Smaller fire engine arrives on South Yorkshire’s roads

A new, smaller fire engine will soon be responding to 999 calls for the very first time.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has spent more than a year working with contractors at Angloco Limited to develop a lighter, more agile fire appliance to attend incidents across the county. The appliance has been designed to keep the same functionality as a traditional fire engine, but to be easier to manoeuvre than the current larger appliances.

The smaller appliance will be able to respond to a wide range of incidents from grass and rubbish fires to large scale building fires and road traffic collisions. The engine will be staffed in the same way as the other fire engines already used by the service.

The appliance will carry all of the necessary equipment required to attend an incident, including two 22mm high pressure hose reels as well as a 10.5m triple extension ladder. Just like the larger appliances in use, there will also be four sets of breathing apparatus stowed in the vehicle.

It is estimated that the new smaller appliance is saving the service around £120,000 in running costs over its lifetime and is roughly £20,000 cheaper than the larger fire appliances.

Before going ‘on the run’, the vehicle will undergo a period of testing and evaluation on station with crews to identify any minor changes which need to be made. Training requirements will also be identified for the firefighters who will be driving the appliance.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tony Carlin said: “This next generation appliance has been designed using the expertise and knowledge of a number of firefighters and officers and we are very excited to be welcoming it into our service.

“We want to provide our staff with the best available equipment to be able to carry out their work and these new vehicles will give us a much more dynamic emergency response fleet. Not only this, but these vehicles cost the service less to buy and run, making the money of the people we serve go further.”

The fire engine will be initially attending emergency calls in Sheffield and Doncaster, where it will spend three months at each station. After this six month period, the service will collate any feedback from firefighters to make any required improvements before placing an order for several more.

House fires drop in South Yorkshire amid small arsons rise

House fires and false alarms dropped in South Yorkshire last year, a report to the fire service’s governing Fire Authority will say.

There were 72 fewer property fires, 59 less accidental house fires and 92 less automated fire alarms in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue also carried out more than 12,000 home safety checks, whereby fire service staff visit a person’s home to offer safety advice and fit smoke alarms where needed.

But there was a slight increase in fire deaths and serious injuries. With many of those dying aged over 60, the service recently launched its ‘Find The Time’ campaign which calls on those with older relatives or neighbours to take some simple steps to keep their loved ones safe.

There was also a big spike in small deliberate fires, like grass and rubbish fires, following one of the hottest summers in years. It’s prompted the service to ramp up its community work ahead of the warmer weather, including the delivery of a new joint anti-social behaviour schools education package alongside South Yorkshire Police.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “We’re pleased that our work to make people safer has contributed to a big drop in house fires. Much of it is down to the targeted approach of our firefighters and community safety teams in prioritising their work at those most at risk of fire.

“But we know there’s more to do, which is why we continue to call on partners to help us to help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, by becoming one of our referral partners.”

The figures are included in the service’s annual corporate performance report, which will be presented to the Fire Authority at its meeting on 24 June

Police and fire launch initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour

Efforts to curb anti-social behaviour in South Yorkshire will be boosted by the launch of a new schools education package to be jointly delivered by the police and fire services.

The ‘Equinox’ package has been developed by South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s joint community safety department and aims to provide young people with key safety messages relating to anti-social behaviour during the light night period.

Four new neighbourhood fire community safety officers will be delivering the package, which lasts around 30 minutes and is free of charge, to year 9 pupils across the county.

The presentation covers a range of unacceptable anti-social behaviour activities which may cause harm to an individual, the community or the environment and students will be informed of the potential consequences of such behaviour. This includes; arson, hoax calls, off road motor-biking and vandalism.

Head of the joint community safety department, Steve Helps said: “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.”

“Anti-social behaviour can put a big strain on local communities, so having packages like this available to schools will help to educate and inspire young people to make the correct life choices.”

The package will be offered to schools around South Yorkshire during the spring term as part of Operation Equinox, a joint police and fire initiative which aims to reduce anti-social behaviour during the spring and summer months.

Any schools requiring further information about the “Equinox” package or to book a session, please contact one of the team’s neighbourhood fire community safety officers;

Charlie Fox- 07717513071 sfox@syfire.gov.uk

Helen Woodacre -07771972600 hwoodacre@syfire.gov.uk

John Lamming- 07776225782 jlamming@syfire.gov.uk

Joe McCreesh- 07741195041 jmccreesh@syfire.gov.uk

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. 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 250 young people in two years.

The team also operates 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.

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.

Launch of new Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers

Earlier this month four new Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers joined the Joint Community Safety Department to work collaboratively with partners and assist in delivering fire safety and crime prevention advice to our local communities.

The Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers (NFCSO), who will work jointly across South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, as part of the collaboration programme between the organisations, will spend time co-located in the neighbourhood hubs, addressing local issues and reducing demand.

The new roles, funded by the Fire Authority’s Stronger and Safer Community Reserves (SSCR), will see the officers working with our local authority partners over the next three years to enhance and embed the work of the Community Safety Department through early intervention and effective problem solving approaches.

The specifics of this work will include identifying opportunities to work directly with members of the community to highlight the dangers of fires, provide support to vulnerable members of the community and raising awareness of the different services provided by the Joint Community Safety Department.

The officers will also work closely with representatives from Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham Councils, partner agencies, local community groups, and colleagues in emergency response roles, to embed multi-agency working, improve the services provided to our communities and reduce anti-social behaviour across South Yorkshire.

Head of the Joint Community Safety Department, Steve Helps, comments on the introduction of the new roles, “Our NFCSOs will be instrumental in providing support to vulnerable members of our local communities and in offering our services to those individuals we consider to be most at need.

“These officers will help us to do even more to reduce demand and better protect the communities we serve, allowing us to become even more targeted in what we do and the people we engage with.”

Matt Gillatt, Community Safety Department station manager, has also commented on the positive impact the new roles will have, “By working directly in the neighbourhood hubs, the new officers with be able to work in partnership with police and fire colleagues to target intervention activities in areas with high levels of reported anti-social behaviour and raise awareness of the dangers of arson.

“It will also allow them to work more closely with local councillors to provide assistance to vulnerable members of our communities and create closer links between fire crews and neighbourhood police officers, in order to improve the services we provide.”

This work forms part of the wider successful collaborative programme between South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, which launched in early 2017 to build on existing activities undertaken in collaboration between both organisations. The work within the programme 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 Estates and Facilities Management.

Firefighters tackle sign language training

A number of firefighters in South Yorkshire are now able to deliver vital safety advice to hard of hearing and deaf people thanks to students and tutors at Communication Specialist College Doncaster.

Crews in Doncaster have been learning basic British Sign Language (BSL) in order to improve their communication skills when attending incidents in their local communities.

Tutors tailored the sessions specifically to the needs of the fire service to include words and phrases that would be needed in the event of a fire.

To put their new skills to the test, crews also took part in a realistic fire exercise based in the residential facilities at the college. Students played a part in the scenario which saw firefighters having to communicate using BSL in order to direct students safely of out the building.

Station Manager Thomas Hirst said: “It can sometimes be harder for firefighters to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, particularly when in an emergency situation. Being able to communicate safety messages in a quick and concise manner when the time arises is vital, so learning some basic sign language skills in this way will be of huge benefit to crews.”

Fire Community Safety Officers have been visiting pupils at the college to deliver fire safety training sessions on what to do in the event of a fire and how to prevent one from occurring.

Stacey Betts, assistant principal at Communication Specialist College Doncaster, said: “We are really pleased to be working closely with the fire service and believe that this will be hugely beneficial to our students.

“We’ve helped to provide Deaf Awareness training to the team and they are helping our students become more aware of fire safety. This is a great example of how partnership working can benefit organisations.”

Fire safety information in British Sign Language can be accessed on South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s website here http://www.syfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/information-for-people-with-disabilities/

Firefighter provides fire safety education on trip to South Sudan

A firefighter from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has just returned back to the UK after spending two weeks improving fire safety in migrant camps in South Sudan.

Clare Holmes, a watch manager on Rotherham blue watch, was part of a team of six volunteers who were approached by the ‘Women in the Fire Service’ network to visit the camp, after a request they’d received from an aid charity.

During the two week trip, the team provided ‘train the trainer’ courses for United Nations (UN) camp staff which included community fire safety advice and burn and scald prevention information. Clare and the team also carried out a fire safety assessment of the camp, which is occupied by roughly 120,000 people.

Many camps in South Sudan can hold thousands of people living in makeshift accommodation in close proximity to one another, with schools, hospitals and markets all adding to the risk of fire.  As well as this, all cooking takes place on open fires and fire service response is limited.

Clare said: “The greatest risk in camps like the one we visited in South Sudan is during the dry season which runs from November to March, so it was important to put into place fire safety measures as soon as possible.

“The community were very receptive to our visit and found the training and advice very beneficial. The site staff that we trained will now be able to pass on fire safety guidance to thousands of people living in the camps and hopefully reduce the risk of a fire starting.

“I hope that our work can make the lives of the people we visited safer for years to come.”

The trip to South Sudan was supported by Fire Aid, a charity which provides donations of fire and rescue equipment and training to those in need of such assistance.

The charity recently visited South Sudan in March 2018 and identified a number of substantial fire risks including a lack of awareness of fire safety. It was from this that Women in the Fire Service were asked to request if any of their members could volunteer for a second visit to the country.

It is hoped there will be a follow up visit in 2019.

Fire crews carry out hazardous material training exercise

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue crews from the Barnsley District recently carried out an operational exercise at the Elsecar Heritage Centre in Elsecar.

The exercise was created to test the skills of crews when responding to an incident in which an unknown hazardous material is involved. Elsecar Heritage centre staff played a key role on the day by undertaking role play, allowing crews to deal with real-life casualties.

Delroy Galloway, station manager at Tankersley fire station, said: “Realistic training of this type allows crews to take part in training scenarios that prepare us for actual incidents in the future. This exercise was designed to improve operational effectiveness, firefighter safety and public safety and at times of heightened security.

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

This is the second exercise South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has undertaken at the site and other scenarios are being planned to allow crews to train in a realistic environment alongside personnel at the railway site.

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

 

Joint procurement venture saves fire services thousands

Fire and rescue services in South and West Yorkshire have saved the taxpayer thousands of pounds by working together to buy new rescue equipment to deal with road traffic collisions.

A contract of nearly £1.25 million has been awarded to Weber Rescue UK for the supply of new battery powered cutting equipment to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.

The joint procurement has saved both services time and money- but leaders say it will also make training and maintenance more efficient in the future.

A project team at South Yorkshire led on the process of procuring the equipment whilst team members at West Yorkshire directed the research and development phase of the project.

The specialist cutting gear is to be used primarily at road traffic collisions to safely remove casualties from vehicles. The new equipment will replace old cutting gear within each service and by January 2019, it is expected that all appliances at both services will be modified to include the new battery powered rescue equipment.

Having a standardised provision in cutting gear across both services will ensure that rescue equipment is compatible when crews attend over-the-border incidents. All firefighters at both services will be trained in using the equipment, enabling more efficient and effective working between the two services at incidents within each county.

The new pieces of equipment also bring operational benefits such as an improved cutting force and a longer run time helping to reduce the time to gain access to people who are trapped and injured.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “This is a great investment in standardising operational equipment and will undoubtedly improve our response to rescue incidents. By collaborating on projects such as this with our neighbouring services presents us with a great opportunity to provide a more effective and efficient service to the people we serve.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer John Roberts, said: “We are continually looking at how we can work closely with our partners and neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services. This is a great example of how this approach can work to everyone’s advantage, saving the taxpayer money, reducing the time and effort spent on research and ensuring that when we do respond to emergencies we can work more closely than ever by virtue of carrying identical equipment.”

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd, said “This kind of collaboration is great to see and the results are clear – it saves time for firefighters and saves money for taxpayers.

“We have been clear that joint working between fire and rescue services on procurement makes economic and operational sense. It can drive down prices and improves the service they provide for the public.”

“I commend the fire chiefs in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire for this project, and hope that this kind of closer working will become more widespread across our fire and rescue services.”

The joint procurement project comes following the publication of procurement data information in 2016 by the Home Office. The report found that fire and rescue services were paying similar prices for equipment but purchasing separately, despite financial and operational benefits of buying together.

Fire and rescues services in the UK are now being encouraged to do more collaboratively to drive down the amount spent on essential goods such as frontline equipment and workwear.

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 also received Royal Assent on 31 January last year, placing a new statutory duty on emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

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 http://www.syfire.gov.uk/find-a-job/volunteering/ or get in touch with us on volunteers@syfire.gov.uk

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.