South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Service launches September recruitment drive

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is once again calling for people in Askern, Rossington, Stocksbridge, Dearne, Birley and Cudworth to join their on-call firefighting teams.

Despite two hugely successful recruitment campaigns in the last year, there are still some spaces at each of the above stations that the service would like to fill.

On-call firefighters play a vital role in crewing fire stations right across the county. Trained to the same high standards as full-time firefighters, they attend all types of incidents and contribute towards the service’s prevention work within the community.

Anyone interested is urged to register their interest on the service’s website, here. The service will then contact each individual directly with regards to the next steps.

On-call firefighters are paid for their training, for being on-call and for each incident they attend – but they must live or work within a five minute drive of their closest fire station.

“On-call firefighters are ordinary people who do an extraordinary job. The commitment they make to their communities is something that words can’t describe,” said SYFR Station Manager Chris Tyler, who oversees the service’s on-call fire stations.

“This latest recruitment drive provides another opportunity for people in these six areas to fulfil the childhood dream of so many people and our message is clear – if you want to do it, get in touch, and we’ll do what we can to make the dream a reality.

“There’s loads of information on what it takes to be an on-call firefighter, what the job related tests involve and what the job involves, on our website – I’d definitely recommend having a read of the content there if you’re interested.”

For more information on the role of an on-call firefighter, visit the service’s website here.

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Arson numbers down as service hones in on fire-setting

South Yorkshire’s firefighters have responded to less deliberate fires so far this summer than in recent years, according to figures released by the county’s fire service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) says it has attended 997 deliberate fire incidents across May, June and July this year – a seven percent reduction compared to the 1,073 attended during the same period last year.

Against the average for May, June and July across the last three years – which stands at 1,404 incidents – the reduction is actually 29 percent.

However, with several weeks left of the school holidays, a period which often sees an increase in fire service call outs, officers are still calling on the public to be vigilant.

In particular, SYFR is urging people to report anything they know about deliberate fire-setting via their FireStoppers service – which was launched earlier this year.

Much like its sister, Crimestoppers, all reports that go into FireStoppers are totally anonymous. Residents simply need to call 0800 169 5558 or visit firestoppersreport.co.uk.

“This may come as a surprise to some, but deliberate fires are amongst the most common types of incident that our firefighters attend, yet they are often entirely needless,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“We put lots of effort in to trying to stamp out arson attacks and it is great to see that what we are doing – a combination of our new FireStoppers service and work from our community safety staff and operational crews – is having the desired effect in reducing incident numbers.

“However, there is always more work to do, and one deliberate fire is one too many. The summer is not over yet and this can be a really busy time for us, especially when the weather hots up.

“Deliberate fire-setting not only endangers life and wastes our time, it can also massively destroy local parks, facilities and landscapes, so I would really encourage people to keep using our FireStoppers service to help us help you.”

You can report information about deliberate fire-setting to FireStoppers, totally anonymously, by calling 0800 169 5558 or visiting firestoppersreport.co.uk.

As well as cracking down on arson, fire officers are also asking people to be extremely careful when visiting the moors, when using disposable BBQs and when around open water.

“All of these things are a big focus for us. Our ask, in each three instances, is simple – please just be careful and treat your surroundings with respect,” added Matt.

“Don’t use disposable BBQs and leave litter on the moors or in tinder dry areas, and never jump in to open water – only ever swim outdoors if you know what you are doing.”

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New Barnsley fire station goes operational

Firefighters have begun responding to 999 calls from South Yorkshire’s newest fire station for the first time.

The new two storey, three bay Barnsley fire station was completed earlier this month and went operational yesterday (Tuesday 17 August).

The energy efficient building on Broadway, Kingstone replaces the 60-year-old fire station on the same site which had reached the end of its operational life.

Firefighters had been housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst the year-long construction of the new station was completed.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Carlin, said: “This is a really special day, as the new station has been several years in the planning and represents part of our vision to provide all our firefighters with modern, comfortable and energy efficient spaces in which to live and work.

“The new station has been completed to a very high specification and with the wishes of the firefighters who will work there taken into account at every stage. It has been paid for using money set aside from the Authority’s reserves and we expect it to provide an outstanding service to the people of Barnsley for many years to come.”

An existing unused building adjacent to the fire station will be re-purposed and upgraded to host the service’s award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme initiative as well as providing space to hold events and meetings and bookings from community groups.

Energy saving measures at the new fire station include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

The investment forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around £8 million being set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate.

Bond Bryan acted as architects for the project, with JF Finnegans acting as contractors.

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South Yorkshire firefighters join mammoth ride in bid to raise vital charity cash

Two South Yorkshire firefighters are amongst a 20 strong team bidding to cycle the length of the UK to raise mental health awareness and thousands for charity.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Mark Peart and Paul Simmonite are joining firefighting colleagues from Suffolk for the 10 day, 1,000 mile ride from Lands End to John O’Groats in September.

The team are aiming to raise £50,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports the mental, physical and social needs of all serving and retired members of the UK’s fire family.

Paul has been a firefighter for 29 years and is currently based at Aston Park fire station. He said: “I’ve worked at stations across South Yorkshire and seen things that most people will thankfully never see, but due to the nature of the family feel of the fire and rescue service there has always been support available to me.

“I know The Fire Fighters Charity provides lots of mental health support though, so raising for them was something I really wanted to do.

“After meeting up and spending a day cycling with the group from Suffolk, I was honoured and privileged when they contacted me and asked me to join the team on this epic adventure. It’s been on my bucket list for years to ride the length of the UK, so I jumped at the chance.

“To be able to challenge myself with the mental and physical aspects of this adventure and knowing others will benefit from the team’s efforts is really inspiring.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby, said: “Mark and Paul have the support of the whole fire service behind them. Not only are they raising money for a charity which does so much for serving and retired fire service staff and their families, they are also raising much needed awareness of the mental health issues which many emergency service workers face.

“I’ll be joining the team for part of the ride- but the scale of the full challenge is absolutely enormous and I’d encourage people to dig deep and donate to help inspire them to complete this incredible feat.”

The team begin their mammoth ride on Monday 20 September, stopping at eight fire stations across the UK along the way.

To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/longestride

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Fire services combine to reveal new, state-of-the-art kit

Firefighters across the Yorkshire and Humber region have revealed new, advanced fire kit following a joint procurement deal.

As part of a tri-service agreement, all firefighters in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and the Humberside region will begin wearing new fire tunics and trousers. For crews in South Yorkshire and Humberside, the personal protective equipment (PPE) revamp will also feature a pioneering, multi-function rescue jacket to reflect the changing role of the modern firefighter.

The kit is currently being rolled out across the three counties to assist firefighters in best protecting local communities. It is a proud moment for all three fire services, who have collaborated in a two year project, resulting in the final contract being awarded to supplier Ballyclare International.

The new fire kit features specially designed knee and elbow panels to make it easier to move and more comfortable to wear as well as innovative new spacer fabric, to improve breathability for those wearing it.

The collaboration means all three services have saved money, enhanced firefighter safety and standardised fire kit regionally.

The PPE underwent rigorous testing back in June 2020, as part of extensive performance trials involving both male and female firefighters from all three services.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tony Carlin said: “Our operational crews need first-class fire kit in order to respond to a wide range of incidents and protect the residents of South Yorkshire the best we can. Our new kit features the very latest technologies and safety features to ensure that our crews not only have the best protection on the fire ground but have full confidence in their equipment.

“We have a dedication to collaborating however we can with our neighbouring services and this is another clear example of a collaboration project that not only enhances the safety of our firefighters but ensures best value.”

Humberside Fire & Rescue Service Director of Service Delivery Support, Steve Topham said: “This has been a great opportunity to work with our colleagues from across Yorkshire as part of a regional procurement of new structural PPE from Ballyclare International. It has helped us all in making efficiencies and providing our staff with new PPE that improves their safety and comfort while attending incidents.

“Great care was taken to make sure the new PPE provided a better fit for all our staff and provides better breathability when working in hot environments. Our staff will be receiving their new PPE later in August and supports our ongoing aim to provide safer communities, safer firefighters.”

West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Area Manager, Dave Teggart said “We have worked closely with colleagues from across the Yorkshire and Humber region to purchase our new structural PPE from Ballyclare International.

“The regional procurement shows our commitment to making efficiencies, by reducing duplication and effort.

“The new PPE offers higher levels of protection and wearer comfort to our staff, making them safer than they ever have been.”

Deborah Hudson, Head Designer at Ballyclare said: “At Ballyclare, we recognise firefighters face an ever-expanding range of challenges and new hazards. With this project, we took an innovative design approach to increase protection levels.

“The three layer construction provides excellent protection against heat and flame, while delivering outstanding tensile strength. The lightweight combination provides barriers against heat and quickly moves moisture away from the wearer. This, coupled with the unique 3D structure increases the movement of air throughout the suit providing firefighters with maximum breathability and comfort. To significantly increase the visibility of firefighters in dark conditions we included the world’s first fire retardant and fully launderable phosphorescent tape in the design.

“Another key benefit of the suits are their rugged and reliable construction, allowing them to withstand a rigorous cleaning and maintenance regime without losing their protective qualities. Ballyclare is proud to provide this innovative fire kit to firefighters across Yorkshire and Humberside.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue service firefighters will now be wearing the new kit, with firefighters from West Yorkshire and Humberside donning the gear later in the summer.

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 2017, placing a new statutory duty on emergency services to look at opportunities to work collaboratively.

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Service launches ‘trailblazing’ virtual safety check service

Artificial intelligence is set to supercharge the way safety advice is delivered to the public, following the launch of a new service by fire officers in South Yorkshire.

Today, Wednesday 21 July, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has launched a brand new system that allows local residents to get a virtual fire safety check from the comfort of their own homes.

All people have to do is text a number from their mobile phones, or scan a QR code, and they will be asked a series of questions on things such as smoke alarms and electricals.

They will be walked through the whole process by an artificial intelligence system that will give immediate feedback and, if necessary, ask them to book an in-person safety visit.

As well as asking questions and giving feedback, the system will urge participants to check various appliances around the home and ensure they are safe with things such as ovens.

It’s thought that this virtual check is the first of its kind not only for the UK fire services, but for fire services right across the world, and fire officers believe it will help them them on their mission to make South Yorkshire as safe from fire as possible.

“We are really excited about this new feature and know it’s going to make thousands of people safer in their homes – which is what our service is all about,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“These virtual checks will allow people to assess their own fire risk and get potentially life-saving safety advice, all through a mobile phone, and in the comfort of their own homes.

“To be clear, we have no intention of using this new technology to replace or reduce our current in-person home safety check provision – this is vital work which we will carry on.

“The virtual check service is an extra string to our community safety bow which is ideal for households who are generally at low risk from fire, but would still like some reassurance.

“I’d encourage everyone to scan the code or text the number and answer the different questions you are sent – as well as giving immediate feedback the system will also tell you if we think you need an in-person check from our crews.”

It’s estimated the check will take people around five minutes to complete and advice will be offered on any areas where there are causes for concern.

Should the system feel the person is high risk and in need of an in-person visit, they will be invited to request one via the service’s website.

The virtual safety check has been developed in partnership with Hello Lamp Post, a company specialising in using artificial intelligence to support public sector organisations and the communities they serve.

“We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with a Fire and Rescue Service – and we’re delighted that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue are the first to start this journey with us,” said Tiernan Mines, CEO & Co-Founder at Hello Lamp Post.

“It’s brilliant to see the service embracing innovative digital tools to support its community, and we look forward to helping them take their engagement and communication to the next level.”

You can access the service by messaging ‘HELLO FIRE SERVICE’ to 07862 126663.

You can find out more about Hello Lamp Post on their website, here. 

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Firefighters to start delivering vaccines across Sheffield

Firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) will be supporting Sheffield GP practices by delivering COVID-19 vaccines.

This comes just over a month after a number of fire service volunteers were trained up as vaccinators by St John Ambulance, and is part of a huge national effort from fire services across the country to help with the pandemic response.

The agreement – struck by Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson, and leaders at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group – will see firefighters and fire service support staff giving vaccinations at practices across the city.

Fire and rescue staff have already delivered more than 250,000 vaccines nationally, but local bosses say they are keen to get this number even higher and help protect people across South Yorkshire from the virus.

“Our purpose is to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger, which is why since the start of the pandemic we have stood ready, willing and able to help in any way we can,” said the service’s Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson.

“So far we have delivered food and medicine to isolated people, distributed 1.3 million pieces of PPE to frontline health workers and worked with military planners to identify vaccination sites, but we want to do more.

“That’s why we have supported our staff to get vaccinator training, thanks to St John Ambulance, and why we have offered our help to the CCG in Sheffield.

“The vaccination programme is a huge national effort and, whilst I’m really proud that my staff have stood up and offered to contribute, I’m not at all surprised – as a service we exist to help people in need and that is exactly what we are doing here.”

Alun Windle, Chief Nurse and Covid Vaccination Lead at NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “We are really pleased to have South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service on board helping deliver the vaccination programme in Sheffield.

“Vaccines offer us the best chance of returning to normal and relaxing lockdown restrictions for good, it’s vital we keep on vaccinating people. The support from SYFR will help us reach the target to offer all adults their first vaccination by 31 July.”

The request for support from SYFR came from the CCG at a meeting of the South Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum on Thursday 27 May.

The forum is made up of public agencies from right across South Yorkshire – including fire, police and health services – and members have met every week since the start of the pandemic to co-ordinate the local response.

People aged 30 and over are now being invited for vaccination, if you’re aged 30 and over have yet to have your vaccination you can book online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by contacting 119. If you’re aged over 50, have a long term condition or are a health and social care worker you can also contact your GP to book.

The service’s core 999 response will not be affected by this work.

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Services come together to offer blue light advice for road users

Fire services across Yorkshire are re-iterating their advice to road users on what to do when coming across blue light vehicles, with more cars now on the roads due to lockdown restrictions easing.

Stay calm, pull over safely and give as much room as possible is the key message from the four brigades – South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside.

Drivers are also being urged not to perform emergency stops in the middle of a road. This, the services say, can end up slowing emergency vehicles down or even bring them to a complete halt.

“People’s response to blue light vehicles is generally amazing, and I thank anyone who has ever pulled over to let us pass, but it’s really important that people do it in the right way,” said South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Station Manager, Wayne Sutcliffe.

“The last thing we need when trying to get to an incident is a collision with a vehicle so, with more cars now returning to our roads due to lockdown restrictions easing, we thought this would be a pretty good time to re-iterate our advice.

“Our key ask is that people stay calm and pull over safely to give us a route through but, as well as being safe, it’s important people follow the Highway Code too – mounting kerbs is definitely not advised, nor is crossing double white lines or going through red lights.

“There’s a really good Blue Light Aware video that explains the reasoning behind all of these things and I’d highly recommend all drivers take a few minutes to watch and understand it.”

The Highway Code states that drivers should give way to blue light vehicles but should avoid moving through a red light, moving into a bus lane or entering a yellow box junction.

Motorists are also advised not to tailgate blue light vehicles once they have passed as this puts the driver, other road users and those within the emergency vehicle at risk.

“Really this is about being calm and sensible. We need room, and we need to get through, but we don’t need or want people breaking laws and crashing their cars,” Wayne added.

“What we also need is for people to park sensibly, too. Double parking can be a huge problem, particularly for the fire service, and I’d encourage everyone to just stop and think, each time they pull up, whether or not we’d be able to get through the gap they’re leaving.”

The Blue Light Aware video, produced by GEM Motoring Assist, can be viewed on their website – here: www.bluelightaware.org.uk.

It is widely regarded by police, fire and ambulance services across the country as an essential watch for all UK motorists.

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Fire service asks for public help with arson crack down

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are asking the public to help them crack down on deliberate fires across the county, by reporting incident details to a dedicated new fire line.

In response to the 3900 deliberate fire incidents they were called to in last year, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has joined up with an arm of the national charity, Crimestoppers.

FireStoppers, which works in the same way as Crimestoppers, allows the public to anonymously report any information they have on deliberate fire-setting.

This can be done by calling a dedicated phone number, 0800 169 5558, or by using an online form – www.firestoppersreport.co.uk. Once reported, the details will be anonymised and used as part of fire and police investigations.

The service says it hopes the new initiative will help reduce call-outs, protect public property and keep people safe – as well as having environmental benefits too.

“We’ve made great strides in terms of reducing house fires over the last 10 years, but nearly 4000 deliberate fires in one year is 4000 too many,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“We want to show people that we are taking this issue seriously and we also felt we needed to provide people a safe, anonymous route to report details of arson attacks to us.

“Other fire services across the country have successfully reduced deliberate fire setting by up to 20 percent through this service, and we’re hoping it will have a positive impact here.

“Our ask of the public is simple – if you know anything about deliberate fire-setting in your area then please report it via the FireStoppers line and help us crack down on these fires.”

This latest fire service campaign comes after firefighters were called out to 3945 deliberate fires across South Yorkshire last year.

Figures show that Doncaster was the worst hit area, with 1116, followed by Rotherham with 1053, Barnsley with 989 and Sheffield with 787.

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Fire service makes water safety plea

South Yorkshire’s fire service is asking people to stay out of water this summer, unless they are part of an organised open water swimming group.

The message comes as part of a national week of action, run from Monday 26 April to Monday 3 May by the National Fire Chief’s Council, in which fire services across the country are urging people to stay safe near water.

Firefighters hope that by joining forces, and gaining support of partners such as the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), they can reduce the 144 water rescues and incidents they attended last year.

This push also comes less than a year after the family of local teenager, Taylor Matthews, shared their tragic story in hope of saving other young lives.

Taylor, also known as Tay, drowned in Doncaster’s Skelbrooke Quarry in July 2018. He was out with friends when he jumped in from a bank around 30 feet high.

As soon as he entered the water, he suffered from cold water shock, which saw his body shut down. The inquest into his death ruled that he died from immersion.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, what happened to Taylor was a tragedy, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Watch Manager Craig Huxley, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) lead for water safety.

“That’s why we’re supporting this week of action, and will be campaigning around water safety over the coming months as the weather warms up.

“Our message is simple – people should stay out of the water unless they are part of an open water swimming group, of which there are several in and around South Yorkshire.

“Unless you are part of one of these groups, you shouldn’t be going anywhere near open bodies of water such as quarries, lakes and reservoirs.

“To start with, lots of these places are privately owned, so people shouldn’t be going there anyway. Then, beyond that, there are a wide range of risks with jumping into open water.

“Firstly, the water is almost always colder than it looks. As was the case with Taylor, your body can temporarily shut down from cold water shock which can stop even strong swimmers.

“Secondly, you don’t know what’s under the surface. There could be anything such as trollies, broken glass or plastic and reeds that can trap you.

“Finally, there are often hidden currents in bodies of water that can overpower even the strongest of swimmers. It’s just not worth the risk.”

In the run up to the week of action, officers from SYFR have developed a range of water safety videos that have been sent into primary and secondary schools across the county.

The service has also joined up with the RLSS UK to develop a range of education and safety materials, including the development of a dedicated water safety website – www.syfrwater.co.uk.

This website features a range of information on how to keep you, your friends and your family safe, and also features interactive games for children.

Lee Heard, Charity Director for the Royal Life Saving Society UK, said:

“We know how tempting it is to jump in to cool off on a hot day, but the difference between the air temperature and the water temperature will literally take your breath away and dramatically reduce your ability to self-rescue.

“Swimming with a group at a recognised site is just one of many ways you can really have fun in the water, safe in the knowledge that the set-up is designed to look out for all of you.

“RLSS UK urge people to learn to enjoy water safely before they head out, ensuring everyone has a great day.”

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