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.

New fire and police station in Maltby goes live

South Yorkshire’s only joint fire and police station has gone operational for the first time.

Firefighters have started attending 999 calls from the station in Maltby, Rotherham after work to modify the existing police station on Byford Road to accommodate fire service vehicles and staff was completed last month. The old fire station on Maltby High Street has now closed.

The project won Government Transformation Funding of £560,000 and means South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can share running costs, enabling funding to be targeted at frontline services.

The move has shifted fire service resources around a mile closer to the east side of Rotherham, which traditionally accounts for a greater volume of emergency incidents compared to lower risk areas to the east of Maltby.

It will also improve services by making it easier for police and firefighters to share knowledge, skills and expertise when tackling common issues, like anti-social behaviour and road traffic collisions. In a similar way, it will help both organisations to reach the most vulnerable members of the community.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “This new facility is the first of its kind in South Yorkshire and represents the best possible, physical example of our commitment to work more closely with our emergency service partners. By working alongside each other under one roof, we think the move will benefit both organisations by improving how we work together to solve problems we both face, which can only help to improve the quality of the service we offer to local people.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “The Fire Authority has always been clear that collaboration should be about more than badges on buildings and saving money, with local people at the heart of any of the decisions we make. With this in mind, I am pleased to see the completion of the first joint police and fire station in South Yorkshire- not just as a symbol of the joint work the fire service is leading on with the police, but also because of the benefits I expect it to bring to both organisations and the community itself.”

Chief Superintendent Rob Odell, district commander for Rotherham, said: “I’ve no doubt that this joint venture will help us to provide a more coordinated service to the public, particularly on issues dealt with by both services. This provides us with an excellent opportunity to better share information and to help meet the demands of modern policing, where working alongside our partners is vital in meeting the needs of our communities.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “The joint fire and police station at Maltby offers a number of positive opportunities for the police and fire services to work together and collaborate. This new cost-effective way of working will allow agencies to share information and work more effectively together. The building will help reduce overheads to both organisations at a time when, the taxpayers want to see their money being spent on the safety of South Yorkshire residents and not on buildings and their running costs.”

The Policing & Crime Act 2016 has 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.

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 Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team has been set up in Sheffield which sees fire and police staff visit hundreds of homes in the city to reduce fire risk in properties, improve security and help people who have fallen and contribute to reducing the risk of falls.

Lifewise is an interactive safety centre which is jointly run by the police and fire services and opened in 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year.

Work is also underway to improve the way the police and fire services work together in several other areas, including their community safety and prevention work.

Fire crews carry out major rail incident training exercise

South Yorkshire’s fire crews have taken part in a dramatic steam train themed training exercise to test their response to an incident at Heritage railway.

Exercise Thomas was simulated to test the work that the Elsecar Heritage Railway train guard, rail incident officer and other crew members would carry out in the event of a major incident. It specifically focused on the station’s procedures for contacting the emergency services and for dealing with an incident prior to and during the arrival of the fire service.

The exercise involved a car that had crossed the railway line at Elsecar station and had been struck by a moving train.

Two heavy rescue pumps from Tankersley and Adwick stations were involved in the exercise. Crews from Tankersley white watch and Adwick red watch worked together to remove a number of casualties from the train, including a 27 stone training dummy to simulate a bariatric rescue. Personnel from Cudworth station red watch also performed rescues from the car and assisted with the hour long scenario.

A number of trainee forward liaison officers from Barnsley District Council attended the exercise and have requested to be involved in other similar training exercises.

Andrew Littlewood, Trustee at Heritage Railway said: “We are always happy to work in conjunction with our emergency services. We trust that South Yorkshire Fire Service benefitted from the experience.”

Delroy Galloway, station manager at Tankersley fire station, said: “The exercise was a huge success and allowed all those who participated to further understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a major incident.

“Exercise Thomas formed part of an ongoing aim to continually improve major emergency response procedures and i would like to thank everyone who took part.”

Elsecar Heritage Railway runs steam hauled trains and diesel locomotives for members of the public on a regular basis.

Young people graduate from life changing police and fire led course

Eleven young people have successfully graduated from the Prince’s Trust Team Programme having completed a challenging 12 week programme.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP) teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Prince’s Trust Team Programme. Team is a 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

The young people have all been thrown out of their comfort zone during the last few weeks, participating in a week-long residential in the Peak District, transforming the Swinton Lock area as part of their community project and learning new skills in individual work placements.

The graduation which was held at Rotherham Town Hall was a celebration of all their hard work and efforts. It was attended by their friends and family as well as local dignitaries.

SYFR Team Leader Rhian Oxley said; “I am so proud of this group, throughout the last 12 weeks they have really strived to achieve their best. Team Programme is about more than simply boosting young people’s employment skills. It gives them hope, confidence and the opportunity to make a difference. We wish them all the luck for their future.”

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps said: “The last 12 weeks have been about building the confidence of these young people and equipping them with the skills qualifications and experience to find employment and build better lives for themselves. From classes in CV building to work placements we have been able to offer participants crucial skills and insights they otherwise may never have experienced. I am truly proud of the role the fire service has played in helping these young people aspire to a better future.”

SYP Chief Inspector Jenny Lax said; “The team programme is about giving young people confidence and skills to find employment or get back into education. They have to commit to the full 12 weeks, but in return they meet new friends, boost their confidence and take part in work experience and a residential trip. Well done to everybody that has graduated from this latest programme, and if anybody is thinking about joining up to the next one, go for it you won’t regret it!’

Would you like to be part of the next Team Programme?  We are now recruiting for the Sheffield and Barnsley programmes, to be part of the Team or for further details contact the team leaders John Daley on 07769 887249 or Rhian Oxley on 07919 565122 or email princestrust@syfire.gov.uk

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue scoop double award win

Staff members of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue are celebrating after picking up two awards at the Cutlers’ Company Police and Fire Service annual awards.

The fire service received both the individual and group awards in recognition of exemplary service for the second year running. 

Watch Manager Nicola Hobbs won the individual prize for her involvement and impact on the diverse communities of South Yorkshire, going above and beyond her role. She has been instrumental in supporting the Fire Cadet programme throughout the seven cadet branches in South Yorkshire and has been heavily involved with the Prince’s Trust and the Cutlers Better Learners, Better Workers programme. Nicola donated her £250 cash prize to Sheena Amos Youth Trust.

Community Fire Safety Officers and the High Risk Coordination Team took home the group award for their service to the people of South Yorkshire. The team fits tens of thousands of smoke alarms each year, helping to reduce the number of accidental dwelling fires in the homes of some of the most vulnerable people in society. They donated their £250 cash prize to Barnsley Animal Rescue.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Martin Blunden said: “These award wins are a great achievement for the fire service and provide well deserved recognition for the hard and varied work our staff do to keep the public of South Yorkshire safe.” 

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