Fire service work scheme changing lives of autistic volunteers

A fire service volunteer has gained vital life and social skills thanks to a scheme which helps people with autism.

The Autism Centre for Supported Employment, is a small charity which supports adults with autism, aspersers and learning disabilities into paid employment and work experience placements.

James Guy, from Sheffield, has been volunteering at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, through the scheme, since November 2016, working in the Prevention and Protection department at headquarters in Sheffield, one day a week.

His role involves scanning fire safety plans and data inputting.  James learnt the process very quickly and has scanned nearly 1,000 plans over the last six months.

James, who has autism, says he loves his work at the fire service, citing feelings of value, respect and teamwork for improving his wellbeing.

James, 34, is learning and gaining new skills in a safe environment with staff that he trusts and who have the skills and training to understand and support his needs.

James Guy said; “I like to meet everybody at work and they are very friendly with me, I enjoy the scanning and feel proud that I am working for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

Sue Butler, Volunteering Co-ordinator at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue said: “James has continued to show excellent commitment to his volunteering role and has learned a lot of new skills since starting work with us which will set him up with important employment skills which he will be able to transfer to future jobs.  The team he works in are really supportive of him, and James seems to love working with them.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have seven autistic adults volunteering in many different roles throughout the service including scanning, data inputting, filing, assisting the caretaker, working the canteen and much more.

If you are interested in volunteering for South Yorkshire & Fire & Rescue call 0114 253 2413.

Fire service safety advice during the Islamic festival

The fire service is calling on South Yorkshire’s Muslim communities to take extra care ahead of one of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue fears people are more likely to be at risk of fire during Ramadan, which is now underway and ends on 25 June.

Ramadan lasts for 30 days and is observed by fasting during daylight hours, with cooking taking place before sunrise or after sunset.

Head of community safety Trevor Bernard, said: “We recognise this is a really important time in the Islamic calendar, but want to make sure people observe it safely. In particular, people should take extra care to keep an eye on their cooking, as fasting could leave you feeling tired and more likely to become distracted or have an accident.

“Smoke alarms are the best way of making sure that if a fire does occur, you have the vital extra minutes to escape. So make sure smoke alarms are fitted on every level of your home and test them regularly.

“It’s also vital that if the smoke alarms do sound, everyone in the house knows what to do and knows how to escape, so talk this through with your family and loved ones.”

Top tips for staying safe during Ramadan include:

  • Cooking– Half of all house fires start in the kitchen, so take extra care when cooking, particularly with hot oil – it sets alight easily
  • Never throw water on a burning pan– in the event of a fire get out, stay out and call 999
  • Take extra care with clothing– make sure hijaabs, shalwar, kameez and saris are kept well away from the hob
  • Practise escape routes– and make sure every member of your family knows it well
  • Have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home– test them weekly to make sure they work.

For more fire safety information visit www.syfire.gov.uk

Safer Roads Partnership supporting the National Roads Policing motorcycle week of action

The South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster Councils, will be supporting the National Roads Policing Motorcycle Week of Action with a series of events this Bank Holiday Weekend for riders.  On Saturday 27 May, they will be at J&S Accessories in Doncaster and on Sunday 28 May, they will be at SMC Sheffield.

Drivers as well as riders will be targeted over the week of action, raising the awareness of all road users to be more vigilant of each other during the busier summer months when more scooters and motorbikes are on the roads.

With the support of the local dealerships, the Safer Roads Partnership and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue will be promoting further training that is available to riders in the county and distributing free summer rider packs, which will include buffs, ear plugs, visor wipes and reflective rucksack covers.

Joanne Wehrle, Education Manager for the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said “With the improving weather we find that more riders are ‘out and about’ on the county’s roads, from commuting to work to leisurely ride-outs, our aim at the events is to provide free help and advice to riders of all capacity machines, promoting further training as a great tool to increase their enjoyment of riding.”

Dave Newton, Road Traffic Collision Reduction Officer for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stated, “By raising the awareness of all road users our aim is to ensure that everyone makes it back safely to their loved ones.  Drivers need to remember to look twice for riders while riders need to be aware of their own road positioning to drivers.  Let’s remember to share the roads.

“With both events, our Officers will be on hand to offer free help and advice, members from Sheffield Advanced Motorcyclists will be available to talk about their training and trips, ride-outs, while J&S and SMC will be able to assist with any bike related queries.”

Further information about this weekend’s events is available on the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership Facebook page.

Firefighters’ Everly Pregnant single raises thousands for charity

A chart topping bid by firefighters has raised thousands of pounds for two local causes.

Central red watch and 999 operators at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue were part of a daring drive to reach the top of the Christmas charts with ‘Chip Pan’ by the Everly Pregnant Brothers.

Thousands of people bought the track and after a delay whilst official download figures were collated, the band has revealed that the track has raised £4,311, which will be split between Shelter and Age UK Sheffield.

Although the track didn’t reach the festive song summit, it helped raise awareness of kitchen fire safety amongst millions of people.

Highlights of the assault on the yuletide music chart included two national television appearances and more than five million views online for a video which accompanies the song. Leaders, businesses and celebrities from across Sheffield also threw in their support for the campaign.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Both our staff and the South Yorkshire public really got behind this campaign. Although it was just a bit of fun, albeit with a serious safety message at its heart, it’s fantastic that the song will have a lasting impact on local people having raised such a lot of money for two great causes, both of which are closely linked to our work supporting the most vulnerable people in society.”

Bluebell Smith, community fundraising manager of Age UK Sheffield said; “We’re so grateful to the Everly Pregnant Brothers and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for raising over £2,000 for Age UK Sheffield. With the single being realised just before Christmas, it really raised awareness about the support we offer during a time that can be exceptionally difficult for older people, particularly those who are lonely or isolated. Everyone across the organisation loved getting involved, and even our customers at the Wellbeing Centre were singing the song and wearing a ‘Me Chip Pans On Fire’ T-Shirt!”

Everly Pregnant Brothers’ band member Klive Humberstone said; “It’s a privilege being in a position to help raise money for two great charities, the fact we had a reyt laugh in the process was an added bonus. We doff our hats to the gang at Red Watch for being great sports and being just as daft as us.”

Chris Taylor, Sheffield team leader at Shelter said; “We are really grateful to the Everly Pregnant Brothers for donating half of the proceeds from Chip Pan to our services in Sheffield, and thankful also to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for publicising the track. The donation will help us make a tangible difference to Sheffield people who are in real need of support and advice with their housing problems.”

Team programme success as young people turn their lives around

A number of young people are now in work or education thanks to the success of the emergency services run Prince’s Trust Programme.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP) teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Prince’s Trust Team Programme two years ago. During that time around 75 young people have benefited from the 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

Individuals gained new skills, mixed with new people and made new friends, they were given help with job-hunting and CV writing and most importantly a big boost to their confidence and a real sense of achievement.

Past participants are now championing the programme, with their new lives and careers ahead of them these young people are encouraging others to take their first step and to sign up for this life changing experience.

Lee Niven, a member of our first Team Programme in Barnsley, managed to secure an apprenticeship with Network Rail while on the course, which has now led to full time employment as part of the Network Rail’s emergency response team and is gaining valuable qualifications which will secure his future.

Lee Niven said; “Without the support of the team leaders, the Prince’s Trust and the Fire and Police service I would not have had the confidence to go for this role. I would recommend this programme to everybody who needs a step up in life.”

Tara Nortcliffe was part of Team 3 at Barnsley she said; “After a successful work placement through the programme at a care home I was really pleased when they offered me a full time job.  This is the field that I have always wanted to work in.

“I have had a difficult few years but being on the Prince’s Trust programme helped me overcome all the barriers that I had faced and now look forward to the future.”

Emma Salt was a member of Team 3 at Barnsley and at the end of the course was able to secure a job at Barnsley Football club on match days and also works in the restaurant there.

Emma said; “I really enjoyed the Prince’s Trust programme, I made loads of new friends and my confidence has just grown.  I want to help others get the same experience as me which is why I have now volunteered with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police to help run the Team Programme.”

We are now recruiting for the next Team Programme’s based in Dearne and Barnsley, to be part of it and to take that first step contact John Daley on 07769 887249 or princestrust@syfire.gov.uk.

More details can be found on the South Yorkshire Police website here www.southyorks.police.uk/princestrust

Follow updates on Twitter at #PrincesTrust

Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvSKmcRN_Qc

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Prince’s Trust Team graduates with emergency services honours

Fifteen young people have successfully graduated from the Prince’s Trust Team Programme having completed a challenging 12 week programme.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP) teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Prince’s Trust Team Programme. Team is a 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

The young people have all been thrown out of their comfort zone during the last few weeks, participating in a week-long residential in the Peak District, transforming the area around Manvers Lake as part of their community project and learning new skills in individual work placements.

The graduation which was held at Rotherham Town Hall was a celebration of all their hard work and efforts. It was attended by their friends and family as well as local dignitaries.

SYP Assistant Team Leader Sarah Hague said; “I am really proud of the whole group, throughout the Team Programme the young people have experienced a sense of achievement which has inspired them to move forward with new confidence and ambition. We wish them all the luck for their future.”

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “The last 12 weeks have been about building the confidence of these young people and equipping them with the skills qualifications and experience to find employment and build better lives for themselves. From classes in CV building to work placements we have been able to offer participants crucial skills and insights they otherwise may never have experienced. I am truly proud of the role the fire service has played in helping these young people aspire to a better future.”

Would you like to be part of the next Team Programme?  We are now recruiting for members in Rotherham and Barnsley, to be part of the Team or for further details contact John Daley on 07769 887249 or princestrust@syfire.gov.uk.

South Yorkshire firefighter saves life of Leicester City football fan

An off-duty South Yorkshire firefighter has helped to save the life of a football fan during Leicester City’s Champions’ League triumph over Sevilla this week.

Caz Whiteman, a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) firefighter currently based at the service’s training centre, was in the crowd for the match at Leicester’s King Power Stadium on Tuesday night when a fellow spectator collapsed with a suspected heart attack.

Caz, who was sat nearby, immediately rushed to support pitch side first aiders and deliver cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for more than 15 minutes until he was taken to hospital by ambulance. The man, who has three children, is now making a full recovery.

Caz said: “My seats were just three rows from the front of the pitch and just as the teams were starting to come out for the second half, I noticed that a spectator was in difficulty. I came down to the front of the pitch to see what I could do to help and it became clear he had suffered a heart attack and gone into cardiac arrest. Along with the pitch side medics, I cleared his airway and immediately performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.

“This is where the skills I’ve picked up from my day job really came into their own. Firefighters already have the skills and knowledge to provide effective first responder care in emergency situations, particularly at incidents were we may arrive on scene before paramedics. My actions were a natural, instinctive reaction to the situation in front of me. Anyone with the right skills and training would have done the same thing. But I’m just so relieved that he has made it and I wish him well for a full recovery.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “I already know that we employ an incredible selection of individuals who perform brilliantly, day in, day out, to keep our communities safe. But Caz’s brilliant quick thinking and life saving actions really did go above and beyond the call of duty and highlight that, in some ways, a firefighter is never ‘off duty’. The skills and training we give our crews stay with them for life, which this inspiring, life saving story confirms.”

Prince’s Trust team transforms Barnsley theatre

A team of young people taking part in a major local youth development programme have unveiled their hard work and transformation of a community theatre.

The group, who are taking part in the Prince’s Trust Team Programme have spent the last week tidying, cleaning and decorating the changing room and corridor area at the Dearne Playhouse on Washington Street in Goldthorpe.

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is being delivered by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police from Barnsley fire station. Team Programme is a 12 week course for unemployed 16 to 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical training and a residential development week.

The programme encourages the young people to nominate their own community project, with those on the current scheme choosing to transform this well loved community theatre for the local people.  The backstage area has now been brightened up and is a calming place for the thousands of young children and adults using the theatres facilities each year.

The group were able to fund the transformation after raising cash from a raffle and a bag pack at Asda the week before.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Leader Rhian Oxley said: “Team Programme is about more than simply boosting young people’s employment skills. It gives them hope, confidence and the opportunity to make a difference.

“The community project the young people have been involved in is the perfect proof of that aspiration and we hope the sense of achievement it gives them will give them the self-belief which they can transfer to their future lives.”

Young people launch fire service funded film to tackle anti-social behaviour

A fire service funded film project is helping to tackle anti-social behaviour in South Yorkshire.

The Salvation Army, in partnership with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP), has been working with a group of young people from Aston Academy, Handsworth Grange Community Sports College and Outwood Academy City to create the film called ‘The Power of Pressure’. A series of workshops were designed to give them the skills and confidence to explore how making the wrong decisions can affect the lives of young people and their families and then supporte the group in putting this difficult subject to film.

The project and film aims to reduce the levels of anti-social behaviour and protect the most vulnerable people, as well as educating young people on drugs and alcohol. It is hoped that schools and colleges will use the film to start discussions around the topics addressed.

The film has this week been launched at an Oscar themed night at the SYFR’s Training and Development Centre, to an audience including the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Denise Fox and Fire Authority Members along with family and friends.

The Salvation Army were awarded £5,910 for the project under the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s funding scheme, Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

The fund saw dozens of registered charities, community organisations and partner agencies come forward and apply for grants from the £2 million fund, which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves. Groups were able to bid for as little as £5,000 or as much as £150,000 to support projects which reduce injuries, save lives and make South Yorkshire safer.

SYFR Head of Prevention & Protection Steve Helps said: “Anti social behaviour can put a big strain on local communities, so preventative measures are becoming more important than ever.  This film will be a great tool to educate and inspire young people to make the correct life choices.”

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Denise Fox said; “‘This project has been a real example of partnership in action between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, South Yorkshire Police and the Salvation Army. The young people have been supported to make this film, and I would like to congratulate them for their hard work and commitment.

“They will be an inspiration to their friends and family, highlighting important life lessons about making the right choices, and the consequences of making the wrong choices.”

Housing providers given extra time to bid for fire service sprinkler funding

South Yorkshire housing providers are being given extra time to access fire service funding to support the installation of sprinklers in high-risk homes.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) attends dozens of serious house fires every year in social housing and sheltered accommodation.

To help tackle the problem and increase the number of sprinkler systems fitted across the county, earlier this year SYFR launched a  £1 million fund to encourage more housing providers to install them in buildings lived in by those residents most at risk from fire.

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “We’re pleased that several organisations have already come forward to take advantage of this scheme, but we have also listened to feedback from other potential partners who have requested more time to scope and research appropriate funding bids.

“Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making homes safer – they stop fires from spreading, put them out quickly and save lives. We are especially concerned about those people who are most at risk of fire such as those with mobility or mental health problems or people with dementia who may not know how to react, or be able to react quickly enough, if they hear a smoke alarm.”

The installation of sprinkler systems in new build homes is now mandatory in Wales and SYFR is actively promoting the use of this type of protection in all types of buildings to build resilience and safety into local communities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund is open to any social  or private housing provider. It will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.  It forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

For more information on how to submit a funding bid contact bfsadmin@syfire.gov.uk