South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Amazon voucher up for grabs as part of smoke alarm competition

Fancy an extra surprise gift this Christmas? Here’s your chance!

We are running a competition in which one lucky winner will bag themselves a £100 Amazon UK voucher.

To enter the competition, you must sign up for our smoke alarm testing reminders at pressthebutton.co.uk. This takes around 60 seconds to do.

On Friday 16 December 2022 we will draw a name at random from the list of people who have signed up for our reminders.

We’ll then contact the lucky winner and send across their voucher, just in time for the big day!

Terms and conditions

  1. The competition will close on Friday 16 December at 9am
  2. The competition is exclusively for South Yorkshire residents aged 18 or over
  3. The winner will be chosen at random from the list of numbers and email addresses signed up for the smoke alarm reminders
  4. We will contact the winner by 5pm on Friday 16 December – they will have 72 hours to accept their prize
  5. Should the winner not respond within the allotted time, a new winner will be picked at random
  6. The Amazon voucher – worth £100 only – will be sent via email in digital format
  7. South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue takes no responsibility for what is purchased with said voucher
  8. Any issues with the voucher, products or refunds must be handled through Amazon directly

Smoke alarm plea as ‘cost of living’ fires begin to surface

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging people to ‘save safely’ this winter and, importantly, ensure they have working carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in their homes.

The plea comes following recent incidents across the county where residents have burned inappropriate and potentially toxic materials to warm their homes, as opposed to using their usual method of heating.

One recent case saw an occupant overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of burning coal, in a tin bucket, in their living room.

And whilst fire officers recognise the financial squeeze that lots of people are currently facing, they are asking residents to not put themselves at risk.

“We know times are tough”

“We know times are tough for lots of people right now, but the pattern we are seeing around unsafe heating in homes is concerning,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“Our ask is that people ensure they save safely, take extra care when it comes to using things like log burners and electric blankets, and please don’t use tin buckets or small gas cylinders to heat your homes – they aren’t safe.

“We would then strongly urge people to ensure they have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted in their properties. These are life-saving devices that will give you early warning should you be at risk.”

Recent changes to the law mean that anyone in rented or council homes should be provided with a carbon monoxide detector by their landlord.

Meanwhile the fire service in South Yorkshire offers a completely free smoke alarm testing reminder service.

Residents simply have to input a phone number or email address and they will be reminded, each week, to ensure their alarms are working.

This, officers say, could potentially save a life further down the line.

“They really do save lives” 

“Smoke alarms don’t get the credit they deserve – they really do save lives. But they can only save you if they are working,” added Matt.

“By testing and dusting them regularly, you ensure they are working should you ever need them. And don’t just take our word for it, either.

“Our figures show that there have been 791 instances in the last three years where a smoke alarm has sounded and given occupants early warning of a fire in their home.

“Unfortunately, there were 430 cases where smoke alarms weren’t present or didn’t work. Needless to say, the fire damage was worse in these cases.”

You can sign up to the service’s free smoke alarm reminder service at pressthebutton.co.uk – doing so before the end of the year will see you entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Amazon gift voucher.

There is then more information on smoke alarms at www.syfire.gov.uk/smoke-alarms.

Emergency services make bonfire and firework safety plea

South Yorkshire’s police and fire services are urging people to be fire safe and 999 wise around Halloween and Bonfire Night this autumn.

This comes after the county’s firefighters saw an increase in call outs on Bonfire Night last year, compared to previous ‘Dark Night’ periods.

Crews were called to 96 incidents on Friday 5 November last year, compared to 80 on the same date in 2020 – an increase of 20 percent.

Many of these call outs involved bonfires that had grown out of control, and trees that had been set on fire by stray fireworks. Others involved cars and wheelie bins being set alight.

“We never aim to ruin anyone’s fun.”

“We always want people to enjoy Bonfire Night, and we never aim to ruin anyone’s fun, but it’s really important people are careful out there,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“This year we’re specifically asking people to stay with their bonfires, as leaving them unattended tends to end badly. We’re also asking people to ensure they are sensible in how they position their fireworks, so they are away from bushes and trees.

“Finally, we’d like to ask that people bring their bins in from off the street, and let us have any information on deliberate fire-setting that they may have.

“These details can be shared with us anonymously via our FireStoppers service – people just need to call 0800 169 5558 or visit firestoppersreport.co.uk.”

Since the start of October, police and fire staff have been doing joint patrols and visits to local schools and community centres, offering advice around Halloween and bonfire safety.

Meanwhile senior officers from South Yorkshire Police are also assuring local residents that they will be taking a no-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour this year.

“We are here for you if you need us.”

The force lead for what is known collectively as Operation Dark Nights, Chief Inspector Lee Carlson, said: “We want everybody to enjoy Halloween and Bonfire night; we know it can be an enjoyable time of the year for most people, but for some the festivities alongside the darker nights can make them feel vulnerable.

“We want you to know that whilst the majority of people will enjoy the period without any issues, the few people that do want to cause a problem will not be tolerated and our extra officers will be there to deal with them.

“Our Neighbourhood officers have already been in schools talking to young people about antisocial behaviour and the effect it can have on people living near them, as well as giving them guidance around keeping safe during dark nights.

“We hope you will all enjoy Halloween and Bonfire night and respect everybody around you. We will have officers out conducting extra patrols and we are here for you if you need us.”

The force is asking people to check who the right service is to contact about anti-social behaviour issues. Often things such as noise pollution are dealt with by local councils.

Anybody that needs the police or fire service in an emergency is still encouraged to call 999, and the police can be contacted on 101 around non-urgent issues.

You can find out more about what organisations are best to contact regards anti-social behaviour on the police’s website, here. 

Law changes to carbon monoxide alarm provision

Many landlords across South Yorkshire are now required to fit carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in their properties, following a change in the law.

As of Saturday 1 October 2022, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 require CO alarms to be installed in all rented accommodation and new build properties where there is a fixed combustion appliance. This excludes gas cookers.

Both private and social sector landlords will be required to provide the alarms, and they will have a duty to repair or replace faulty alarms upon being informed of any issues.

These regulations apply specifically to homes in England, which has followed in the footsteps of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in mandating the installation of CO detectors.

Where landlords do not comply with the requirements, Local Authorities have the power to issue penalty notices and fines of up to £5,000.

“As a fire service we have seen a number of examples where people have tragically died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and we absolutely welcome these new regulations,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of South Yorkshire’s joint police and fire community safety department.

“The cost of a new carbon monoxide alarm for landlords is considerably less than the potential fine, but we hope that landlords opt to install detectors because it’s the right thing to do, not just because of the potential financial penalty.”

Carbon monoxide alarms alert households to dangerous levels of exposure to what is known as the silent killer.

The poisonous gas forms when carbon-based fuels are burnt. Examples within a typical home include fires, stoves and gas appliances (such as boilers).

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, feeling sick, being sick, feeling weak or having chest and muscle pain. Excessive amounts of the gas can come from appliances that aren’t installed properly, are faulty or poorly maintained.

Using disposable BBQs or camping stoves inside houses (or tents), or turning lawnmowers or cars on inside a garage, can also cause a build-up of carbon monoxide.

Anyone who is suffering from the symptoms listed above should contact NHS on 111.

Anyone who thinks their gas appliance is leaking excessive carbon monoxide should contact the National Gas Helpline on 0800 111 999.

Her Majesty The Queen – fire service statement

It is with enormous sadness that the service notes the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.

The firefighters and staff of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue extend our most humble condolences to all of the Royal Family.

The service, and our country, stands together as we honour Her Majesty’s passing and reflect on the legacy of an incredible reign filled with patriotism, leadership and an unwavering duty to public service.

Her Majesty has been an inspiration to the fire and rescue service throughout her reign and, like other local public services, we will be taking the appropriate steps to mark her passing and express our condolences in the coming days.

  • Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby

Can you fill these boots? Service issues rallying cry to local residents

Residents in Rossington, Stocksbridge, Askern, Penistone and Dearne are being challenged to step up and join their local fire crews, as the county’s fire service launches another on-call firefighter recruitment drive.

New vacancies have arisen at the stations in each of these four towns – with more staff needed to keep the fire engines’ wheels turning and respond to fires, floods, road traffic collisions and other emergency incidents.

Fire officers say there has never been a better time to join the service, with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue being rated as one of the country’s leading fire and rescue services in its last Government inspection.

“Our message to local people is simple – we need them!” said Station Manager Chris Tyler, who oversees the service’s on-call fire stations.

“On-call firefighters get the same training as wholetime staff, but they don’t work shifts. Instead, they carry a pager and respond from work and home when needed.

“This is one of the most unique jobs in the world as it requires a huge amount of commitment, bravery and determination.

“What we are asking is for people to consider making themselves available to respond to emergencies on top of their existing jobs and personal family commitments.

“It’s a big ask, but it’s also a huge opportunity and an exciting time to join our service. We need incredible people to fill our boots, and we know they are out there somewhere.”

Prospective on-call firefighters are required to live or work within five minutes of their local station, so they are able to get on the fire engine quickly if needed.

Calls can come in at all times of day and night – with existing staff claiming the adrenaline rush that comes with getting a call is one of the best parts of the job.

On-call crews are used right across the country to provide fire cover to more remote areas, with firefighters getting a ‘retainer fee’ for being on stand by, plus an hourly rate on top.

Recently, on-call staff have been involved in battling the flurry of wildfires attended by the service during the July and August heatwaves.

Officers say that without them, the service wouldn’t be able to run.

“We’ve long known how valuable our on-call crews are, but you only have to look at the heatwave we experienced in July to see how important they are.

“Some of our staff finished a day at work, got changed and then got on the fire engine to help deal with the unprecedented demand we faced – on the hottest day of the year.

“Their commitment is incredible and I’d encourage anyone who feels they would like a challenge to get on our website and give us their details. We’ll be in touch.”

You can register your interest in an on-call role with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue on the service’s website, here.

Smoke alarms and sprinklers combine to save Doncaster resident

The combination of working smoke alarms and retro-fitted sprinklers have prevented a potentially fatal fire in a Doncaster flat.

Firefighters were mobilised to Shaftesbury House, Doncaster, at 1.05am on Thursday 25 August, following a call from a resident.

This resident reports leaving their chip pan on the hob before falling asleep. Whilst asleep, the chip pan overheated and set light.

Working smoke alarms alerted the resident to the fire, prompting them to call 999 for help. At the same time, the sprinkler system activated – fully extinguishing the blaze.

Upon the arrival of fire crews, only some minor smoke logging in the flat remained. Nobody was harmed in the incident and the resident was quickly moved into a nearby flat.

“This is yet another clear example of how sprinklers can save lives and save property,” said Roger Brason, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s lead sprinkler advocate.

“When the sprinklers were installed at Shaftesbury House and other high-rise buildings in Doncaster we said we were delighted, and this is why.

“Had it not been for the sprinkler system, this fire would have spread very quickly and could have caused significant damage to the property and, potentially, seriously hurt the occupant.

“Credit should also go to the working smoke alarms which alerted the resident who was asleep at the time of the fire. Together, these are two amazing devices.”

The sprinkler system in this flat was installed in 2019 as part of a joint initiative between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, St Leger Homes and Doncaster Council.

This initiative saw all three partner agencies come together to get sprinkler systems retrospectively fitted in all nine high-rise residential buildings across the Doncaster district.

Dave Richmond, Chief Executive of St Leger Homes, said: “This incident shows the effectiveness of the high-rise fire safety measures that we have put in place, and how important sprinkler systems are in safeguarding people and their homes.

“We will be providing help and support to the household affected and we strongly encourage all tenants to be careful about preventing fire in their home.”

Following several national examples showing the value of sprinklers in tower blocks, they are now mandatory in new residential buildings that are 11 or more metres in height.

Public asked to do their bit ahead of second heatwave

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging members of the public to be extra careful over the coming days, following a new extreme heat warning from the Met Office.

The national weather forecaster has also raised the fire severity risk level to ‘exceptional’ for some parts of the country – in addition to its four-day Amber weather warning.

This has prompted South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s fire officers to issue another plea to the public around helping to prevent any more wildfires across the county.

They are asking people to stop having garden bonfires during the period of extreme heat, refrain from taking disposable BBQs out with them and to ensure they don’t leave rubbish – especially glass bottles – lying around.

Specifically, officers are asking people to consider the impact of their behaviour and, ultimately, wildfires, on things like the local landscape and wildlife.

“During periods of intense heat the ground becomes so dry – this means that fires are easier to start and will spread so much quicker,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint fire and police community safety department.

“Our ask of people is, first and foremost, that they don’t burn rubbish in their garden over the coming days. During a heatwave these small fires can easily get out of hand.

“We’re then asking that, especially this coming weekend, people don’t take disposable BBQs out with them to parks, fields or moorland areas. Whilst we know most people are very responsible, the risk of wildfire is literally as high as it can possibly be right now.

“And then last but not least, please take your litter home with you or put it in the bin. This one may seem random, but glass bottles in particular can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires.

“Ultimately we want people to consider the impact of their actions on not just us, but also on local wildlife. When you’re out in the countryside and in moorland areas, you are in their home, and what starts as a small fire can easily grow bigger and see them displaced.”

This latest plea comes after the service’s control room was inundated with calls late last month on what some people are terming ‘heatwave day’ – where temperatures hit 40 degrees in some parts of the country.

Across the 24 hours of that day – Tuesday 19 July – fire control operators in South Yorkshire took 2,000 direct calls, more than 1,500 of which were in relation to emergency incidents.

The service described the levels of demand as ‘unprecedented’ – with Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kirby, issuing a statement afterwards to thank staff for going above and beyond.

As well as urging people to be careful with things like BBQs and not to have garden bonfires, the service is also asking residents to be vigilant around deliberate fire-setting.

“Lots of the incidents we attended in July were started deliberately, which is really disappointing, but unfortunately not a huge surprise to us.

“Our final ask of the public is that if they know anyone who is intentionally setting fires – which tie up our crews and can put people at serious risk – then they report it to us.”

Residents can share information on arson, anonymously, by calling 0800 169 5558.

Service launches new online home safety check system

With a cost of living crisis currently sweeping across the country, South Yorkshire’s fire service has doubled down on its efforts to keep people safe.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is today, Friday 1 July, launching a new online home safety check service which allows residents to explore whether they are at particular risk of fire.

This home safety assessment system will supplement the virtual home safety check service that fire officers launched last year.

This means that hundreds of thousands of local people are now able to self-assess their fire risk at no personal cost to them.

“We are proud that our community safety and education work has led to a huge reduction in house fires over the last decade, but we know we have to do more. This is especially the case given the current cost of living crisis,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of community safety.

“This new online tool, along with our virtual safety check system, means that home safety assessments are available for everyone – regardless of your risk level.

“Our ask is for everyone to take five minutes to run through one of these checks. Even if you don’t think you’re at risk, it’s always worth checking and taking on board our advice.

“Unfortunately, our experience shows that fire can hit anywhere, at any time. And it can be physically, emotionally, mentally and financially devastating.

“Finding a few minutes right now could potentially save you a lot of hassle and pain in the future. For you and your family.”

The software for the online home safety check system has been made available to all fire services across the United Kingdom, by the National Fire Chief’s Council.

Senior fire officers hope that the new system will soon be adopted all over the country, leading to a standardised and consistent approach to identifying and logging home safety issues.

When running through the online checks, users will be asked a range of interactive questions about their home, their family and their lifestyle.

They will then be invited to book an in-person visit if they meet the criteria.

The initial online check takes around two minutes to complete, before a decision is made around eligibility. Residents are then invited to provide information around individual rooms.

You can find out more and take a check yourself at www.syfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/request-a-visit.

Kids talk about firefighting dads in new campaign video

The children of South Yorkshire firefighters have spoken about their ‘kind’, ‘loving’ and ‘brave’ dads in a brand new campaign video from the county’s fire service.

Filmed as part of International Father’s Mental Health Day (IFMHD), the video features five youngsters talking about the things they love about their dads – all of whom are serving firefighters.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) says it has produced the video in a bid to show that, beneath the tough outer shell, every firefighter is a normal and vulnerable human being.

The service is also hoping to highlight and support the messaging around IFMHD – which is that men can also experience postpartum depression and may need support of their own.

“We know that society generally views men as stoic and strong, especially those who work within the fire, police and military services. However, we are still only human, like anyone else,” said Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kirby.

“We want to make it clear to any men working for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, and in fact all men living across the county, that it is ok to talk if you’re struggling.

“We also wanted to support the messaging given out around Father’s Mental Health Day – which is that even the strongest of men can suffer from conditions such as postnatal depression.

“Whoever you are and whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. Help is out there.”

The fire service’s backing for this Father’s Day themed campaign comes after years of work to improve the health and wellbeing support offered to firefighters across South Yorkshire.

An employee assistance programme, which offers help on a range of issues from finance to family life, is one of the key systems the service has put in place recently.

Firefighters can then also benefit from a critical incident wellbeing support programme, which involves specially trained members of staff visiting crews that have been involved in potentially upsetting incidents.

These things are offered to staff on top of the service’s existing provision – which includes a full-time occupational health department and an onus on managers to look after their staff.

The service has also supported Andy’s Man Club for many years, and has recently launched a mental health walking group for male emergency service staff – both serving and retired.

The video can be viewed here on the SYFR YouTube channel.

Anybody in need of support or someone to talk to can contact Samaritans on 116 123 – their service is completely free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.