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 admin@pedalready.co.uk 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.

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.