community safety events, schools work and helping to deliver educational scenarios for the thousands of children who visit Lifewise Centre, Rotherham each year.

Sue Butler, volunteers coordinator at SYFR, said: “This is overdue recognition not just for those volunteers who give up their time to make their communities safer by working with the fire service, but for the many thousands of volunteers from across Rotherham who are helping local people on a daily basis.”

Click for more information about volunteering for the fire service.

Yellow wind warning prompts safety tips

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind across South Yorkshire, and many other parts of the country, later on Monday and overnight into Tuesday.

We’re asking the public, and especially drivers, to take some precautions to stay safe, as some gusts are expected to reach more than 60 miles per hour.

Driving tips during windy weather

  • Check local traffic reports to see if the route is clear before you make your journey, and avoid traveling during the worst of the weather if you can
  • Take extra care when driving while it’s still dark in areas that you know have flooded or been affected by severe weather on previous occasions, and please don’t ignore diversion and road closure signs
  • Be alert to the danger posed by debris, including branches and slates, that may have blown into the roadway.
  • Remember, wind rarely blows steadily, and a sudden gust can catch out even the most experienced driver
  • High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather, but strong gusts can also blow a car, cyclist or motorcyclist off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges or gaps in hedges
  • In very windy weather your vehicle may be affected by turbulence created by large vehicles. Motorcyclists are particularly affected, so keep well back from them when they are overtaking a high-sided vehicle

Fire service backs blood donor drive

Our staff took time out from their day jobs to sign up as blood donors to support NHS Blood and Transplant’s ‘Blood Doesn’t Grow on Trees’ campaign.

NHS Blood and Transplant is using the campaign to highlight the need to for new and existing blood donors across the North of England to step up and donate to keep blood stocks in hospitals healthy.

Amanda Eccles, Senior Marketing Coordinator, said: “We are delighted that South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is supporting blood donation. We always need new people in South Yorkshire to start donating blood to ensure that stocks across the country are healthy now and in the future. I hope that people will be inspired to donate with the knowledge that their donations save lives and that it is an easy thing to do.”

Although overall blood use within the NHS has reduced thanks to improvements in clinical and surgical practices, hospitals and patients still rely on more than 6,000 people attending a donation session every day across England and North Wales.

Blood is required to treat patients for a whole range of reasons. It is used in accident and emergency situations, during surgery and in maternity and neonatal care when either mum or baby need blood. It is also used as a treatment for cancer and for blood disorders, such as sickle cell anaemia.

You can register as a donor, find out whether there is a session coming up in your area and book an appointment to donate whenever and wherever you are through www.blood.co.uk or by using the app on your Android, Windows or Apple device. To download an app for your device, search ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the app store.

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.

Youth project helps curb Sheffield arson

A partnership youth project has helped turn around anti-social behaviour on one of Sheffield’s toughest estates.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has worked with partners including Salvation Army and South Yorkshire Police to deliver a 10 week youth club project on the Badger Estate, Woodhouse.

The scheme sees youngsters meet once a week to take part in physical activities like football, basketball and dodgeball, as well as educational sessions around first aid, road safety and the consequences of anti-social behaviour.

The scheme runs from January to March each year, when the number of alternative, positive activities available to youngsters in the area is normally at its lowest.

It’s had a big effect, cutting fires by a third. The number of anti-social behaviour fires in south east Sheffield fell from 52 in 2013 to 35 this year.

SYFR arson reduction officer Steve Vinson, said: “We can’t say that this project alone has led to the big reductions in anti-social behaviour, but we are convinced that engaging with young people in this way is one of the best ways of building lasting, positive relationships which have long term benefits for the communities we serve.

“It’s only by working together that public agencies can put together initiatives like this one and we are grateful to all the partners involved in helping us deliver these youth clubs for the third year running.”

It’s not just in south east Sheffield that fire service youth work is making an impact.

Arson in South Yorkshire has halved in the last three years, with the fire service crediting its ongoing community interventions with the big drop in anti-social behaviour incidents.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue attended 2,527 small, deliberate incidents like bin and grass fires in 2014/15- half the number it attended three years ago (5,082). Twelve years ago, in 2003/04, the figure was even higher- 11,303.

Recent initiatives held elsewhere in the county include a youth project held at Rotherham fire station, which aimed to highlight the consequences of anti-social behaviour and provide an intensive multi-agency work experience course to improve the life chances of the young people involved.

Arson cycle teams patrol known trouble spots during peak times of the year, speaking to youngsters about the consequences of arson.

Firefighters also deliver education packages to schools and safety teams visit youth clubs to deter fire setting.

For more information about the fire service’s work with young people, visit www.syfire.gov.uk

Fire service backs national dementia campaign

The fire service is calling on residents in South Yorkshire to check on older friends, relatives and neighbours who may suffer from memory loss, in a bid to cut house fires.

That’s the message as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue backs Dementia Awareness Week (17 to 23 May)- a national campaign which raises awareness of dementia and other illnesses that may incur memory loss.

Community safety staff are attending events across the county throughout the week, including dementia cafes and coffee mornings, meeting older people and offering them advice on preventing fires.

The fire service is also training dozens of its own staff to become Dementia Friends- a Government backed initiative which teaches people a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is also a member of the Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Alliance, which is committed to tackling the growing issue of dementia within our communities.

Vulnerable persons advocate Dianne Fox said: “People with memory loss issues can be more at risk of having a fire due to for example, forgetting that they have left a pan on the stove. They may then become confused by the smoke alarm sounding and make the wrong decision about what to do, therefore putting themselves in danger.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can offer a home safety check for people with memory issues. These checks can help people to live independently more safely by giving advice about fire safety and offering equipment solutions and support advice.

To access this service residents can call 0114 253 2314 and state that they have a memory issue or that they care for a person with a memory issue and that they would like to arrange a home safety check.

The fire service also offers free smoke alarm test reminders by email, text message or tweet. To sign-up, visit www.pressthebutton.co.uk

UK first fire funding scheme making thousands in South Yorkshire safer

A UK first fire service funding stream has made the lives of tens of thousands of South Yorkshire residents safer, a year after the first cash was handed out.

Around £500,000 was given to community groups, charities and other partners via South Yorkshire Fire Authority’s Safer Stronger Communities Reserve.

Under the groundbreaking scheme, groups were able to bid for as little as £5,000 or as much as £250,000 to support projects which reduce injuries, save lives and make South Yorkshire safer.

Key objectives for the fund include prioritising the most vulnerable, collaboration and data sharing. Highlights of the scheme which saw 19 different organisations receive money last year, included:

  • 3,000 baby room thermometers handed out to all expectant parents in Barnsley. The thermometers are specially designed to include display important messages about fire safety and smoke free homes, and could be adopted nationwide.
  • A cutting edge research project to help the fire service predict where fires are most likely to occur in the future. The research is being led by Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield
  • A Doncaster Council led ‘Fakes Cause Fires’ campaign which is using posters, videos and pocket sized information cards to educate residents about the fire dangers associated with buying counterfeit goods
  • Accessible training sessions, workbooks, DVDs and other educational resources suitable for people with learning difficulties and autism, developed by Rotherham charity Speakup Self Advocacy
  • Sprinklers for vulnerable older people at a sheltered housing complex in Barnsley. The potentially life saving systems were fitted at Churchfields, owned by Berneslai Homes

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Jim Andrews, said: “All the year one funded projects are excellent examples of how a small level of financial support from the Fire Authority can enable local communities to make a real difference in improving fire safety. The fund was heavily over-subscribed last year and the 19 projects the Authority gave money to really were the best of the best. It’s brilliant to now be able to see many of those funded projects making tens of thousands of local people safer.”

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “Fires have been falling steadily in South Yorkshire for many years and the county is safer now than it has been at any time in its history. But for as long as people continue to suffer the devastating effects of fires, there will always be more work to do.

“The best way for us to further reduce emergency incidents is to work with partners like those which have received funding over the last year. It’s these organisations which can help us reach the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Applications for a second round of funding have just closed, with decisions on the next batch of funded partners expected to be made in July. The £2 million fund has been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

“A particular focus for us in coming years is the wider positive impact the fire and rescue service can make in our communities, particularly in terms of improving people’s health and wellbeing. Many of the schemes we’ve already funded reflect this aspiration.”