Young fire fan visits South Yorkshire as part of 2,500-station journey

An 11-year-old autistic schoolboy who dreams of being a firefighter has visited stations in South Yorkshire as part of efforts to visit every fire facility in the country.

Andrew Impey, from Southsea, Hampshire recently ticked off the 999th station, the emergency services number marking a milestone on his 2,500-station journey.

This week he added Birley Moor, Parkway and Elm Lane fire stations to his list as part of his mission.

He had been aiming to raise £999 for The Fire Fighters Charity but upped this to £1,943 to mark the period when the National Fire Service was born. He has so far raised more than £1,700.

In addition to stations, he has visited individual departments, specialist units and even fire crews based at airports.

This year he will be visiting the US with his family to meet firefighters from the Fire Department of the City of New York.

He has also kitted his room out as a fire station with more than 800 bits of equipment and trinkets he has been given by various services and pieces he has picked up at expos and trade shows.

He has 32 helmets, 10 full fire kits and even a mini-set of breathing apparatus as well as a control room-style map and a firefighters’ pole.

Andrew documents his travels on social media, where he uses his middle name and is known as Andrew Dane, on #oneladschallenge.

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.”

Two weeks left to have your say on how fire service delivers its work to local people

There are two weeks left for people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how the fire service plans to deliver its work 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 last month, 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 draft 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 until 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- the last of which takes place at Barnsley’s Alhambra Centre tomorrow (Tuesday 14 March).

Click here to read the proposals in full, for more information on the consultation and to have your say

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

Sheffield emergency services team attends hundreds of homes during six month pilot

A joint emergency services team set up to protect vulnerable people and reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield will continue its work for another six months, having visited hundreds of homes in the city during a successful trial.

The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, set up by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police and supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, sees staff visit homes to reduce fire risk in properties, provide reassurance and support to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, improve security and help people who have fallen.

The team has carried out almost 300 crime prevention checks and more than 350 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms, during an initial six month trial.

The team also responds to help people at high volume, lower priority incidents, including helping 61 people who have had a fall, are not seriously injured, but are unable to get up on their own. Other work has included visiting dozens of vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour or burglaries and completing enquiries in relation to ten missing people.

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

The team won the award for best NHS Collaboration at the Health Business Awards 2016 event in London last year and emergency service bosses say the team is the best possible example of 999 agencies working more closely together in South Yorkshire.

SYFR Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps, said: “During its first six months, this team has more than proven its concept and has helped hundreds of people in Sheffield at the same time as keeping police and ambulance crews available for other, more serious types of incident.

“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 as well.”

Chief Inspector Jenny Lax from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The LIFE team is an excellent example of emergency services working together through collaboration 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 and researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been commissioned to evaluate its effectiveness.

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.

A joint police and fire station in Maltby will open later this year, whilst five ambulance stand-by points are being created at five other fire service premises across the county.

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 nhobbs@syfire.gov.uk.

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.”