South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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New Barnsley fire station taking shape

A brand new, energy efficient station for Barnsley’s firefighters is taking shape.

The former three-storey building on Broadway, Kingstone has been demolished and the steelwork for a new two storey, three bay facility on the same site is already up.

Firefighters are being housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst construction of the new building takes place

Director of Support Services Stuart Booth, said: “We’re making really good progress with the development, which represents part of our vision to provide all our firefighters with modern, comfortable and energy efficient spaces in which to live and work.

“We’re confident that this major building project, which is being paid for using money set aside from the Authority’s reserves, will become fully operational later this summer and provide an outstanding service to the people of Barnsley for many years to come.”

A separate multi-use facility is to be built on the same site, which will host the service’s award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme initiative as well as providing space to hold events and meetings and bookings from community groups. A new training building to complement the existing drill tower is to be constructed also. Both of these builds will take place once the main fire station is complete.

Energy saving measures at the new fire station will include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

The investment forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around £8 million being set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate.

Bond Bryan acted as architects for the project, with JF Finnegans appointed as contractors.

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Police and fire team reflects on ‘year like no other’ 12 months on from first lockdown

An emergency services team on the frontline of keeping people safe during the pandemic has revealed the full breadth of its work, as it reflects on a year’s activity since the UK’s first lockdown.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police’s joint community safety department has delivered education packages to more than 8,000 children, visited 2,500 high-risk vulnerable people and given guns and knives training to over 2,100 pupils.

Thousands more children have attended internet safety sessions, 64 people accessed the department’s ‘Think Family’ arson intervention scheme and 11,000 school children attended the interactive safety centre- Lifewise- when Covid-19 restrictions were eased last year.

All of this came on top of the team’s efforts to support vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, including deliveries of essential food and medicines to hundreds of homes.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, leads the joint department, said: “The last 12 months really have been a year like no other for us as a team, but I just feel so incredibly proud of the way our staff and volunteers have stepped up to help keep local people safe.

“Like so many organisations, we’ve had to adapt very quickly- suspending or transferring our core activities online the moment the first lockdown was announced, whilst also taking on new tasks to make sure vulnerable people in South Yorkshire were getting the support they needed.

“Staff from across fire and policing have risen to that challenge brilliantly, though of course we are now looking forward to delivering more face-to-face help to people as lockdown restrictions hopefully continue to ease throughout the remainder of this year.

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 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.

The joint community safety department was formed in 2018, bringing together existing teams in the police and fire and rescue services.

The team’s core activities include the delivery of schools education work, safety visits to people’s homes and youth engagement initiatives such as its award winning Princes Trust Team Programme.

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False information on social media targeted in new South Yorkshire campaign

Misinformation is the target of a new campaign in South Yorkshire, which seeks to curb the spread of false content online.

Health chiefs, emergency services and councils across South Yorkshire are coming together to warn people to think twice about the things they share- and to get their information from official sources.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign draws on local references and familiar conversations to point out how well-meaning conversations online can quickly develop and become harmful.

Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Greg Fell, said: “Research suggests that younger people are particularly susceptible to misleading and false information, which can spread to tens of thousands of people very quickly on social media or via instant messaging applications like Whatsapp.

“Some of the examples we’re sharing as part of this campaign are intentionally light hearted, but the issue is a really serious one. False or misleading information has the potential to cause harm and cost lives during any emergency, but especially during a public health crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Clearly there’s little we can do to stop people posting false information online, nor are we in a position where we want to curb people’s freedom of speech. What we do want people to do is to think twice before they share information online and to refer to trusted, official sources wherever possible- like government, council or emergency service websites.”

The ‘Killer Detail’ campaign has been developed by public agencies which form part of South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum. The forum is responsible for overseeing the region’s response to major emergencies, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

A study published by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI in December found one in three people in the UK have been exposed to messages discouraging the public from getting a coronavirus vaccine.

The research revealed that a notable minority believe conspiracy theories- with belief especially high among young people and those who get a lot of information on the pandemic from social media platforms.

The Government launched its own campaign to combat minsinformation online last in March, using shareable videos and trust community figures to call for people to check before they share.

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Fire staff to deliver vaccine as part of St John Ambulance volunteer scheme

Fire service staff have been trained by St John Ambulance, as part of a volunteer scheme to help deliver the NHS vaccination programme.

Staff including firefighters, officers and support were trained to administer the vaccine and to support people as they go through the vaccination process.

The volunteers will complete up to two shifts a month with St John Ambulance as part of the huge national effort to get the country vaccinated.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “No matter what the challenge is, fire and rescue service staff are ready, willing and able to help our communities wherever it is needed.

“I am very proud of every member of staff who has stepped forward so far to receive this training and incredibly grateful to St John Ambulance for giving us the skills, training and opportunity to do our bit.

“Myself and the other staff who have volunteered really can’t wait to get out to a vaccination centre to support this monumental national effort.”

Fire and rescue staff have already delivered more than 120,000 vaccines nationally.

In South Yorkshire, the fire service has supported the local response to the pandemic by delivering food and medicine to isolated people, distributing more than 1.3 million pieces of PPE to frontline health workers and working with military planners to identify vaccination sites. Some firefighters also volunteered to drive ambulances during the first wave.

The service was recently presented with an award by the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire Carole O’Neill in recognition of its work during the pandemic.

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Fire service adds off-road vehicles as latest weapon to tackle moorland wildfires

South Yorkshire’s firefighters have a new weapon to help them tackle moorland wildfires- off road vehicles.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has added two Polaris vehicles to its fleet, helping crews to respond more effectively to wildfires and other incidents which might be hard to reach using a traditional fire engine.

The vehicles are to be fitted with water pumps which can be taken off and used to douse flames at the frontline of a large fire on moor or grass land.

Fire crews will spend the next few months being trained in their use, before the vehicles are made available to attend incidents right across South Yorkshire.

The vehicles will be based at Thorne fire station in Doncaster and Rivelin fire station in Sheffield.

Station Manager Mike Anthony, said: “We’re always committed to giving frontline firefighters the best possible kit to help them do their jobs effectively. We believe these vehicles will become incredibly versatile additions to our fleet, enhancing our ability to deal with challenging incidents on tough terrain, as well as a wide variety of other incident types.”

The investment is part of a bigger effort to enhance the service’s ability to respond to moorland wildfires, including additional welfare support and extra training for crews.

Last year, firefighters spent several weeks tackling a deep-seated fire on peat moorland in Thorne and Hatfield. The site of special scientific interest was home to several rare and endangered species.

As the weather warms up and the country unlocks, firefighters are once more urging the public to play their part in preventing moorland fires.

Their advice includes never having BBQs in open countryside or parkland, discarding of cigarettes carefully and taking your rubbish with you as glass bottles can magnify the sun’s rays starting fires.

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Service busts open firefighting myths with bold new women’s day campaign

“Not fit enough. Not strong enough. Not brave enough.”

These are just three of the myths around women in the fire service that South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has set out to bust as part of its latest International Women’s Day campaign.

With a brand new video launched today, Monday 8 March, the service is looking to celebrate its current group of female firefighters, control operators and support staff.

It’s also trying to encourage and empower women who have previously considered a role within the fire service but been put off by traditional stereotypes.

This comes ahead of a round of full-time firefighter recruitment process that will be opening up, for budding firefighters across South Yorkshire, this summer.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again but, whilst I’m proud of how far we’ve come in recent years, there is still a long way to go to fully dispel the long-standing myth that firefighting is a job for men,” said South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson.

“This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), and the Choose To Challenge theme, provides us with the perfect opportunity to do that. We want to make it totally clear that women are fit enough, strong enough and brave enough to do this job.

“We’ve been doing it for years already and we’re here to stay. The fantastic women within my service, a small handful of which are featured in our video and up-coming podcast, are living and breathing examples of that.

“So if you’re a woman who has long considered applying for a career in the fire service, but perhaps needed a little nudge, then consider this that nudge. As South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer, with 30 years’ service, I’ve done it, and so can you.”

As well as launching its new video, the service is set to release a special IWD episode of its podcast series, Shout, later this week.

The ‘pod’ features Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, Watch Managers Kirsty Wright and Caz Whiteman and Firefighter Helena Rooke.

Following the same ‘Choose To Challenge’ theme, the feature length episode sees the group breaking down old stereotypes and sharing their career experiences to date.

It’s hoped that the service’s latest show of support for International Women’s Day will boost the number of women registering their interest in fire service careers.

This can be done here via the service’s website – with those who register their interest in firefighting jobs the first to know about any future recruitment.

Last year, the service saw a huge increase in registrations from the LGBT+ community after hitting back at trolls on social media.

Prior to that, previous campaigns around International Women’s Day and Black History Month saw a big increase in female and BME registrations respectively.

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Firefighters needed at on-call stations across South Yorkshire

The county’s fire service is calling for people in Askern, Rossington, Birley and Stocksbridge to step up and serve their communities as on-call firefighters.

After a hugely successful recruitment campaign in September, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) says three out of their seven on-call stations now have no vacancies.

But there are still spaces for on-call staff in Askern, Rossington, Birley and Stocksbridge, prompting the service to launch another recruitment push during March.

Anyone interested is urged to register their interest on the service’s website, here, with next steps then being sent out in due course.

“On-call firefighters are local people who live or work within five minutes of their stations – they are trained to the same standard as full-time firefighters but carry a pager when they are on-duty that alerts them if they are needed,” said SYFR Station Manager, Chris Tyler.

“We couldn’t have been more pleased after September’s campaign – filling the vacancies at four stations is quite the achievement – and we’re hoping to have more success with our final three stations during this next push.

“Being an on-call firefighter is a big commitment and the nature of the role means it takes an extraordinary person but our message is clear – if a small part of you thinks you can do it, you most likely can, and we’ll help you along the way.

“Should you be interested, even in the slightest, I’d encourage you to take a look at the information on our website and register your interest for more details.”

On-call firefighters are able to fit their duties around other work and family commitments – they get paid an annual ‘retainer fee’ and then get paid for each incident they attend.

They also get paid for any training and work done in the community. More information on the role and what it entails can be found here.

Those interested must live or work within a five minute drive of Askern, Rossington, Birley or Stocksbridge fire stations – with there potentially being a small bit of flexibility with this.

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Fire Authority approve Council Tax precept rise

The fire service’s governing Fire Authority has decided to increase its portion of Council Tax by 1.99% next year, at its budget setting meeting on Monday.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says the increase will help to support investments its making to its frontline service- including the recruitment of additional firefighters- as well as helping it to prepare for potentially more uncertain times ahead.

Householders in Band D will pay £76.07 per year for their Fire and Rescue Service- an increase of about three pence per week compared to the current rate of £74.59. The decision to increase council tax will raise around £530,000 in annual funding for the fire service- the equivalent of around 15 firefighters.

The service outlined the financial risks it faces in its medium term financial plan, which includes uncertainty around the impact of Coiv-19 on its council tax base and central government funding.

Fire Authority Members made their decision on Council Tax at the fire and rescue authority meeting on Monday 22 February. You can view the webcast here.

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High volume pumps deployed to support removal of surface water in Sykehouse

Firefighters are deploying two high volume pumps to Sykehouse in Doncaster in a bid to aid the removal of surface water which is currently lying on flood plains in the area.

River levels in the area are falling and existing drainage pumping arrangements are working well.

However, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has deployed the pumps- one of which is being sent by Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue- to support the speedy removal of the water and to help reassure communities living nearby.

The fire service has been working with Doncaster Council and the Environment Agency on the deployment says it expects to be in the area for around 48 hours.

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Campaign launched to curb South Yorkshire cooking fires

Firefighters are urging people to stop leaving their cooking unattended in a bid to crack down on house fires across the county.

New figures, released by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, show that half of all house fires across South Yorkshire last year started in the kitchen.

An even deeper look into the issue, fire officers say, shows that the majority of these fires could be prevented and start when people leave pans on the hob or food in the oven.

The service is now appealing to people across Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster to ‘stand by your pan’ to avoid a kitchen fire disaster.

As part of the campaign, officers are also asking people not to cook after consuming alcohol and, instead, get a takeaway.

“Public awareness and safety around house fires has increased dramatically in recent years but one bad habit we haven’t quite kicked, yet, is leaving cooking unattended,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“Pretty much every kitchen fire we attend originates from an oven or hob and, generally, the fires have started because something has been left on.

“Examples range from a cooker being left to pre-heat to somebody falling asleep whilst their food is cooking and, whilst we know it’s not usually intentional, fire happens fast.

“We don’t expect people to stare at their food whilst it cooks and clearly pre-heating an oven is fairly standard, this isn’t an issue.

“What’s an issue is where people leave the kitchen entirely and either forget that the cooker is on or get distracted with something else, such as the TV or having a quick shower.

“What’s also an issue is where people get in the kitchen and start cooking having had something to drink – this is never a good idea and often ends up in the worst kind of fires.”

The service’s new campaign comes off-the-back of a smoke alarm push in which firefighters urged people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home.

It’s based on figures that show there were 230 cooking fires, across South Yorkshire, in 2020 – making up 47 percent of the 491 house blazes attended by firefighters last year.

“Our message is really clear – don’t leave cooking unattended and don’t cook drunk. This isn’t just about reducing pressure on us, it’s about keeping yourself safe,” added Matt.

“What people often don’t realise is that getting hurt is just one risk when it comes to kitchen fires – very often you can escape harm but be left with a huge bill for redecorating.”

More information on cooking fire safety, and details of how to book a free fire service home safety visit, can be found on the service’s website, www.syfire.gov.uk.

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