Fire service steps up as part of national water safety week

Local firefighters will be visiting lakes and reservoirs across the county next week, commencing Monday 17 June, as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue turns its attention to water safety and drowning prevention.

The work comes as the service gives its backing to a national Drowning Prevention Week – which is being spearheaded by The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK).

Collectively SYFR, and RLSS UK, want to try and reduce the 700 drownings that occur across the UK and Ireland each year.

During the course of the week crews will be visiting water sites that they have previously attended, and that have been identified by the public through an online campaign.

Whilst there they will be identifying any potential risks and outlining what preventative measures could be put in place at each location.

Station Manager Tom Hirst, who has been organising the service’s activity, is hoping that the work being done will help make South Yorkshire’s water sites safer for local people.

“Water rescues are one of the many incident types we attend and, sadly, we’ve had a number of calls in recent years where people have drown in open bodies of water,” he said.

“Even in hot weather, when people start to get attracted to lakes and reservoirs, water can be freezing cold and, as such, extremely dangerous.

“Our ambition is to try and stop drownings altogether but, of course, that will require a strong collective effort. That work starts this week.

“We’ve got a long list of sites, right across the county, that we’ll be visiting – and risk assessing. We can then identify places that might benefit from things such as security fencing, floatation equipment and warning signage.”

As well as being supported by local crews, the service’s community safety teams will be visiting local schools and youth groups to explain the dangers of playing in, or near, water.

“Our advice for the public, especially with summer coming, is to just be extra careful around open water. Unless you’re part of an authorised open water swimming group, keep out of it.

“Even if it looks nice and appealing, you have no idea how cold it is, what lies beneath the water or indeed what water borne bacteria and diseases might be in the water itself.”

According to officers, the dangers of unauthorised swimming in open water include it being much deeper and colder than people might think, the presence of diseases and bacteria in the water and the stuff – such as trollies, weeds and hidden currents – that might lie beneath.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has recently launched its new ‘Float To Live’ campaign, which encourages anyone who gets caught in open water to fight the urge to swim and focus on floating until help arrives.

Aston Park crew finds the time for older residents

Older people from in and around the Aston area attended a special open day, held at their local fire station, earlier this week.

The event, which took place on Tuesday 21 May, saw over 20 people given specific advice and guidance on how they can stay safe from fire, and other risks, in their homes – over tea and scones.

This advice came from various different agencies – including South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, as well as the fire service.

The event was delivered in line with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s latest safety campaign, Find The Time, and included a slipper swap, with each of the attendees being given a brand new pair of non-slip slippers in exchange for their old ones.

Home safety checks, for after the event, were also organised for the attendees.

“The feedback from the event was really positive, so much so that we’ve been asked to run another event later in the year,” said Aston Park Station Manager Gavin Jones, who organised the open day.

“Not only did all of the attendees enjoy it, and have an opportunity to socialise and meet new people, but collectively we hope that the safety advice, the new slippers and a chair based exercise session that was also delivered will make these people safer, happier and healthier.

“I’d like to thank all those who attended and, of course, everyone who helped run the event.”

Fire and Police join forces on water rescue training

Six police officers from South Yorkshire have received specialist water rescue training thanks to a unique collaboration with the fire service’s specialist training school.

The ‘water rescue champions’ from South Yorkshire Police recently completed a water rescue first responder course delivered by expert trainers at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue. The course provided the officers with basic water rescue skills and awareness that they can use when they are first on scene to a water related emergency situation.

The two day course, which took place in Wales, covered a number of simple rescue techniques such as; a tethered swim, the use of throwlines, wading techniques, understanding the dangers of water and the use of water rescue gear.

Station Manager at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, Darren Robertson said: “Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. By working closely with our partner agencies and sharing skills and knowledge through training, we can work towards reducing these numbers.

“Not only does collaborating on training like this save both services and the public money, but it also ensures we are delivering the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire.”

As a result of the training, South Yorkshire Police have also purchased a number of throwlines to keep in patrol vehicles in case of a water rescue emergency.

Inspector at South Yorkshire Police, Alan McFarlane said: “The preservation of life is the most important duty the police have. The Rotherham district contains a number of bodies of open water, including Manvers Lake, where there have sadly been a number of drownings over the years.

“In order to increase the police’s ability to act effectively in open-water emergencies, the Rotherham District has purchased a number of throw-bag rescue aids to be carried in patrol cars.

“Having a number of officers trained in basic water rescue means they can now share this water awareness knowledge with other officers in the force.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue which will improve our capabilities, coordination with the fire service and ultimately help to keep the people of South Yorkshire safe.”

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.

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
  • 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

Fire service seeks views from public on draft plans

The fire service is calling on people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how it plans to meet a financial shortfall of up to £4million.

Draft plans considered by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s governing Fire Authority last month propose reducing the number of firefighters on a fire engine from five to four.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says the only alternative to making the change- which has already been adopted by many other services nationwide- is to reduce the speed of its 999 response during the night time period from up to half of its fire stations.

The organisation faces cost pressures of up to £4 million, due to no longer being able to use a way of staffing fire stations called Close Proximity Crewing and because it may have to meet a significant, national shortfall in pension contributions.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “We’d rather not make any changes at all, but have a duty to match our resources to local risk and to manage the service in a financially responsible way.

“We face cost pressures of up to £4 million and the extent of the savings required is inevitably going to mean changes to the way we provide our 999 service to the public.

“We think it is better to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine, than it is to slow down our response times to some of our communities by reducing the number of fire engines which are immediately available.

“Now we are publishing our draft plans and invite the public to share their views on them.”

All fire and rescue authorities must provide a plan which sets out the steps they will take and resources they need to deliver public safety, reduce fires and save lives. This is known as an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). It must be publicly available, reflect consultation with stakeholders and demonstrate the most up-to-date analysis of local risk.

People can share their views via an online survey, at www.syfire.gov.uk/haveyoursay, or in writing to IRMP Consultation, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, 197 Eyre Street, Sheffield S1 3FG. The consultation will run for 12-weeks, across May, June, July and August.

Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.

Have your say – public consultation

We’re calling on people across South Yorkshire to have their say on how we plan to meet a four million pound financial shortfall.

We currently face cost pressures of up to £4million, due to no longer being able to use a way of staffing our fire stations called Close Proximity Crewing, and because we might have to meet a significant, national shortfall in pension contributions.

Our proposals, which are outlined in our draft Integrated Risk Management Plan, were considered by our governing Fire Authority last month.

The key proposal within this plan is to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine from five to four, in order to maintain the number of fire engines we have available 24/7 across the county.

This is a change that has already been adopted by many services across the country and we would rather so this than reduce the speed of our 999 response, during the night, at up to half of our fire stations.

In making this change we would review our existing procedures to ensure the safety of our firefighters and, importantly, would continue to commit breathing apparatus wearers to house fires regardless of whether we have a five or four person crew – with other fire engines providing back-up as needed.

We’re now publishing our draft plans, which you can see via the link above, and want you to have your say via the survey below. The consultation will run for 12-weeks, across May, June, July and August.

Before filling out the survey – we have published a series of Frequently Asked Questions that outline why we need to make these savings, what else we’ve done to save money, why we can’t use our reserves and more.

This form collects some personal information – which will be used for monitoring purposes only, to ensure we capture views from people across the whole of South Yorkshire. By sending us a completed form you are agreeing for your data to be used in this way. More information on data sharing and protection can be found here.

IRMP Consultation - 2019

  • Your Details

  • Your Views

Hundreds made safer thanks to fire-funded sprinkler project

Some of the most vulnerable people in Barnsley are now safer than ever in their homes, thanks to sprinklers that have been part-funded by the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority.

In total 163 flats have been fitted with the life-saving devices across six independent living complexes – all of which are run by Berneslai Homes.

The housing provider was awarded £240,000 from the Fire Authority’s sprinkler fund to match fund the project – which now means 200 more people have the highest level of fire protection available.

A number of personal protection systems and kitchen suppression units – which detect and extinguish fires with a fine water mist – have also been match funded by the Authority.

The purchasing of these extra devices, which will be installed in certain homes where tenants are identified as extremely vulnerable, demonstrates the service’s commitment to safeguarding the most vulnerable in South Yorkshire.

“Sprinklers are a reliable and cost-effective way of stopping fires from growing and spreading,” said South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s sprinkler advocate, Roger Brason.

“In most cases, they actually put them out completely, so we’re really pleased that all of these homes have had them installed and even more pleased that we’ve been able to help provide some personal protection systems to help safeguard the most vulnerable.”

The sprinklers were fitted within the following independent living complexes:

  • Church Street Close, Thurnscoe
  • Hudson Haven, Wombwell
  • King Street Flats, Barnsley
  • Pendon House, Penistone
  • Saville Court, Hoyland
  • Shipcroft, Wombwell

Berneslai Homes’ Fire Safety Officer, Kerry Storrar, added: “Thank you to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority for their funding to fit these life saving devices.

“The sprinklers give our tenants the highest level of protection and over the coming year we’re hoping to fit sprinklers in other buildings.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve that is made up of money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

More information is available on www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.

Fire deaths prompt new fire safety campaign

A new fire safety campaign is being launched across the county today, Monday 1 April, following a series of recent fatal fires involving people over 60-years-old.

As part of the effort, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is asking people to find the time to go and see their older relatives who, according to statistics, may be at a higher risk of fire.

The service has published a ‘grandparent check’ which people can use to assess whether or not the older people in their lives – be it family, friends or neighbours – would benefit from a home safety check from local firefighters.

These visits, which are totally free, involve fire and rescue staff visiting properties to offer safety advice and fit smoke alarms. They also allow officers to identify risks and put things in place to make residents safer in their homes.

A list of things that people can do themselves, to help safeguard their older friends and relatives, has also been published.

“The motivation behind this campaign is really simple – in the last six weeks we’ve had a number of fire deaths that have involved people over 60-years-old,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“On their own these incidents are really tragic and when put alongside figures from our recent history we can see, quite clearly, that as people get older their fire risk increases.

“This is due to a range of factors – be it living alone, having limited mobility or a hearing impairment or taking medication that causes drowsiness – that can make older people more likely to have a fire and less able to escape.

“Fortunately there are things that we can all do to help. We’ve published some advice on simple things that people can do themselves to help make their loved ones safer. Then, if people still feel like they would benefit from a home safety check, the form on our website only takes a matter of minutes to complete.

“We can only help the people we know about and therefore rely on family and friends to get in touch with us. We know everyone is really busy but a quick visit makes a huge difference.”

Advice for people checking up on their loved ones includes:

  • Make sure they have working smoke alarms
  • Do they smoke? Ensure they’ve got a proper ash tray
  • Get them a working phone that stays with them all the time
  • Speak to them about what to do in the event of a fire
  • Help them de-clutter, particularly their exit routes

Find The Time follows on from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s ‘Fire Safe Together’ campaign that was launched by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017. This initiative urged partner agencies to work together in order to identify people who may be at risk and is being re-launched alongside this latest campaign.

Statistics show that over half the people who have died in accidental house fires, across South Yorkshire, since 2013 were over 60-years-old.

More information is available at www.syfire.gov.uk/findthetime.

Fire service proposals to be considered by Authority

Fire service proposals to meet a multi-million pound financial shortfall by reducing the number of firefighters on a fire engine from five to four will be considered by its governing Authority.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says the only alternative to making the change- which has already been adopted by many other services nationwide- is to reduce the speed of its 999 response during the night time period from up to half of its fire stations.

The organisation faces cost pressures of up to £4 million, due to no longer being able to use a way of staffing fire stations called Close Proximity Crewing which and because it may have to meet a significant, national shortfall in pension contributions.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “We’d rather not make any changes at all, but have a duty to match our resources to local risk and to manage the service in a financially responsible way.

“We face cost pressures of up to £4 million and the extent of the savings required is inevitably going to mean changes to the way we provide our 999 service to the public.

“We think it is better to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine, than it is to slow down our response times by reducing the number of fire engines which are immediately available.

“Our fire engines already attend incidents with four firefighters about a third of the time- and many other UK fire services already ride with four as a norm.”

All fire and rescue authorities must provide a plan which sets out the steps they will take and resources they need to improve public safety, reduce fires and save lives. This is known as an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). It must be publicly available, reflect consultation with stakeholders and demonstrate the most up-to-date analysis of local risk.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s draft IRMP will be considered by Fire Authority members at its meeting on Monday 8 April. If approved, the plans will then be consulted on with members of the public.

Find The Time campaign – grandparent check

How safe are your older relatives?

For our latest campaign we’re asking people tofind the timeto visitthe older people in their livesand go through our Grandparent Check, which asksa series of questionsincluding whether they live alone, smoke, need a walking aid and use emollient creams.

________________________________________

________________________________________

Our statistics show that fire risk can increase with age and, if you answer yes to any of the questions above in relation to an older friend, neighbour or relative,they may be at higher risk and be eligiblefor a free home safety checkby our staff. Check today by filling out ourhome safetycheck referral form, below.

In the meantime,help make them saferby:

  • Making sure they have working smoke alarms
  • Ensuring they’ve got a proper ash tray, if they smoke
  • Getting them a working phone that stays with them all the time
  • Speaking to them about what to do in the event of a fire
  • Helping them de-clutter, particularly their exit routes

Home Safety Check referral form

The form below collects some personal information, which we will only use for the purposes described. You can find out more about how we collect and store personal information here.

If you’re filling this formfor someone else pleaseensure you enter their details on their behalf. Ensure that the contact number provided can be used to organise a visit.

Local school children the stars of new International Women’s Day video

Anyone can be anything – that’s the message in a new heart-warming film from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) today, Friday 8 March.

You can watch the video here.

Produced in celebration of International Women’s Day, the video shows what happened when three female fire service staff spent a morning with year three schoolchildren.

The kids were asked what they would like to be when they grow up, and were asked to guess what jobs their guests did, before being shocked and inspired when they found out their real occupations.

Filmed at Mosborough Primary School, in Sheffield, the aim of the video is to highlight the range of career options within the fire and rescue service – and encourage local women to register their interest in careers with SYFR.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson, said that the film is part of a wider effort to change perceptions around the fire service being a male dominated organisation.

“We’ve come a long way in recent years but there’s still more to do – you only have to look at the fact I’m one of only four women in the country who hold such a similar senior position, and the figure that still only five per cent of firefighters are women, to see that,” she added.

“For so long the image of the fire service that is portrayed in films and the media is of men rushing into burning buildings, but the actual reality is so far from that. We do much more community and youth engagement work now where we need a variety of skills and people that are representative of South Yorkshire’s population.

“Of course our staff do go into burning buildings but this isn’t just men, we have both male and female firefighters who go through the same rigorous testing and training process to be able to ride on one of our fire engines.

“We also have loads of amazing women working in support roles and our control room, too, and International Women’s Day provides a perfect opportunity to celebrate the work that they do – and also try to inspire more women to think about a career with us.”

The video, which has been unveiled this morning, stars Bronte Jones, a firefighter at Rotherham fire station, Sharon ‘Shaz’ Bailey, a Maintenance Operative & Driver and Amanpreet Kaur, an ICT Applications Developer.

Bronte, who graduated from her training course in December last year, is a former Mosborough Primary School pupil.

She said: “My dad works in the fire service so I’ve grown up in the fire family. I’ve wanted to be a firefighter for as long as I can remember so passing my training course at the end of the year was a dream come true. Afterwards I just thought wow, I’ve actually done it!

“There’s a lot of common misconceptions around firefighting but, man or woman, you only pass the training course – which is tough and physically demanding – if you are fit and strong enough to do the job properly.

“Of course there are times when it gets hard but, like I said to the kids at school, if you fully commit to it, work hard and maintain your standards, then you can do it – regardless of your gender. Personally I think it is the best job in the world, it’s so rewarding.

“From day one of the recruits course you are part of a team – you have the support of your fellow trainees and then the experienced instructors who guide you along the way. Then you get to station and, even though I’ve only been at Rotherham for a few months, my crew have already become my work family. Together your colleagues pass on all the knowledge they have gained over the years to shape you into the best firefighter you can be.”

Anybody interested in a career with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can register their interest, to receive future job notifications, at www.syfire.gov.uk/find-a-job/register-your-interest/.