Kind hearted fire volunteer comes to aid of stricken roadside couple

A volunteer at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has been thanked for her actions after helping an elderly couple when their car broke down on a busy main road in blistering heat.

Andy Swarek, who has been volunteering within the service for six months, was on her way home from an event in Conisbrough when she came across the elderly couple who appeared to be stranded at the side of the road.

Mavis and George White, both in their late 70’s, had broken down on a busy road in Doncaster and had been told there was a four hour wait for a recovery vehicle. Despite the soaring temperatures, Mavis and George stood for 90 minutes with jump leads at the ready in the hope that a bystander would come to their aid.

After having been passed by hundreds of motorists, it was Andy that eventually pulled over to help jump start the couple’s car.

Mavis and George said: “As we weren’t registered with a breakdown company we weren’t a priority and feared we’d be sat there for the full four hours we’d been quoted. Andy stopped, was extremely polite and even offered us some water. She was kind and patient and was sympathetic to our situation even though she probably just wanted to get home. Andy went above and beyond and is a credit to the fire service as a volunteer.”

Andy said: “I’d been sat in tailback traffic for about 15 minutes when I saw George stood by his car with one of the jump leads in his hand and the other connected to his car. Whilst other motorists seemed to be simply driving by, I pulled over to help. As soon as I stopped they both seemed to be very relieved to see me.”

Mavis and George’s daughter, Rebecca White, contacted the fire service to pass on her thanks to Andy. She said: “It might just be a jump start and a drink to some people but to my parents in their late 70’s this meant the world. Andy is a huge credit to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and our faith in humanity has been restored because of her actions.”

Andy is a volunteer cadet instructor within the service. Her role involves working with 13-18 year olds, teaching them about the importance of fire safety including various firefighting skills and techniques.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a volunteer at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, visit our website or get in touch with us on

Cutlers’ success for fire service with double award win

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has scooped two gongs at the Cutlers’ Company Police and Fire Service annual awards.

Station Manager Chris Mee took home the individual prize for his achievements in providing realistic fire training to firefighters.

The training, developed in partnership with Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes, involved the lighting of real fires within soon to be demolished residential properties, providing firefighters with realistic training scenarios.

Due to its success, the project has been widely discussed up and down the UK as a potential opportunity for other fire and rescue services to explore. Thus far, over 150 South Yorkshire operational staff members have gained valuable realistic experience from these exercises.

The service’s Business Fire Safety team were recognised for their local work in response to the Grenfell Tower disaster. Alongside carrying out usual business fire safety activities, the team coordinated and undertook fire safety audits at 43 Local Authority High Rise residential buildings and 44 at privately owned high rise buildings within South Yorkshire, met with hundreds of residents and delivered specialist training to firefighters.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson said: “We strive to be the best at everything we do, so these award wins are a fantastic achievement for the fire service and provide well deserved recognition for the hard and varied work our staff do on a daily basis to keep the public of South Yorkshire safe.”

The awards, which took place in the Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield, were presented by the Master Cutler, Ken Cooke.

Crews issue safety warning following battery blaze

Firefighters are warning the public about the potential dangers posed by purchasing unbranded electrical goods on the internet after an incident in which a battery bought online caught fire.

Crews from Elm Lane, Rotherham and Parkway green watch recently attended the incident in Kimberworth, Rotherham. Upon arrival crews found that the battery, which was for a head torch, had set alight whilst on charge and the fire had quickly spread to the kitchen units. This had caused a large amount of smoke logging in the property, damaging the hallway and stairway.

Luckily, the property had two new working smoke alarms which had been fitted by the fire service and they successfully alerted the occupier, who was sat in the rear garden at the time, to the fire.

Firefighters used a hose reel and breathing apparatus to extinguish the flames and also ventilated the property.

Upon leaving, crews ensured the two smoke alarms that had sounded were replaced with new alarms.

There are some simple things you can do to prevent electrical fires. For example:

  • Don’t buy cheap, unbranded chargers and make sure chargers or other electrical items are compatible to the device you are using
  • Don’t leave things to charge overnight or beyond the recommended charging time. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep electrical items away from flammable materials when charging
  • Don’t overload sockets– long, strip adaptors are safest, but can only take a total of 13 amps

South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue sign joint collaboration agreement

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, have today signed the joint collaboration agreement to outline the terms and vision of the collaborative work between the organisations.

The strategic agreement formalises the roles, responsibilities, aims and objectives of the partnership to build on the existing and effective collaborations achieved so far.

The successful collaboration programme between South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue was launched to build on and develop existing and future activities undertaken in collaboration between both organisations.

This programme, which began in early 2017, has already led to the creation of a Joint Police and Fire Station in Maltby, Rotherham, the development of a Joint Community Safety Department and the appointment of a Head of Joint Vehicle Fleet Management and Head of Joint Estates and Facilities Management.

This collaborative work continues to grow and develop and will see the organisations co-operating together to carry out joint public service functions, identify solutions and enable sharing of best practice.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Stephen Watson said: “This collaboration between South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue will ensure that we can give the best possible service to the public, in a cost effective way. We have successfully worked in collaboration with the fire service for a number of years and this agreement now formalises that activity. “

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Chris Lamb, said: “The Fire Authority and its members fully support the provision of a strong fire and rescue service, including the pursuit of close working with other emergency services where there is a clear benefit to local people. We hope that the signing of this agreement will help to continue our strong progress in this area.”

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “Whilst there is now a legal duty on all emergency services to work more closely together, for us the real benefits of collaboration with the police, ambulance and other fire services are to the communities we serve. Whilst we still believe each of the emergency services should retain their own unique skills, brand and specialisms, we want to show local people that we are serious about providing them with the most efficient and most effective services possible. The signing of this agreement helps to demonstrate our commitment to that goal.”

Dr Alan Billings South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I very much welcome this Collaboration Agreement as a first step in greater working together.

“The motivation is to make for more effective working together; but it will also enable savings to be made, as in the case of some joint appointments.

“I am sure the public will support bringing these two vital public services together to make South Yorkshire a safer place.”

Water safety warning as heat wave continues

Firefighters are urging the public not to swim in lakes and reservoirs, with the current hot weather in South Yorkshire set to continue.

Safety officers say people should avoid open water- like rivers and lakes- because such areas are not designed for swimming as the water is often deeper, colder and faster than expected.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. People should enjoy water safely in swimming pools or safer, specialist facilities instead.

Head of Community Safety Simon Dunker, said: “We often receive 999 calls during the summer months about people getting into difficulty in water. It’s only a matter of time before someone’s safety is really put at risk unless people listen to our advice.

“We understand it can be tempting to cool off when the weather in South Yorkshire is so hot, but stick to a swimming pool. Rivers, lakes or flooded quarries are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.”

The dangers of open water are:

  • The water can be much deeper than you expect
  • Rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs are much colder than you think, rarely reaching temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius in the UK
  • Open water can carry water borne diseases, like Weils disease
  • Cold water dramatically affects your ability to swim
  • There may be hidden currents, which can pull you under the water
  • You don’t know what lies beneath, like pieces of rubbish or reeds which can trap or injure you

Long serving South Yorkshire firefighters honoured

More than 20 long serving firefighters, 999 operators and support staff have been honoured at a special ceremony in Sheffield.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue staged the event at Sheffield City Hall to recognise staff members who have clocked up more than 20 years serving local people.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney and Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Andrew Coombe presented the fire service Long Service & Good Conduct Medal to recipients in front of their family and friends. The medal was instituted by Her Majesty the Queen by Royal Warrant in 1954. It is awarded to employees who complete 20 years of meritorious service.

A special award was also presented to communications electrician Francis Delez who, with an incredible 51 years’ service behind him, is the fire service’s longest serving employee.

Group manager Trevor Bernard was given the honour of master of ceremonies, before he retires from the service next month.

Speaking at the event, Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “We aspire to make South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue a great place to work, which includes recognising the efforts and achievements of our staff. As Chief Fire Officer, I therefore feel extremely proud to see so many members of our organisation recognised for the outstanding service they have given over the last twenty years or more.

“The role of a firefighter and the role of fire service has changed considerably in that time. Our responsibilities now go far beyond simply tackling fires. But one thing that will always remain the same is the pride which we all have in doing a job that can make such a positive difference in the communities we serve.”

Fire station hosts community cycle course

Bike mad kids in Doncaster can pedal proficiently thanks to fire station hosted cycle safety sessions.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has teamed up with Doncaster Council to deliver the sessions at Thorne fire station, which proved to be a popular venue for the cycling course.

The fire station’s yard provided a safe environment to carry out the cycling lessons, which aim to increase the road safety knowledge of those who attend.

The ‘Bikeability’ course is facilitated by Pedal Ready Cycle Training and is open to individuals of all ages who are looking to either improve their current cycling ability or learn to ride a bike for the very first time. The course focuses on developing observation and manoeuvrability skills and provides an introduction to the Highway Code for young cyclists. Safety is also a main feature of the course and those who attend receive advice on how to be noticeable when riding on the roads as well as the importance of correctly fitting a cycle helmets.

Station Manager Mike Anthony, who has been working on this project, said: “We are looking to expand the involvement of fire crews in local community projects such as Bikeability. By using our stations for projects like this, we are able to improve safety within our communities and we hope that the sessions at Thorne fire station are to be the first of many.”

Andy Maddox, Business Development Officer for Doncaster Council, said: “We are delighted to support this project as we are keen to encourage more people into cycling more often. This scheme helps to facilitate this. The first session was very well attended and we look forward to a summer presence in Thorne.”

Pedal Ready Cycle provides free cycle training across the Doncaster area as well as Sheffield and Rotherham.  If you’d like to find out more, email or phone 0114 241 2775.

Fire service offers rough sleepers a place to stay in new cold weather partnership

The fire service will be once again be opening its doors to rough sleepers ahead of winter weather this weekend, in a new partnership to help those on the streets or at risk of being on the streets in Sheffield.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s headquarters on Eyre Street will be converted into a place to stay on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night for people at risk of sleeping rough in the cold weather.

British Red Cross volunteers will also be on hand to welcome people and provide hot drinks and snacks, with Framework’s Street Outreach Team and Sheffield City Council’s Housing Solutions service helping people to access accommodation and support.

During the winter, Sheffield City Council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, known locally as Weather Watch, in response to the potential risk to life when the weather is very cold.

Area Manager Tony Carlin, said: “Helping people in need and saving lives is core to our mission as a fire service, so it made perfect sense for us to answer the call for emergency accommodation ahead of winter warnings this weekend.

“This initiative provides comfort, warmth and shelter for rough sleepers and the homeless and is a clear example of public agencies working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in our area.”

“We intend to repeat this next winter and during any other spells of particularly severe weather as we continue to do what we can as a fire service to make our communities safer.”

Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “It’s important to us, particularly with the recent cold temperatures that we have seen over the last week or so, that extra care and shelter is provided for those most in need in the city. I’m grateful to all of the partners involved in this initiative who have planned, organised and worked together to make this happen in Sheffield for those who are most vulnerable.”

“We’re hoping that those who have been less likely to come indoors in the past will recognise how much they can benefit from taking us up on our offer of support in the future.”

Joe Tilston, British Red Cross Senior Emergency Response Officer for Yorkshire said: “We have responded to a request from Sheffield City Council alongside South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to support at a scheme providing emergency shelter to the homeless in the city this week.

“British Red Cross volunteers and staff are providing practical and emotional support, including the provision of hot food and drinks, and signposting service users to longer-term support where needed.

“We continue to be on standby to provide support to people affected by the weather conditions across the North of England, working alongside local authorities and the emergency services.”

Every week early morning outreach sessions take place in Sheffield to identify and support people who are sleeping rough.

As well as support with accommodation, Sheffield has a number of services which offer practical help and advice to rough sleepers.

This includes drop in services offering food, clothing, showers and laundry facilities as well as access to healthcare professionals and recovery support There are also services commissioned by Sheffield City Council, as well as local charities and voluntary organisations providing practical assistance, plus housing advice and support.

For more information about help for rough sleepers visit the Sheffield City Council website. or Help Us Help.

Water rescue dogs join South Yorkshire firefighters in training

Firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have teamed up with some clever canines to showcase their water rescue skills at Rother Valley Reservoir.

Three Newfoundlands and one Leonberger scent dog from Pete Lewin Newfoundlands charity joined Edlington and Aston Park crews for the training exercise. Firefighters carried out a number of water rescue techniques incorporating the dogs, testing the manoeuvres and skills the dogs have when rescuing people in dangerous water situations.

The specialist training session was created to provide crews with an opportunity to further their knowledge and work with water rescue dogs. It allowed them to see the capabilities that the dogs have and the way that they work, which is something that has never been done before within the service.

Station Manager, Chris Lally said, “Water rescue is a core area in which a select number of our firefighters specialise in. Any opportunity we get to explore new and advanced ways of carrying out this function is always welcomed within the service.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. It is essential to be aware of the hidden dangers that rivers, lakes and reservoirs can present.”

Pete Lewin, Paramedic and founder of Pete Lewin Newfoundlands, said: “As a small team of like minded people we go all around the country to emergency services shows. We have developed various manoeuvres for getting people out of the water with the dogs. Over the past eight years we have been looking into rescue work with these powerful and amazing animals and have trained with a number of fire and rescue services throughout the country.

We would like to thank South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for inviting us to Rother Valley and for giving us the opportunity to train with the crews.”

Pete Lewin Newfoundlands is a not-for-profit, voluntary organisation that uses Newfoundland dogs to help promote water safety and deliver water safety workshops to schools and other groups. The dogs are also used for emotional support swims for people suffering with stress related problems.

The Newfoundland dog is traditionally a large, strong breed of working dog. With webbed feet and a very muscular build, they are regularly used for water rescue and lifesaving. The dogs from Pete Lewin Newfoundlands are trained by their owners and used for exercises and training on a voluntary basis. They hope that in the future, these dogs could operate and work alongside agencies involved in search and rescue.

Fire crews carry out rescue from height training exercise

South Yorkshire’s fire crews have taken part in a realistic, rope rescue exercise to test their response in the event of a major height rescue incident.

The exercise was simulated to test the emergency planning and training procedures in place at Tween Bridge Wind Farm in Doncaster. It specifically focused on dealing with emergency scenarios in which a casualty is suspended at height.

The first scenario of the day involved the complex rescue of a casualty who was suspended 25 metres up a turbine on a ladder. The second scenario involved crews lowering a casualty from the top of an 80 metre turbine using a stretcher. Crews from Thorne and Dearne fire stations worked together to successfully carry out each rope rescue.

The site manager from Tween Bridge, alongside two maintenance operators and two external rope rescue instructors were also involved in the exercise.

Darren Robertson, station manager at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, said: “Firefighters respond to a huge range of emergencies, far beyond the house fires and road traffic collisions we are traditionally associated with. Rescues from height can be extremely complex, which is what makes training like this so important. Both scenarios were successfully completed and generated a great deal of operational learning.”

Richard Couzens, Regional Production Manager at Tween Bridge Wind Farm, said: “Emergency planning and training is of paramount importance not only at E.ON but throughout the wind industry. Even minor injuries can quickly escalate into more challenging situations when you take into account the fact that the casualty is at great height above ground level and in need of assistance.

It is only through working with local fire and rescue crews and specialist rope rescue teams that we can increase familiarisation around our working environment. We are incredibly grateful to the local teams for taking time out to join us for the training activity and share their knowledge and experience in this area.”

This recent exercise formed part of an ongoing aim at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to continually improve emergency response procedures to incidents that aren’t just fires.

Tween Bridge is one of E.ONs many onshore wind farms across the UK and is home to 22 turbines.