Award win for firefighters clean up

Firefighters have been given an award of recognition for their help with cleaning up a Sheffield skate park.

The fire crew from Tankersley White Watch came to the rescue of the local community after the new Angram Bank skate park in High Green was left vandalised last November.

The skate park had been due to be opened that day, but was deliberately targeted by vandals who left washing up liquid covering the area.

The crew members Wayne Severn, Matthew Craig, Alan Barraclough and Dave Rogers set straight to work washing, scrubbing and rinsing the washing up liquid away.

As a way of thanking the fire crew for their assistance the Parish Council has now awarded the crew The Chairman’s Award in recognition for their hard work and community spirit.

Crew Manager Matthew Craig said; “The park was due to be opened that day, we did what we did to enable the opening ceremony to still go ahead for the local people.  We are really honoured to have been chosen for this award and are very pleased that we were able to help out.”

Fire Cadet to compete in Junior Olympics

A South Yorkshire Fire Cadet will be representing Team GB under 16’s Inline Puck Hockey Squad in America this summer.

Evan Coles, a Fire Cadet at Stocksbridge fire station is hoping to be in Los Angeles this July at the AAU Junior Olympics. It will last for eight days, and the team will take part in a minimum of ten games in two competitions (International and Club tournaments).

Fire Cadets learn firefighting skills and techniques from specially qualified instructors to develop practical, life and communication skills.  It also encourages young people to be part of a team and to enhance their physical and mental capabilities, skills which Evan will need to take up this fantastic opportunity.

Evan said; “The Great Britain team is made up of players from all four of the home nations, to be asked to represent my Country is a real honour and something that all sports people strive for during their lifetime.  It comes at a cost though, as I need to raise £1,500 to cover my equipment and travel.”

Youth Engagement Officer Nicola Hobbs said; “This is the chance of a lifetime for Evan, we are all really proud of him here at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.  He has been a fire cadet for nearly three years and has grown in confidence over this time. He is a well respected and dedicated member of the Stocksbridge Fire Cadet team.  We will all be routing for him this summer and wish him all the best.”

If you would like to become a Fire Cadet and would like to learn new skills and support the fire service’s work in the local community please get in touch.

For more information, email Nicola Hobbs at

Can you help make Evan’s dream come true by giving a small donation towards his trip – click here for Evans justgiving page.

Fire Authority approves Council Tax precept rise

The fire service’s governing Fire Authority has decided to increase its portion of Council Tax by 1.97% next year, following its budget setting meeting on Monday (13 February).

The decision by members to increase the fire service’s share of Council Tax will raise an additional £441,000 in annual funding for the fire service.

Current indications are that SYFR will lose £2 million in its Government funding in 2017/18, when compared with 2016/17.

Cllr Alan Atkin, Vice Chair of the Authority, said: “We are absolutely committed to providing the best possible fire and rescue service to the people of South Yorkshire. That is why we are asking people to pay just a few pence a week more for their fire service. I understand the economic hardship being felt by households. However, this small increase helps us to balance the fire service’s budget and protect its assets in the long term.”

Fire service seeks views from the public on how it delivers its work

The fire service is calling on people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how it plans to deliver its work to local people between now and 2020.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue does not propose making any further reductions in fire station or fire engine numbers in plans presented to the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (13 February), despite having lost more than £14 million from its annual budget since 2010.

But its proposals do include making more of its firefighters available in the day when crews are busiest, changing its prevention work to focus on those most at risk and proactively exploring collaboration opportunities with other emergency services.

Key changes outlined in the service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan 2017-20 include:

  • Changing the staffing of the second fire engine at Sheffield’s Central fire station so that it is available all of the time in the day, but ‘on call’ at night
  • Adding two additional fire engines at two fire stations in South Yorkshire, which would also be available all of the time in the day, but ‘on call’ at night
  • Continuing to offer fire prevention guidance to all, but prioritising its free Home Safety Checks service for those who the service believes are at the greatest risk of fire
  • Finding further ways of working more closely with the police and ambulance services, as a new law now makes it a requirement for all emergency services to do

The plans also consider how the fire service intends to respond to Government’s efforts to reform the fire service nationally, including requirements to provide a more flexible and diverse workforce.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Our vision for the lifetime of this plan is to provide the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.

“We are not proposing any further significant changes to our core 999 service, beyond those outlined in previous plans. But the proposals we have outlined in this plan do explain how we intend to develop our service to become more efficient in what we do and make the biggest possible difference to those most at risk of fire.

“These are draft proposals and we really want to gather views from the public on the plans we have put forward.”

Members of the public can share their views on the plans between now and 27 March. Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.

People can share their views via an online survey, in writing or at a series of community roadshow events.

To have your say, complete the survey here

Firefighters attend over 350 medical emergencies in ambulance service partnership

South Yorkshire firefighters attended hundreds of medical emergencies last year, under the county’s first Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme.

The scheme is a joint initiative between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) which sees firefighters called out to certain life-threatening incidents at the same time as an ambulance.

On-call firefighters from Rossington, Stocksbridge and Dearne fire stations were sent to 358 medical emergencies in 2016, including cardiac arrests and incidents stating chest pains and breathing difficulties. At other incidents, firefighters have provided support and made the patient comfortable until the ambulance service arrived on scene.

Training for firefighters who are part of the scheme includes basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.

An EFR is dispatched at the same time as an ambulance and does not replace the usual emergency medical response from YAS. However, their location within the local community could mean they are nearer to the scene in those first critical minutes of a medical emergency, delivering life-saving care until an ambulance arrives.

They also support and complement other volunteer community first responder schemes within South Yorkshire, ensuring the level of medical provision to local communities is supplemented.

Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their fire station allow and the scheme does not impact fire cover.

Tony Carlin, Head of Emergency Response, said: “Just over a year into this scheme going live, our firefighters are already showing the incredible value they can add to their communities and the role we can play as a fire service in enhancing the work of our emergency service partners and volunteer community first responders.

“Our role as a fire service will always be to protect our communities and reach and save those who are in danger as quickly as possible. A new statutory duty has made it a requirement for us to work more closely with our blue light partners, and this scheme is a perfect example of how we are already doing that.”

Fire service calls on loved ones to help protect older people from fire

A campaign to protect older people from fire is being launched in South Yorkshire, after shock new figures reveal more than half of the county’s recent fire deaths involved people over the age of 60.

Since 2009, 42 people died in accidental house fires in South Yorkshire. Of these, 22 (53%) were aged 60 or over.

Of the last ten fatalities, six involved residents aged 60 or over and two involved people in their 50s. Several of the victims were living alone and only half had a working smoke alarm installed.

The statistics are reflected nationally and demonstrate why South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is focussing its work to prevent fires on those who are most at risk.

Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “We have known for many years that isolated, older people are significantly more likely to die in house fires. But we also know that some older people can be hard to reach by traditional methods of engaging them around fire safety.

“That’s why we are calling on relatives, friends and neighbours to help us, help them by looking out for some common fire hazards, helping them test their smoke alarms and referring them to us if they need further support.”

The fire service says that taking just five minutes to carry out some simple checks the next time you see an older relative or friend could prevent a fire and help your loved one to stay in their own home safely, for longer.

As part of the campaign, a video is being released which explains some simple things people can do to help. They include:

  • Test their smoke alarms- some older people may find it difficult to reach their alarms to test them regularly
  • Check electrics are safe- look out for frayed wiring or overloaded sockets
  • Make sure escape routes are clear

Change to staffing of second fire engine at Rotherham confirmed

The staffing of the second fire engine at Rotherham fire station will change next month, as one of the final changes approved by councillors four years ago is implemented.

The second fire engine at the site on Fitzwilliam Road will remain permanently available in the day, but become ‘on call’ at night by the end of March.

The decision to make the change was approved by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s governing Fire Authority in 2013.

It was reaffirmed in an efficiency plan approved by the Government last year, where the service outlined proposals to make more of its fire engines available in the daytime when firefighters are busiest responding to emergencies, carrying out safety work or training.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “We have faced big cuts to our funding, but have repeatedly committed to providing the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.

 “This change is one of the last changes agreed four years ago. The second fire engine is not being taken away, but will become ‘on call’ at night and, as with all our fire stations, our 999 response service will continue to be supported by crews from other, nearby stations.

“We will soon be talking to the public about how we plan to deliver our services beyond 2017 and will look forward to listening to their views on how we plan to develop our work to keep people safe.”

The fire service has lost £14 million in its Government funding since 2010 and is likely to lose a further £2 million between now and 2020.

Changes to the second fire engines at Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster fire stations were approved in something called an Integrated Risk Management Plan (2013-17), following consultation with the public and other stakeholders.

A similar, draft plan for how the fire service will deliver its service to local people beyond 2017 will be considered by Fire Authority members in February before members of the public are invited to share their views.

The plans to be presented will not propose any further reductions in fire station or fire engine numbers, but will consider changes to the fire service’s work to prevent emergencies and a new legal duty to collaborate with the police and ambulance services. The fire service will also commit to using its existing resources as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

Fire engine blocked by parked cars

Firefighters are pleading with drivers not to block access to narrow streets by parking on both sides of the road after a fire engine was left unable to reach an emergency.

Fire crews were called out to Roebuck Road in Sheffield during the evening of Saturday 28 January to reports of a laundry fire at a nursing home.

The crew from Rivelin station however was unable to reach the incident due to parked cars blocking their way.

Instead, a fire engine from Central station had to attend via another route, but lost valuable minutes in reaching the incident.  Luckily no one was injured in the fire.

We are urging residents to think about their parking as they could be putting the lives of their families, friends and neighbours at risk.

Area Manager Tony Carlin, Head of Emergency Response said; “Bad parking is a real problem for firefighters. Fire engines require a gap of almost 3 meters to get through. We appreciate that people like to park as close to their property as possible, but please think could a fire engine or other emergency vehicle get through the gap.  With every second counting when attending a fire or road crash it is vital that they can get down streets quickly and safely.”

Victor-y for polar bear helped by firefighters

A health check-up for the country’s oldest and most popular polar bear has been carried out with military precision.

Victor, a visitors’ favourite at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park, was in the care of a 30-strong team for a procedure that took more than a month to plan.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue helped lift the 18-year-old, who weighs in at 530kg, into position for a team of specialist vets and dentists to conduct a battery of tests during the appointment.

Victor was anaesthetised for two hours but was back on his feet within half an hour in a successful operation to ensure he was in tip-top condition.

“At YWP we have very high animal welfare standards. We could see that one of Victor’s canine teeth looked a slightly different colour to the rest of his teeth so we wanted to investigate and it was an opportunity to give him a full MOT.  To bring all the specialists together took a month to plan. We are delighted that it all went very well, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team,” said Simon Marsh, Animals Collections Manager at the park, at Branton, near Doncaster.

“Victor was very relaxed and was quickly back to his old self after the two-hour procedure.”

“He has made a full recovery from the experience and initial findings are that he is very well for an 18-year-old bear. We are waiting on the test results from the samples we took from him but we are all happy that Victor is a happy and healthy polar bear.”

The operation began a month ago with the YWP Animal Team, Portland House Veterinary Group (based in Retford), IZVG (International Zoo Veterinary Group based in Keighley) and Zoodent, a specialist animal dentist (based in London) , drawing up a strategy for the first time a polar bear had been anaesthetized at the 100-acre park.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue whose firefighters are trained in using specialist animal rescue equipment was called in for extensive planning on how to move Victor for the vet team to carry out their checks.

The day started at 8.30 am with the veterinary team setting up their kit and the fire service assembling lifting gear.

“Timing was critical as we only had a small window to get Victor moved and in position to allow the vets to get him connected to the anaesthetic machine,” added Mr Marsh.

“Also with over 30 people involved and working in the relatively small area of Victor’s den, we had to make sure people move in and out at the precise time they were needed.”

Kim Wilkins, YWP’s Carnivore Team Leader and Andrew Greenwood, from IZVG, administered the anaesthetic injection to Victor who had been gradually familiarised with the technique so he was relaxed.

“For Victor to be relaxed and trusting enough for us to inject him took months of animal training. Veterinary procedures are out of the ordinary for animals and by keeping Victor calm, it made it safer for him whilst under the anaesthetic” said Ms Wilkins.

Park rangers and the fire service team placed Victor onto a cargo net and lifted him into place.

Specialist dentist Peter Kertesz, of Zoodent, and the veterinary team carried out extensive tests that were completed in under two hours.

“Although we had prepared as much as we could we had no idea how it would go, and if it was even going to be possible, but with excellent team work we quickly and smoothly managed to move Victor,” said Mr Marsh.

“Once he was in positon, the Fire Service moved out and the dentist and vets moved back in to carry out a comprehensive health check, looking at his 42 teeth, joints, feet and claws. We took x-rays, blood samples and swabs for a battery of tests to make sure Victor is in tip top condition.”

“As soon as the vets and dentist had finished their procedures, the Fire Service moved back in and helped the Rangers move Victor back and we could start his recovery. He was back on his feet within half an hour. He was under the anaesthetic for no more than 2 hours and the whole event from start to finish lasted 5 hours”.

“It was handled very professionally and efficiently and YWP is thankful for the expertise and care of the team and would particularly thank South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for their help.”

Fire Station Manager, Dave Scully said: “This was certainly an unprecedented request for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

“Whilst we wouldn’t routinely use our services in this way, we recognised Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s need for support during this complex operation due to the size of the animal. It meant Victor was able to receive the necessary medical treatment whilst allowing our crews the opportunity to test their skills using specialist animal rescue equipment. A happy ending for all involved!”

The team:

5 Vets
1 Vet Nurse
1 Zoo Dentist
1 Zoo Dental Nurse
11 Firefighters
11 YWP Rangers and Staff

Victor is now happily back out in Project Polar at the Park with the other polar bears, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby.


Public’s views sought on fire service Council Tax choice

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on what the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) council tax precept should be for 2017-18. The aim of the consultation is to gain an understanding as to the public’s preferred level of the precept- 1.97% or no increase.

Current indications are that SYFR will lose around £2 million in its Government funding in 2017/18, when compared with 2016/17.

Householders in Band D currently pay £67.33 per year for their Fire and Rescue Service, around £1.29 per week. The decision to increase council tax would raise around £441,000 in annual funding for the fire service.

Fire Authority Members will make their decision on Council Tax at the fire and rescue authority meeting on Monday 13 February.

To share your views, please fill in the short survey below. The survey closes on 31 January.

Council tax survey