Staff fund and host Christmas dinner for rough sleepers

Rough sleepers from in and around Sheffield were served a three course Christmas dinner today (Wednesday 12 December) at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s headquarters.

The meal, which consisted of turkey and all the trimmings, was paid for by fire service staff and cooked by the service’s chef. Guests were then served a syrup sponge pudding.

The attendees ate in the service’s café facility, which is shared with Age UK Sheffield, after being invited in by Framework’s Street Outreach team. The leftover food from the event has since been sent to the Salvation Army who will be using it to provide their beneficiaries with a Christmas dinner this evening.

Area Manager Tony Carlin, who has led on getting the meal set up, said: “Working with our partners on the Weather Watch scheme has really brought home for us the issue of homelessness in Sheffield and we, with the support of our staff, wanted to give some rough sleepers at least one hot meal this Christmas.

“For us this is a small gesture but hopefully it will go a long way. Everyone who attended the meal was extremely grateful and, whilst it was great for them to get a dinner, the important thing is that our partner agencies were on hand to offer support too.”

Members of staff based at the service’s headquarters donated £5 each to sponsor one meal for a rough sleeper – with any excess money going towards the Red Cross Weather Watch scheme.

Following the event, the service has set up a JustGiving page – with all proceeds going towards Framework Housing Association. This can be found here.

“We’ve had a lot of people asking us how they can help, so we’ve set up a JustGiving page as part of this event. This means that anybody who wants to contribute can do so by donating a sum of their choice, however big or small,” added Tony.

If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough please call Framework on 0800 066 5358 or Text SOTS to 80800 followed by your message, or visit www.streetlink.org.uk.

Electrical safety quiz – how safe are you?

How safe are you when it comes to electrics in your home?

How safe are your pets?

As part of our Protect Your Pets campaign we’ve designed the below quiz to see how much you know about electrical fire safety.

Have a go for your chance to win one of a great prize collection – including tickets to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, tickets to the Grenoside Pantomime Group’s Aladdin performance and a portable bluetooth speaker worth £35.

We will draw the prize winners on Wednesday 19 December. If you’ve won, we’ll be in touch.

#ProtectYourPets - Electrical Fire Safety Quiz

  • This form collects some personal information - which will be used to contact the randomly selected quiz winner and subsequently be destroyed. By submitting the form you are agreeing for your data to be used in this way.

Service opens doors to rough sleepers

Up to eight people will be able to stay overnight at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) Headquarters, on Eyre Street in Sheffield, this winter – with British Red Cross volunteers on hand to welcome them.

This is thanks to a partnership between various agencies – including Sheffield City Council, British Red Cross, Framework and South Yorkshire Police – and comes into action when the council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol when the weather gets very cold.

Known locally as Weather Watch, the scheme offers somewhere safe and warm for rough sleepers.

Area Manager Tony Carlin said: “Helping people in need and saving lives is core to our mission as a fire service, so it makes perfect sense for us to provide emergency accommodation during particularly severe weather periods.

“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.”

Anyone who is homeless, or at risk of losing their accommodation, can call Sheffield City Council on 0114 273 6306 during office hours, or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours.

When Weather Watch kicks in, SYFR will be opening the doors at ‘Central Headquarters’ on the coldest nights at 9pm and places are allocated by contacting Sheffield City Council on the numbers above or by calling into First Point at Howden House.

Staff at HQ will link people up to the Council’s Out of Hours Service when places are full, so that warmth and shelter can be found elsewhere.

Richard Crow, British Red Cross emergency response officer for South Yorkshire said: “We have responded to a request from Sheffield City Council alongside South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to support at this scheme providing emergency shelter to the homeless in the city. British Red Cross volunteers and staff will be on hand to provide practical and emotional support, including the provision of hot food and drinks, and signposting service users to longer-term support where needed.

“The Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours across the UK, working with partners to help people in crisis.”

If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough please call Framework on 0800 066 5358 or Text SOTS to 80800 followed by your message, or visit www.streetlink.org.uk. You can also call the Weather Watch numbers on someone’s behalf (0114 273 6306 or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours) but please do this when you’re with the person so they can provide extra information.

Councillor Jim, Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety at Sheffield City Council, said: “The fire station gives us extra places for people at risk of sleeping rough on the coldest nights, and is somewhere safe and warm.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the fire service and the British Red Cross, and all their staff and volunteers, for working with us on this.

“Homelessness is a growing problem and extra duties placed on councils means increased demand for services. But through this partnership work we’re able to offer more help to more people, which is what we want as a city.”

For more information about help for rough sleepers visit www.sheffield.gov.uk or www.helpushelp.uk.

Pets the focus of new fire safety campaign

Stop putting your animals at risk – that’s the message from firefighters, and a number of special guests,  as they launch a new safety campaign aiming to drive down electrical fires across South Yorkshire.

Figures released by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue today, to coincide with Black Friday, show there have been more than 350 electrical house fires in the county over the last three years.

Data also shows that crews have attended over 76 house fires in the last three years where pets were involved – highlighting that it isn’t just humans who can be affected by fire.

With most of these incidents being described by fire officers as easily preventable – the service has joined forces with a number of local ‘celebs’ to produce a series of online videos that highlight some of the everyday electrical fire risks in the home.

Sheffield Lord Mayor Magid Magid joins Pete McKee, Radio Sheffield’s Sam Cleasby and her husband, and former Arctic Monkeys tour manager, Timm Cleasby, in the series – with the first of which being launched today on social media.

The launch of these videos will also be followed by a range of stalls and educational talks across the county – with people across South Yorkshire urged to act on the three pieces of advice being given out by the fire service.

Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department, said: “When you leave the house in a morning, with the washing machine on and various electrical devices on charge, do you ever think about how your dog, or maybe your rabbit, would escape in the event of a fire? How about your fish, or budgie?

“Anybody who has a pet knows that they are part of the family but they are often overlooked when it comes to escaping in an emergency – with fire as a prime example. We know people are busy and don’t want to ask too much, so we’ve pulled out three simple things that people can do to keep their animal friends safer.

“Most of our electrical fires could have been easily prevented and the most common causes are things like leaving electrical appliances (like washing machines and tumble dryers) on overnight and when people are out, as well as overloading plug sockets.

“Buying ‘knock-off’ electrical equipment, which does not meet safety standards is also something we strongly discourage, as it can be prone to malfunctioning and starting fires. A good rule of thumb is that if it sounds too cheap to be true, it probably is.”

The service’s three top tips to safeguard your pets from electrical fires are:

  • Don’t leave appliances on, and devices charging, at night and when you’re out of the house – to eliminate the risk of these malfunctioning and catching fire.
  • Buy electrical equipment which is genuine and from trusted sources – ‘knock off’ phone chargers and batteries are prone to setting on fire.
  • Don’t overload plug sockets – exceeding the advised current rating (13 amps) can cause them to overheat and catch fire.

Earlier this month firefighters from Central and Lowedges were called to reports of a fire on Reney Road, Sheffield. Upon arrival they found a dog trapped inside a heavily smoke logged flat after a toaster had completely melted.

A different incident, which took place a year ago on Princess Street, Doncaster, saw two dogs trapped in their smoke-filled house during a kitchen fire. They had a lucky escape that day but their owner, Shaleen Ross, said it could have been much worse.

“When you leave the house you don’t think about what might happen when you’re out, especially to your pets,” she added.

“Fortunately the dogs found an air pocket, they got lucky, but we still had to move out of the house for three months as they kitchen was destroyed and there was smoke damage to other areas of the house. It was six weeks before Christmas too.

“Our smoke alarms did activate and were going off for a while, but nobody noticed. All I would say is be careful and make sure things are switched off before you leave the house, especially when you’ve got pets who aren’t able to get themselves out.”

More recently, on Sunday 17 November, crews from Doncaster and Edlington attended a house fire on Anchorage Lane, in Sprotbrough, which was caused by a faulty washing machine that had been left on overnight.

Following the fire, Watch Manager Gary Ridgeway, who was the incident commander on the night, has called for people to make sure washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and other electrical appliances are switched off overnight.

He said: “This incident started after the occupant got in at night and turned the washing machine on before he went to bed. There was a fault in the washing machine which started the fire, filled the kitchen with smoke and caused a significant amount of damage to the property.

“At 2am in the morning, the two people who lived at the house would have had nowhere to go, had it not have been for their neighbours. Fortunately the smoke alarms sounded and they were able to get out, so the outcome wasn’t too bad.

“This is a serious issue for us, though. People think that putting the washer on overnight will be cheaper and save time. It may do, in some cases, but you have to think about the risk and what could happen if there’s a fault and you’re not there to react quickly.

“I would say it’s just not worth it, the cost of some electricity and time is nothing compared to the lasting damage that comes with a fire – be it injury to you, your family or a pet, a kitchen that is completely destroyed or something far worse.”

Service thanks public for support during bonfire period

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is thanking people across the county today (Monday 12 November) for their support during the bonfire period – with fireworks now being off general sale.

Crews from across the county dealt with the same amount of overall incidents on bonfire night this year than last – but saw a 16 per cent reduction in the number of ‘secondary fires’ they were called to during the course of the evening.

Preventing secondary fires, which include things such as deliberate rubbish and bin fires, as well as out of control bonfires, was a key focus of the service’s work during Operation Dark Nights.

The joint annual initiative, which was launched last month in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, saw officers from both organisations visiting schools across the county to talk about a range of things including peer pressure, the dangers of playing with fire and misusing fireworks.

It also saw parents urged to talk to their children about these dangers and the potential consequences of carelessness and deliberate fire-setting.

The activity ran from mid-October until the week after Bonfire Night itself, to account for any late bonfire parties, and whilst officers welcome the reduction in secondary incidents in comparison to the previous year, they are still urging people to take extra care over the coming months.

“A lot of work took place in the run up to bonfire night and I’d like to thank the public for their support, its pleasing to see that we’ve not seen an increase in incidents attended and have actually had a reduction in some areas, but it is important that we don’t become complacent,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“As we enter winter we’re continuing to urge parents and other responsible adults to have those 5 minute conversations with their kids to find out what they’re upto and outline the potential consequences of playing with fire.”

The service’s specific ‘Operation Dark Nights’ advice included:

  • Speak to your kids and find out what they’re up to – remind them of the damage that fire-setting can do to both people and property.
  • Bring your wheelie bins straight in after collection, and don’t leave them out overnight. These are often a target of arson.
  • Businesses – don’t leave your rubbish and waste lying around!
  • If you’re having a bonfire, make sure it is away from trees, bushes, sheds and fences.
  • Take care with fireworks and never go back to one once it is lit.

Fireworks (including sparklers) can only be bought from registered sellers, for private use, between 15 October and 10 November. They can also be bought between 26 to 31 December and 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year. Outside of these dates they can be purchased from licensed shops.

Service issues safety advice for Diwali celebrations

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is once again calling on people across the county to take extra care today (Wednesday 7 November) and over the coming days as they celebrate Diwali.

With many families coming together, to celebrate what is one of the biggest dates in the religious calendar, comes an added risk due to the increased use of candles, divas, tealights and fireworks. The cooking of special meals can also bring additional dangers.

The service’s top five tips for Diwali, all of which involve taking very simple precautions, are:

  1. Always place divas/diyas, tea lights and candles on heat-resistant surfaces and well away from curtains and decorations.
  2. Children and pets should be supervised at all times near flames.
  3. Don’t let yourself get distracted – never leave cooking unattended.
  4. If a pan with oil in it catches fire, don’t move it and don’t throw water over it. Get out of the kitchen, close the door behind you and call 999.
  5. Ensure that all fireworks meet British safety standards and never go back to one once it is lit.

“This is a really important time for so many people across South Yorkshire, and we’re really keen that everyone observes it and enjoys it safely,” said Area Manager Steve Helps.

“Our main advice focuses on candle safety, simply keeping them away from flammable materials, such as curtains and clothes, and of course children, can make a big difference.”

Police and fire join forces ahead of bonfire night as part of Operation Dark Nights

A joint effort to reduce deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour during the bonfire period is being kicked off today, Monday 22 October, by two of South Yorkshire’s emergency services.

South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) have once again joined forces for their annual ‘Operation Dark Nights’ initiative – with children and their parents the main focus of this year’s efforts.

As part of the operation, staff from both organisations will be visiting schools across South Yorkshire to educate youngsters around firework safety, stop drop and roll techniques and resisting peer pressure – as well as the legal and physical consequences of arson and anti-social behaviour.

Parents are also being asked to play their part, too, and ensure they know what their children are getting up to during the bonfire period.

“Our firefighters often report seeing youngsters fleeing the scene of fires around this time of year and, whilst we’re not suggesting all kids are at fault, we know that young people often think they are invincible and that setting fires is just a bit of fun,” said SYFR Group Manager Simon Dunker, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“The reality is though that playing with fire can have serious consequences that will stay with them forever. That’s why it is for us as parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, firefighters and police officers to educate them around the consequences of deliberate fire setting and other anti-social behaviour.

“Our ask if that you talk to your youngsters – find out what they’re up to on bonfire night and as the nights get earlier, and make sure they know that playing with fire is no joke. The consequences are far reaching and could stay with them forever.”

Advice will also be given throughout the operation around bonfire and firework safety – with out of control bonfires in particular prompting a number of calls to SYFR this time last year.

Those who are considering hosting firework displays will be urged to instead consider attending a more spectacular organised event, whilst anybody planning a garden bonfire is strongly advised to keep it away from bushes, trees, sheds and fences.

South Yorkshire Police’s lead for antisocial behaviour, Superintendent Colin McFarlane, said: “Bonfire Night and Halloween are events celebrated by all ages and whilst we want them to be enjoyed by all, it is important that members of the public act both safely and responsibly.

“Our priority remains keeping everyone safe and we will be working with our colleagues from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, to educate everyone around the dangers of firework misuse and how issues or concerns around Bonfire Night, Halloween and ‘mischief night’, can be reported.

“There are lots of safety precautions everyone can take to prevent Halloween and Bonfire night from being remembered for all of the wrong reasons. For example, please make sure that you do not leave rubbish or old furniture lying around – instead, store it securely behind a locked gate or away from your home.

“You can also ensure your wheelie bin is off the street after collection day and is secure within the boundary of your property. This will help to prevent these items from being used for small fires, which could spread quickly and put the lives of those you love most at risk.

“I hope everyone, whatever their plans are for the celebrations, are thoroughly and safely enjoyed and I would urge anyone with concerns about firework misuse to report it via 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

Don’t want trick or treaters this Halloween? You can download a poster, which can be printed and displayed in your window, below.

Dark Nights – No Trick or Treat Leaflet

Specific ‘Operation Dark Nights’ Advice:

  • Speak to your kids and find out what they’re upto – remind them of the damage that fire-setting can do.
  • Bring your wheelie bins straight in after collection, and don’t leave them out overnight. These are often the target of arson.
  • Businesses – don’t leave your rubbish and waste lying around as this too can be a target.
  • If you don’t want trick or treaters – display the above poster.
  • Where possible go to organised firework and bonfire displays, they’re bigger, better and safer.
  • If you are having a bonfire, make sure it is away from trees, bushes, sheds and fences.

Fire service to deliver ‘safe and well’ visits to older people in Barnsley

The fire service will be delivering falls, crime and healthy aging advice to older people in part of Barnsley as of today, Monday 10 October, with a trial programme of new ‘safe and well’ visits now underway in the borough.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has visited tens of thousands of homes across Barnsley for more than a decade to fit smoke alarms and advise residents on preventing fires.

But now it has teamed up with partners including Barnsley Council, Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group and South Yorkshire Police to deliver enhanced ‘safe and well’ visits to extend the range of advice that’s given to the most vulnerable people.

Community safety staff will deliver the new visits in the Cudworth fire station area during a six month trial, after achieving a qualification in health achievement from the Royal Society of Public Health. The fire station covers the north east of Barnsley, including Brierley, Shafton and Royston.

The new visits will be targeted at people aged 65 or over and will include general health and wellbeing advice, falls risk assessments and crime prevention tips. People will then be referred to other agencies for specialist interventions and advice if needed.

Head of prevention and protection, Steve Helps, said: “Our established programme of home safety visits has contributed to a big drop in fires across South Yorkshire over the last decade. But we believe we can use the contact we have with some of the most vulnerable people in society to achieve far more than simply reducing fires.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So strengthening our knowledge and referral mechanisms through collaborative working such as this must surely benefit our public safety objectives, as well as those of partner agencies.”

Julia Burrows, Director of Public Health at Barnsley Council, said: “This pilot will help to reduce and prevent injuries and deaths due to fire, falls, crime and extreme cold weather for our residents in the north east of Barnsley. The Safe and Well Checks are a great example of public agencies working together to deliver better outcomes for local people and a way of making every contact count to keep people healthy and safe,  and to ensure those most in need get the help they require.”

Nationally, fire and rescue services, NHS England, Public Health England, the Local Government Association and other partners, including Age UK, have been working together to explore how they can encourage and deliver local action to reduce demand on health and social care systems and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.

In South Yorkshire, the fire service already delivers safe and well visits across the whole of Doncaster, but is now hoping to extend the visits to other parts of the county.

If successful, the trial of safe and well visits in the Cudworth fire station area could be extended to the rest of Barnsley in the future.

Service issues ‘look out for your loved ones’ plea on Older Peoples Day

People across South Yorkshire are being urged to find the time to check on a loved one this week – as part of Older Persons Day which takes place today, Monday 1 October.

The day coincides with a national Home Safety Week initiative, which runs until Sunday 7 October, and follows a recent fire that involved the death of a Rotherham man who was in his 70s.

An inquest into the man’s death heard that the cause of said fire, which occured in November last year, was a wheat bag that had been left in the microwave too long.

Firefighters were called to another similar fire recently and, whilst nobody was hurt in this instance, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is calling on people to find time this week to check in with their elderly friends, relatives and neighbours who may begin to struggle as the weather drops and winter draws closer.

“We know we have an ageing population and as people get older they can become more vulnerable through things such as limited mobility,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, who heads up the service’s community safety team.

“Sadly this, amongst other things such as colder weather, taking medication and living alone, can put older people are a higher risk of fire. We’ve visited people in the past, for example, who are unable to test their smoke alarm for the simple reason that they can’t reach it.

“Together with our partners we do a lot of work to support the elderly in South Yorkshire and we need people to refer those who they feel might need our support to us. This is why we’re asking people that if they have an elderly relative, or neighbour, that they feel might be at a heightened risk of fire – then get in touch.

“It takes five minutes to fill in the home safety visit referral on our website and, for something so quick, it could lead to a life-saving intervention. Also, checking in to test somebody’s smoke alarm takes no time at all so if you can, please do.”

During 2017/18 there were five fire deaths in South Yorkshire as a result of accidental dwelling fires – two in Sheffield, two in Rotherham and two in Barnsley. Each of these incidents involved a man with two out of five being in their 50s, and the remaining three being in their late 60s and 70s.

Meanwhile nationally, figures show that the rate of fire-related fatalities (deaths per million people) generally increases with age.

Our Home Safety Visit referral form can be filled in here – it is a short form and once filled in, if eligible, you will be contacted by one of our team.

Dream becomes reality for Darnall and Rotherham fire volunteer

One of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s (SYFR) numerous fire volunteers saw their hard work pay off recently as they completed their initial firefighter recruits course.

Rob Hall – who first started as a fire cadet at Darnall fire station before becoming a volunteer cadet instructor there when he turned 18 – was part of the 61st group of trainees that graduated recently.

He had volunteered at Darnall, and subsequently Rotherham, from starting there in 2013 to the start of his firefighter training course earlier this year. Before starting his training Rob also spent around 4 months as the cadet branch manager at Stocksbridge fire station.

He is now at the start of what he hopes will be a long and rewarding firefighting career with SYFR and said his volunteering experience helped give him a realistic insight into the role of a modern-day firefighter.

He added: “People often think the role of a firefighter is zooming around in fire engines, rescuing cats from trees and pulling people from burning buildings. My volunteering experience showed me that it was about much more than that and that knowledge was really useful during the application and training process.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping others and volunteering gave me the opportunity to do just that. The most rewarding part for me was being able to see how the scheme benefited the cadets.

“I’ve seen some cadets join as really shy young people, who struggled to make new friends, but then leave with confidence and new friends – both of which will hopefully benefit them for years to come.

“For anybody thinking about getting involved in volunteering I would say go for it – it’s a fantastic experience and makes a real difference.”

Volunteer fire cadet instructors work with teenagers aged between 13 and 17-years-old and help them develop their self-confidence and life skills through fire and rescue related activity.

To find out more about being a volunteer email volunteers@syfire.gov.uk or visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/find-a-job/volunteering/.