South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

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Retailer Boyes first to sign up to new business fire safety partnership scheme

A major UK retailer has become the first business to sign-up to a new fire service partnership scheme in South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) will work with department store chain Boyes as part of the initiative, which will see fire service experts providing the company with safety advice the company can adopt across its sites nationwide.

Partnerships like this, also available to other organisations, are known as Primary Authority Schemes (PAS) and allow the fire service and businesses to come together to improve the quality and consistency of safety and prevention measures.

The schemes also help to cut red tape for larger businesses, by streamlining their compliance with fire safety laws.

SYFR Business Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “Boyes is a well known local business with strong Yorkshire roots. It has since expanded its operations and now runs 59  department stores throughout the north of England so we are pleased to be working with them to ensure that fire safety compliance is effective and consistent across the company.

“Primary Authority Schemes are a brilliant tool for helping us to work more closely with companies who are proactive about delivering on their fire safety duties and we hope to sign agreements with further businesses to work with them in this way.”

Boyes opened its first shop in Scarborough in 1881 and operates 59 stores across the UK and is due to open its 60th store at the end of November at Firth Park in Sheffield.

Boyes Safety Manager, Vivienne Sheader said: “The safety of our customers and staff is very important to us. We are delighted to have established this relationship which was first suggested to us following a successful routine fire audit that was carried out by SYFR in our Doncaster store.

“Our business is growing every year and to have a single point of reference that is recognised by every local fire authority enables us to apply consistent fire safety standards across all of our buildings.”

Primary Authority Schemes are statutory schemes, established by the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (the RES Act). It allows an eligible business to form a legally recognised partnership with a single local authority in relation to regulatory compliance. This local authority is then known as its ‘primary authority’.

Primary authorities play a valuable role in leading and shaping the regulation of businesses that partner with them. In doing so, they deliver benefits for the regulatory system as a whole, for the businesses they partner with, and for those that the regulations are designed to protect – consumers, workers and the environment. Primary authorities, including fire and rescue services, are able to charge for this service on a cost recovery basis.

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Fire Kills campaign urges us all to test the smoke alarms in our homes now and every month

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR), as part of the Fire Kills Campaign, is urging people to test their smoke alarms after research showed that only 28% of all households who own one test them on a regular basis.

Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps of SYFR said: “You’re at least seven times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have any working smoke alarms.  However, only 28% of the people who own an alarm say they take the time to test it at least monthly.”

There were 229 fire-related deaths in the home last year. The Fire Kills campaign hopes that by encouraging everyone to test their smoke alarms more deaths could be prevented.

Steve Helps added, “I’d encourage people in South Yorkshire to make sure you test your smoke alarms today and get into the habit of testing them each month as they can save you and your family’s life.  In the event of a fire, working smoke alarms will give you the valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.”

The campaign is running for one month across outdoor, print, digital, social media and radio to raise awareness during the winter months when there is an increase in fire-related incidents and deaths.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe, SYFR offers these simple steps:

  • Test your smoke alarms now or when you get home
  • Make sure you fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly, even if they’re wired into the mains.
  • Whatever happens, never remove the batteries in your smoke alarms unless you are replacing them. Some require new batteries every year.
  • Plan and practise an escape route and make sure that everyone in your home knows it.
  • In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Test others smoke alarms who are unable to test their own

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Successful start for new joint emergency services team in Sheffield

A joint fire and police team set up to reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield has already visited hundreds of homes in the city, three months after it first launched.

The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, also supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, is half way through a six month pilot which sees staff visit homes to reduce fire risk in properties, improve security and help people who have fallen.

So far the team has carried out 101 crime prevention checks and 191 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms.

The team also responds to help people at high volume, lower priority incidents, including helping 26 people who have had a fall, are not seriously injured, but are unable to get up on their own.

The team has also helped find two missing people and visited vulnerable people who have either been victims of crime or are at risk of anti-social behaviour.

Some of this work traditionally takes police officers and paramedics off the road for many hours.

SYFR Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps, said: “This is a very encouraging start for a brand new team, which proves emergency services are working together locally to help make people safer and healthier.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work.”

Chief Inspector Jenny Lax from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The team have made a promising start and are working really well together to reduce the vulnerability of people in our communities and improve their quality of life”

The team operates using two specialist vehicles and consists of four staff – two South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue employees and two South Yorkshire Police community support officers (PCSOs).

The scheme has been funded by South Yorkshire Fire Authority for six months and researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been commissioned to evaluate its effectiveness. If successful, it could be extended and taken to other parts of South Yorkshire.

Last year the Government announced new proposals to transform the way the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work together. It wants to encourage collaboration by introducing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

In South Yorkshire, fire crews already attend hundreds of ‘medical break-ins’ every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them. This work used to be carried out by the police.

Work has also now started on a joint police and fire station in Maltby, whilst five ambulance stand-by points will also be created at five other fire service premises across the county.

‘Go to an organised display’ safety plea as bonfire night approaches

The fire service is repeating its annual safety call as thousands of people in South Yorkshire prepare to mark bonfire night.

Though the fireworks period is traditionally one of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s busiest, call outs to small, deliberate fires on November 5 are now down to a quarter of what they were ten years ago.

Fire service managers hope that by continuing to work with partners to educate youngsters and reduce call outs the public will remain safe.

In the run up to bonfire night, fire service staff have been issuing safety advice and leaflets to residents about firework safety, as well as reminding retailers not to sell fireworks to under 18s.

Officers have also been assisting with the removal of waste which could be used to light illegal bonfires and have been working closely with local trading standards to cut out illegal fireworks sales.

Our Community Safety teams have been visiting schools across the county talking to children about the dangers of fireworks and the consequences of anti social behaviour.

Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “The best way to enjoy bonfire night is to attend an organised display. The bonfires are bigger, the fireworks are better and they are a lot safer.

“If you are intent on holding your own display, the advice is simple. Only buy British Standard marked fireworks, follow the instructions on the box and site any bonfires well away from buildings.”

The fire service’s top three tips for staying safe this bonfire night are:

1. Attend organised displays – they’re much safer than holding your own
2. Only buy fireworks from reputable retailers and never from people on the street
3. Light bonfires well away from sheds, fences, bushes and trees

Princes Trust team transforms community boxing club

Young people taking part in a major local youth development programme have unveiled their transformation of a local boxing club in Cudworth.

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme which is being delivered by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police from Barnsley fire station is the first scheme of its kind to be jointly run by the police and fire services anywhere in the UK.

Team Programme is a 12 week personal course for unemployed 16 to 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical training and a residential development week.

The programme asks the young people to nominate their own community project, with those on the current scheme choosing to renovate the boxing club, which has been run for the last 40 years by local man Fred Gummerson.

The makeover of the club has included cleaning the grounds, removing the overgrown vegetation and painting the railings. While inside the team have been busy painting the training area and adding a mural to the wall.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Leader Rhian Oxley said; “Our Team Programme is about giving hope and confidence to the young people and an opportunity to improve their chances of gaining further education or employment.

“Hopefully their efforts here will inspire members of the local community to continue using the facility, securing this resource for future generations.”

A second Team Programme is also running currently from Dearne fire station.

MP visits project to transform Swinton as part of fire & police youth development scheme

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey met young people taking part in a major local youth development programme last week- the first scheme of its kind to be jointly run by the police and fire services anywhere in the UK.

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is being delivered by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police from Dearne fire station.

Team Programme is a 12 week personal course for unemployed 16 to 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical training and a residential development week.

The programme also gets young people to nominate their own community project, with those on the current scheme choosing to transform the centre of Swinton- fixing benches, clearing graffiti, picking litter and planting trees and flowers.

John Healey MP said: “Young people are the future of this area and it is fantastic that both fire and police are working together to transform not only the lives of those on this programme, but also the places where they live.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Leader John Daley 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 are involved in this week 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.”

A second Team Programme is also running currently from Barnsley fire station.

Fire safety call for students to ditch door wedges

Fire safety bosses are calling on Sheffield’s student to ditch door wedges and use a packet of biscuits instead to make friends.

The safety plea comes as experts fear the city’s new arrivals could be tempted to wedge open fire doors which are meant to keep them safe in the event of a major blaze.

Reports from elsewhere in the country suggest that some student marketing companies actually provide door wedges in a bid to make it easier for students to make friends.

But South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue business fire safety officers say fire doors in large, student accommodation blocks are there for a reason.

Business Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “Fire doors are a crucial part of the passive fire protection of every commercial, public and multiple occupancy building. They save lives and property and should never be propped open. They are designed to stop a fire spreading as fast, which is especially important in accommodation like student complexes where multiple people live.

“We’re aware of some people around the country providing door wedges to promote friendship, but suggest that there are safer and more effective ways of making new friends- from a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits, to sharing some music or a film.”

Other tips for students to keep them safe from fire include:

• Don’t cook under the influence of alcohol- buy a takeaway after a night out instead
• Switch off electrical appliances like mobile chargers, laptops and hair straighteners when not in use
• Plan and practice an escape route with your house mates. In the event of a fire- get out, stay out and dial 999
• Never leave candles unattended and keep them away from curtains, drapes and clothes

Fire service volunteer lands full time job

A former volunteer turned fire service employee has hailed the strength of the organisation’s volunteering scheme after it helped build his skills and experience to land a full time role.

In 2013, Ben Williamson became an Assistant Fire Cadet Instructor after being a Fire Cadet for a number of years. Wanting to work further with the fire service he became a Fire Support Volunteer within the Community Safety department, assisting and supporting the fire service safety teams by helping out at events, carrying out Home Safety Checks and fitting smoke alarms for members of the public.

Ben soon became a valued member of the team, and it was here that he gained the skills and experience required to further his career within the fire service.

A full time vacancy became available and his drive and determination spurred him on to apply for the permanent post of Maintenance Operative Driver. Ben was successful and became a paid member of staff in September 2016.

Ben said; “Without volunteering I would never have developed the skills and confidence that secured me this role. Volunteering has changed my life and has benefited me in many ways and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Sue Butler, Volunteering Co-Ordinator at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue said; “Ben is a shining example of how volunteering helps out the local community and the individual themselves. Ben has gone from strength to strength and the knowledge and skills he acquired during his time as a volunteer was a large factor in his gaining full time employment within the service. We are all really proud of him and wish him all the best in his career.”

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

Farm fires warning after summer blazes spike

Fire officers are urging farmers to take steps to protect their livelihoods, after a large number of farm blazes in the last three months.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has attended 39 fires since June, either on farm sites or involving crops in fields.

Many of those fires were started deliberately, with most farms’ isolated locations, open boundaries and easily ignitable materials like hay and straw making them particularly vulnerable to arson.

More than 1,600 farm buildings are lost to fire each year in the UK, costing farmers thousands of pounds in lost machinery, crops and livestock.

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “We get called to dozens of field and farm fires each year in South Yorkshire, with many of these fires occurring around harvesting time.

“Not only do fires like this put lives at risk by potentially diverting fire engines away from other, life threatening incidents, they also cost farmers thousands of pounds in damage.

“The maximum sentence for arson is life in prison. People do get caught and do get prosecuted, so we urge people to report arsonists to the police”.

To help prevent fires, farmers are being asked to:

Remove hay and straw as soon as possible after harvesting
Store fuels, fertilisers and pesticides securely – preferably under lock and key
Check unoccupied and remote areas of the farm to make sure they are safe and secure

Anyone with information about people starting fires in their area should call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Fire Service funded waste food scheme wins national award

A fire service funded waste food project has won a national industry award for sustainability.

The Doncaster based Real Junk Food project campaigns to end food waste and runs a ‘pay as you feel’ cafe catering for people who use food banks and struggle with the cost of food.

The Real Junk Food Project is run entirely by volunteers and was voted as the community winner at the Footprint Awards ceremony held in London recently. The award recognises the catering and hospitality businesses that contribute to a reduction in the environmental impact of the industry and in turn making it a more sustainable in environmental, economic and social terms.

Fire safety officers hold regular drop in sessions at the Project, giving face-to-face safety and fire prevention advice to service users and their families.

The project was awarded just over £8,000 under South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s funding scheme, the 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.

Head of Prevention & Protection Steve Helps said, “House fires have reduced massively in the last decade, but sadly the people most likely to suffer a fire are also often the hardest to reach with fire safety information. That’s why it’s important that we work closely with partners, like The Real Junk Food Project, so that we can continue to reduce death and injuries in accidental house fires.”