Youth programme praised for impact on South Yorkshire beauty spot

Bosses at a South Yorkshire beauty spot have praised a police and fire service led youth programme for its impact on transforming one of the county’s best loved green spaces.

Young people aged 16 to 25 who took part in the Princes Trust Team Programme at Dearne fire station earlier this year cleared rubbish, reinforced lakeside banks and created a nature trail as part of efforts to improve Manvers Lake.

Their efforts have won praise from Manvers Lake & Dearne Valley Trust, who say the team’s efforts have boosted visitor numbers and renewed LOCAL interest in the site.

Director Ian Rodwell said: “Despite unsettled weather we have had a great summer with more visitors to site than ever before. Many of these visitors come to walk around the lake and admire the views, and enjoy some green space in the heart of South Yorkshire.

“This green space is much better thanks to the work of the Princes Trust Team Programme, who cleared many years accumulation of rubbish from deep in the undergrowth. They also constructed some natural erosion protection from materials on site to protect the lakeside banks from washing away and made a nature trail through a small coppice.

“The team showed commendable effort and determination, with many of them working outdoors for a week in February when it rained almost constantly. A couple of team members wanted some shelter from the rain and they asked me if they could paint the inside of our cafe area, which they started on immediately and stayed late until the job was finished. It really was a pleasure to have a group of young people on site who wanted to make such a difference.

“As well as the long lasting environmental improvements gained by clearing the rubbish and protecting the banks from erosion, a legacy of the project was the formation of the ‘Friends of Manvers Lake’. This is a group of volunteers who communicate via a Facebook group and all want to see the lake and parkland improve.

“When the young people set up the group, within days it gained over 100 members and this number is still growing. We use the group to communicate with people who are not members of our sports clubs, but who have an interest in the lake to let them know what events we have and what is happening on site.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Team Programme two years ago. During that time around 100 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.

The courses are based at fire stations and are the only programmes of their type in the country to be jointly delivered by fire and police services. For more information or to sign-up, email princestrust@syfire.gov.uk

Fire bosses call on students to ditch door wedges as part of national safety week

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

The safety plea comes during Student Fire Safety Week (23 to 29 October) 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.

Whilst it can be tempting to prop open doors during the first weeks of term to make new friends, 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 door wedges are often used in student accommodation blocks 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

Fire crews carry out rescue from height training exercise

South Yorkshire’s fire crews have taken part in a realistic, rope rescue exercise to test their response in the event of a major height rescue incident.

The exercise was simulated to test the emergency planning and training procedures in place at Tween Bridge Wind Farm in Doncaster. It specifically focused on dealing with emergency scenarios in which a casualty is suspended at height.

The first scenario of the day involved the complex rescue of a casualty who was suspended 25 metres up a turbine on a ladder. The second scenario involved crews lowering a casualty from the top of an 80 metre turbine using a stretcher. Crews from Thorne and Dearne fire stations worked together to successfully carry out each rope rescue.

The site manager from Tween Bridge, alongside two maintenance operators and two external rope rescue instructors were also involved in the exercise.

Darren Robertson, station manager at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, said: “Firefighters respond to a huge range of emergencies, far beyond the house fires and road traffic collisions we are traditionally associated with. Rescues from height can be extremely complex, which is what makes training like this so important. Both scenarios were successfully completed and generated a great deal of operational learning.”

Richard Couzens, Regional Production Manager at Tween Bridge Wind Farm, said: “Emergency planning and training is of paramount importance not only at E.ON but throughout the wind industry. Even minor injuries can quickly escalate into more challenging situations when you take into account the fact that the casualty is at great height above ground level and in need of assistance.

It is only through working with local fire and rescue crews and specialist rope rescue teams that we can increase familiarisation around our working environment. We are incredibly grateful to the local teams for taking time out to join us for the training activity and share their knowledge and experience in this area.”

This recent exercise formed part of an ongoing aim at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to continually improve emergency response procedures to incidents that aren’t just fires.

Tween Bridge is one of E.ONs many onshore wind farms across the UK and is home to 22 turbines.

Operation Dark Nights safety talks

Be bright, be seen, be safe ­­– that’s the message being delivered to primary school children in the run up to Bonfire Night.

Police Community Support Officers have been visiting schools across Rotherham to chat about personal safety as part of Operation Dark Nights.

The interactive sessions include a presentation, quiz and opportunity to talk through real-life scenarios with officers from both South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR).

As well as facts around the dangers of fireworks, young people are being taught the ‘stop, drop and roll’ technique, which helps to put out flames, as well as how to behave at an organised bonfire event.

Rotherham PS Sharon Phin, who has helped to organise the sessions, said: “We run this initiative every year because it is vital that we do everything we can to help keep children safe.

“Half of all accidents involving fireworks happen to children under the age of 16 so we target our presentations to those at risk.

“Officers talk to children about sparklers, appropriate bright and reflective clothing and the need to stay close to an adult at organised events.”

Young people are also given advice about when to call 999, the implications of hoax calls and the law around buying fireworks.

“We really want everyone to enjoy Bonfire Night,” added Gary Willoughby of SYFR. “We will continue to run our personal safety sessions to try to make sure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.”

Operation Dark Nights is a force-wide campaign providing important safety advice and reassurance to the public over the next four weeks.

For more information visit www.southyorkshire.police.uk/darknights

Fire service safety advice ahead of Diwali

The fire service is calling on people in South Yorkshire to take extra care ahead of one of the most important periods in the religious calendar.

Firefighters are reminding people celebrating the Diwali festival (Wednesday 18 October) to take extra care with candles and cooking- both common causes of house fires.

Diwali is a bright and vibrant time with many families coming together to celebrate. But the increased use of candles, divas, tealights, fireworks and cooking of special meals can bring additional dangers.

By taking a few simple precautions, families can stay safe during the celebrations.

  • Always place divas/diyas, tea lights and candles on heat-resistant surfaces and well away from curtains and decorations.
  • Children and pets should be supervised at all times near flames.
  • Don’t let yourself get distracted – never leave cooking unattended.
  • If a pan with oil in it catches fire, don’t move it and don’t throw water over it. Get out of the kitchen, close the door behind you and call 999.
  • Ensure that all fireworks meet British safety standards, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.

Area Manager Steve Helps said: “We recognise this is a really important time for many people in South Yorkshire, but want to make sure people observe it safely. In particular, people should take extra care with candles, which we know are responsible for some of the most severe house fires we attend. Basic precautions like keeping candles away from flammable materials will help you and your loved ones to celebrate safely.”

Sheffield firefighters win top national challenge for third year in a row

A fire crew from Sheffield is celebrating after coming out on top in a national competition to test firefighters’ search and rescue skills in heat and smoke.

Central station were awarded first place in the UK finals of the Breathing Apparatus (BA) challenge- defending the title for a third year.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue firefighters competed against other fire crews from across the UK.

Each team tackled a series of scenarios involving the rescue of ‘casualties’ from inside smoke-filled buildings at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh.

In total four awards were won by South Yorkshire firefighters.

Judges at the competition named the Central crew overall winners after scoring firefighters in a number of different skill areas including BA search and rescue, Firefighting while in BA, pump operator, BA entry control officer and incident command.

Head of Service Delivery Support Stewart Nicholson, said; “We’re very proud that for the third year in a row a crew from South Yorkshire has taken first place in a national competition that was filled with ultra professional, highly-skilled firefighters.  The standard is always extremely high but is rising year on year, so for our crew to perform again to such a high standard on the national stage is a fantastic achievement.”

HOPE Charity launches next chapter at major Sheffield event

A South Yorkshire charity which has been helping people touched by trauma for more than a decade has officially launched.

HOPE has acted as a peer support network for people who have lost loved ones in fires, road traffic collisions or other tragedies since 2006.

Now it has achieved charitable status and it launched the latest chapter of its story in front of volunteers, beneficiaries and dignitaries including HM Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire and all four South Yorkshire Mayors.

The event, hosted at Irwin Mitchell’s headquarters at Riverside House, Sheffield, heard emotional stories from many of the people HOPE has supported.

HOPE Charity, which is supported by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, now wants to put its skills towards helping to prevent emergency incidents from happening in the first place.

It has already been commissioned to deliver road safety education packages to schools by the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership and its volunteers are beginning to carry out home safety checks on behalf of the fire service.

HOPE Charity’s Business Development Manager Mary-Ann Quinn, said: “This event marked an exciting new chapter in our history, as well as reflecting upon our achievements over the last decade and more. We will continue to provide the peer support which our members value so much, but also believe that achieving charity status will broaden the range of support and services we are able to deliver. It’s been a real team effort to get this far and long may it continue.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer and HOPE trustee Martin Blunden, said: “There is a natural synergy between the work HOPE Charity has been doing over a number of years to support people touched by tragedy, and the work that we do as a fire and rescue service to prevent emergencies in the first place.

“We recently published plans which set out our vision for how we will make local people safer. The aspiration we set out was to spread our resources much further by working with other agencies to meet the growing demand for preventative interventions. We believe HOPE, and other charities and community organisations like them, will continue to be important partners of ours in delivering this aim.”

Irwin Mitchell: Joanne Witherington, solicitor at Irwin Mitchell said: “We are committed to supporting the valuable work of HOPE across South Yorkshire and we were incredibly proud to host their launch reception at our Sheffield office.  It was a wonderful event and hearing first-hand accounts of how the charity’s services have helped families at such a difficult time in their lives highlighted, even more greatly, the importance of HOPE’s work.”

Last year HOPE was given the Duke of York’s Community Initiative Award. This is a Royal award presented to community projects based in Yorkshire which are owned, developed and led by the people they serve.

To find out more about the charity, visit its new website created by Millgate Connect, at www.hope-sy.co.uk

New fire and police station in Maltby goes live

South Yorkshire’s only joint fire and police station has gone operational for the first time.

Firefighters have started attending 999 calls from the station in Maltby, Rotherham after work to modify the existing police station on Byford Road to accommodate fire service vehicles and staff was completed last month. The old fire station on Maltby High Street has now closed.

The project won Government Transformation Funding of £560,000 and means South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can share running costs, enabling funding to be targeted at frontline services.

The move has shifted fire service resources around a mile closer to the east side of Rotherham, which traditionally accounts for a greater volume of emergency incidents compared to lower risk areas to the east of Maltby.

It will also improve services by making it easier for police and firefighters to share knowledge, skills and expertise when tackling common issues, like anti-social behaviour and road traffic collisions. In a similar way, it will help both organisations to reach the most vulnerable members of the community.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “This new facility is the first of its kind in South Yorkshire and represents the best possible, physical example of our commitment to work more closely with our emergency service partners. By working alongside each other under one roof, we think the move will benefit both organisations by improving how we work together to solve problems we both face, which can only help to improve the quality of the service we offer to local people.”

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “The Fire Authority has always been clear that collaboration should be about more than badges on buildings and saving money, with local people at the heart of any of the decisions we make. With this in mind, I am pleased to see the completion of the first joint police and fire station in South Yorkshire- not just as a symbol of the joint work the fire service is leading on with the police, but also because of the benefits I expect it to bring to both organisations and the community itself.”

Chief Superintendent Rob Odell, district commander for Rotherham, said: “I’ve no doubt that this joint venture will help us to provide a more coordinated service to the public, particularly on issues dealt with by both services. This provides us with an excellent opportunity to better share information and to help meet the demands of modern policing, where working alongside our partners is vital in meeting the needs of our communities.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “The joint fire and police station at Maltby offers a number of positive opportunities for the police and fire services to work together and collaborate. This new cost-effective way of working will allow agencies to share information and work more effectively together. The building will help reduce overheads to both organisations at a time when, the taxpayers want to see their money being spent on the safety of South Yorkshire residents and not on buildings and their running costs.”

The Policing & Crime Act 2016 has placed 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 Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team has been set up in Sheffield which sees fire and police staff visit hundreds of homes in the city to reduce fire risk in properties, improve security and help people who have fallen and contribute to reducing the risk of falls.

Lifewise is an interactive safety centre which is jointly run by the police and fire services and opened in 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year.

Work is also underway to improve the way the police and fire services work together in several other areas, including their community safety and prevention work.

House fire escape plan plea as huge survey reveals big knowledge gap

Fire officers are calling on families to make a house fire escape plan, after a major city-wide survey found less than half of parents discuss with children how to get out safely in the event of a blaze.

The Sheffield Parents Survey spoke to nearly 2,000 parents across the city about a range of topics, including fire safety.

It found that most people (95%) knew how to reduce the risk of fire in their home and that even more (96%) had at least one working smoke alarm.

But just two out of every five parents (43%) who responded said they had talked to their children about escaping quickly and safely in the event of a fire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue already talks to tens of thousands of children each year about escape routes and preventing fires during primary schools visits and at the Lifewise Centre, but fire safety officers want parents to do more to support their work.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “There are fewer house fires now than at any time in South Yorkshire’s history, but in the unlikely event that a blaze does occur it’s vital that everyone in the house knows what to do, especially in homes where there are young children.

“It’s important that on discovering a fire children know not to hide, which can often be their first instinct. Instead, we would encourage families to work together to know and discuss the best routes in and out of their house and to make sure that everyone knows where to find door and window keys in the event of a fire, especially at night.”

If your smoke alarms do go off or you discover a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.

Other advice includes:

  • Choose the best escape route– usually your normal way in and out of the home
  • If the first route is blocked, think of a second one, and keep those routes cleared at all times
  • Make sure everyone knows where to find door and window keys so they can get to them quickly in the event of a fire
  • Practice your escape plan with everyone if your house, so everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire

The fire service has also produced a video which teaches people how to make a family escape plan, which you can view below