South Yorkshire joins national on-call firefighter recruitment drive

South Yorkshire has joined a major national firefighter recruitment drive, which launches today.

On-Call Firefighter Awareness Week (7-13 January) is a UK-wide initiative to get more people to protect their communities by signing up to become on-call firefighters.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue currently employs on-call firefighters at seven fire stations- Askern, Birley Moor, Cudworth, Dearne, Rossington, Stocksbridge and Penistone.

On-call firefighters are local people who live within five minutes of those fire stations and are paid to respond to emergencies. They do not staff the fire station 24 hours a day like full-time firefighters. They are notified of a 999 call via a personal pager which they carry with them when they are on duty. They are also paid to train and, when needed, carry out safety work in the community.

Head of Emergency Response Tony Carlin, said: “We’ve employed on-call firefighters for decades and they play a vital role in keeping local people safe. But we need more people who are passionate about the places they live to become on call firefighters.

“If being a firefighter is something that appeals to you, but you already have a career or other commitments, now is the chance for you to find out if you can still make it happen.  There’ s lots of flexibility to work around other commitments such as family, studying or work, so we really want people to get in touch to find out if it could be a career for them.”

The National Fire Chief’s Council and Home Office are behind the national campaign, using materials designed to appeal to a wide range of potential applicants.

To find out more about the role of an on-call firefighters visit www.oncallfire.uk or to register your interest with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue here

Firefighter provides fire safety education on trip to South Sudan

A firefighter from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has just returned back to the UK after spending two weeks improving fire safety in migrant camps in South Sudan.

Clare Holmes, a watch manager on Rotherham blue watch, was part of a team of six volunteers who were approached by the ‘Women in the Fire Service’ network to visit the camp, after a request they’d received from an aid charity.

During the two week trip, the team provided ‘train the trainer’ courses for United Nations (UN) camp staff which included community fire safety advice and burn and scald prevention information. Clare and the team also carried out a fire safety assessment of the camp, which is occupied by roughly 120,000 people.

Many camps in South Sudan can hold thousands of people living in makeshift accommodation in close proximity to one another, with schools, hospitals and markets all adding to the risk of fire.  As well as this, all cooking takes place on open fires and fire service response is limited.

Clare said: “The greatest risk in camps like the one we visited in South Sudan is during the dry season which runs from November to March, so it was important to put into place fire safety measures as soon as possible.

“The community were very receptive to our visit and found the training and advice very beneficial. The site staff that we trained will now be able to pass on fire safety guidance to thousands of people living in the camps and hopefully reduce the risk of a fire starting.

“I hope that our work can make the lives of the people we visited safer for years to come.”

The trip to South Sudan was supported by Fire Aid, a charity which provides donations of fire and rescue equipment and training to those in need of such assistance.

The charity recently visited South Sudan in March 2018 and identified a number of substantial fire risks including a lack of awareness of fire safety. It was from this that Women in the Fire Service were asked to request if any of their members could volunteer for a second visit to the country.

It is hoped there will be a follow up visit in 2019.

Staff fund and host Christmas dinner for rough sleepers

Rough sleepers from in and around Sheffield were served a three course Christmas dinner today (Wednesday 12 December) at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s headquarters.

The meal, which consisted of turkey and all the trimmings, was paid for by fire service staff and cooked by the service’s chef. Guests were then served a syrup sponge pudding.

The attendees ate in the service’s café facility, which is shared with Age UK Sheffield, after being invited in by Framework’s Street Outreach team. The leftover food from the event has since been sent to the Salvation Army who will be using it to provide their beneficiaries with a Christmas dinner this evening.

Area Manager Tony Carlin, who has led on getting the meal set up, said: “Working with our partners on the Weather Watch scheme has really brought home for us the issue of homelessness in Sheffield and we, with the support of our staff, wanted to give some rough sleepers at least one hot meal this Christmas.

“For us this is a small gesture but hopefully it will go a long way. Everyone who attended the meal was extremely grateful and, whilst it was great for them to get a dinner, the important thing is that our partner agencies were on hand to offer support too.”

Members of staff based at the service’s headquarters donated £5 each to sponsor one meal for a rough sleeper – with any excess money going towards the Red Cross Weather Watch scheme.

Following the event, the service has set up a JustGiving page – with all proceeds going towards Framework Housing Association. This can be found here.

“We’ve had a lot of people asking us how they can help, so we’ve set up a JustGiving page as part of this event. This means that anybody who wants to contribute can do so by donating a sum of their choice, however big or small,” added Tony.

If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough please call Framework on 0800 066 5358 or Text SOTS to 80800 followed by your message, or visit www.streetlink.org.uk.

Electrical safety quiz – how safe are you?

How safe are you when it comes to electrics in your home?

How safe are your pets?

As part of our Protect Your Pets campaign we’ve designed the below quiz to see how much you know about electrical fire safety.

Have a go for your chance to win one of a great prize collection – including tickets to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, tickets to the Grenoside Pantomime Group’s Aladdin performance and a portable bluetooth speaker worth £35.

We will draw the prize winners on Wednesday 19 December. If you’ve won, we’ll be in touch.

#ProtectYourPets - Electrical Fire Safety Quiz

  • This form collects some personal information - which will be used to contact the randomly selected quiz winner and subsequently be destroyed. By submitting the form you are agreeing for your data to be used in this way.

Fire crews carry out hazardous material training exercise

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue crews from the Barnsley District recently carried out an operational exercise at the Elsecar Heritage Centre in Elsecar.

The exercise was created to test the skills of crews when responding to an incident in which an unknown hazardous material is involved. Elsecar Heritage centre staff played a key role on the day by undertaking role play, allowing crews to deal with real-life casualties.

Delroy Galloway, station manager at Tankersley fire station, said: “Realistic training of this type allows crews to take part in training scenarios that prepare us for actual incidents in the future. This exercise was designed to improve operational effectiveness, firefighter safety and public safety and at times of heightened security.

“This training formed part of an ongoing aim to continually improve major emergency response procedures and i would like to thank everyone who took part.”

This is the second exercise South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has undertaken at the site and other scenarios are being planned to allow crews to train in a realistic environment alongside personnel at the railway site.

Elsecar Heritage Railway runs steam hauled trains and diesel locomotives for members of the public on a regular basis.

 

Service opens doors to rough sleepers

Up to eight people will be able to stay overnight at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) Headquarters, on Eyre Street in Sheffield, this winter – with British Red Cross volunteers on hand to welcome them.

This is thanks to a partnership between various agencies – including Sheffield City Council, British Red Cross, Framework and South Yorkshire Police – and comes into action when the council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol when the weather gets very cold.

Known locally as Weather Watch, the scheme offers somewhere safe and warm for rough sleepers.

Area Manager Tony Carlin said: “Helping people in need and saving lives is core to our mission as a fire service, so it makes perfect sense for us to provide emergency accommodation during particularly severe weather periods.

“This initiative provides comfort, warmth and shelter for rough sleepers and the homeless and is a clear example of public agencies working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in our area.”

Anyone who is homeless, or at risk of losing their accommodation, can call Sheffield City Council on 0114 273 6306 during office hours, or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours.

When Weather Watch kicks in, SYFR will be opening the doors at ‘Central Headquarters’ on the coldest nights at 9pm and places are allocated by contacting Sheffield City Council on the numbers above or by calling into First Point at Howden House.

Staff at HQ will link people up to the Council’s Out of Hours Service when places are full, so that warmth and shelter can be found elsewhere.

Richard Crow, British Red Cross emergency response officer for South Yorkshire said: “We have responded to a request from Sheffield City Council alongside South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to support at this scheme providing emergency shelter to the homeless in the city. British Red Cross volunteers and staff will be on hand to provide practical and emotional support, including the provision of hot food and drinks, and signposting service users to longer-term support where needed.

“The Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours across the UK, working with partners to help people in crisis.”

If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough please call Framework on 0800 066 5358 or Text SOTS to 80800 followed by your message, or visit www.streetlink.org.uk. You can also call the Weather Watch numbers on someone’s behalf (0114 273 6306 or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours) but please do this when you’re with the person so they can provide extra information.

Councillor Jim, Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety at Sheffield City Council, said: “The fire station gives us extra places for people at risk of sleeping rough on the coldest nights, and is somewhere safe and warm.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the fire service and the British Red Cross, and all their staff and volunteers, for working with us on this.

“Homelessness is a growing problem and extra duties placed on councils means increased demand for services. But through this partnership work we’re able to offer more help to more people, which is what we want as a city.”

For more information about help for rough sleepers visit www.sheffield.gov.uk or www.helpushelp.uk.

Who has helped you?

Has someone gone the extra mile for you? Say thank you to someone who has made a difference to you or someone you know.

We want to give a public voice to our staff recognition so that some of our hidden heroes across our fire stations and support teams can get the thank you they deserve.

We know our staff can often make a massive difference to people’s lives through their work to make local people safer- whether it’s attending emergencies, fitting smoke alarms, visiting schools or helping out in their communities.

From firefighters and community safety teams, to volunteers and reception staff, anyone who works for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can be nominated.

To nominate someone, simply head over to our Facebook page (click here) let us know the name of the person and explain in your own words why they should be recognised. Don’t worry if you don’t remember the exact names of the people who helped, just let us know the area and date that you received a good service from us and we should be able to track them down.

If you don’t use Facebook you can also email us at: staffnews@syfire.gov.uk with the details of who you’d like to nominate.

We’ll share some of our favourite stories on social media and the overall winners will be presented awards at our Long Service Good Conduct staff awards ceremony next year.

Pets the focus of new fire safety campaign

Stop putting your animals at risk – that’s the message from firefighters, and a number of special guests,  as they launch a new safety campaign aiming to drive down electrical fires across South Yorkshire.

Figures released by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue today, to coincide with Black Friday, show there have been more than 350 electrical house fires in the county over the last three years.

Data also shows that crews have attended over 76 house fires in the last three years where pets were involved – highlighting that it isn’t just humans who can be affected by fire.

With most of these incidents being described by fire officers as easily preventable – the service has joined forces with a number of local ‘celebs’ to produce a series of online videos that highlight some of the everyday electrical fire risks in the home.

Sheffield Lord Mayor Magid Magid joins Pete McKee, Radio Sheffield’s Sam Cleasby and her husband, and former Arctic Monkeys tour manager, Timm Cleasby, in the series – with the first of which being launched today on social media.

The launch of these videos will also be followed by a range of stalls and educational talks across the county – with people across South Yorkshire urged to act on the three pieces of advice being given out by the fire service.

Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department, said: “When you leave the house in a morning, with the washing machine on and various electrical devices on charge, do you ever think about how your dog, or maybe your rabbit, would escape in the event of a fire? How about your fish, or budgie?

“Anybody who has a pet knows that they are part of the family but they are often overlooked when it comes to escaping in an emergency – with fire as a prime example. We know people are busy and don’t want to ask too much, so we’ve pulled out three simple things that people can do to keep their animal friends safer.

“Most of our electrical fires could have been easily prevented and the most common causes are things like leaving electrical appliances (like washing machines and tumble dryers) on overnight and when people are out, as well as overloading plug sockets.

“Buying ‘knock-off’ electrical equipment, which does not meet safety standards is also something we strongly discourage, as it can be prone to malfunctioning and starting fires. A good rule of thumb is that if it sounds too cheap to be true, it probably is.”

The service’s three top tips to safeguard your pets from electrical fires are:

  • Don’t leave appliances on, and devices charging, at night and when you’re out of the house – to eliminate the risk of these malfunctioning and catching fire.
  • Buy electrical equipment which is genuine and from trusted sources – ‘knock off’ phone chargers and batteries are prone to setting on fire.
  • Don’t overload plug sockets – exceeding the advised current rating (13 amps) can cause them to overheat and catch fire.

Earlier this month firefighters from Central and Lowedges were called to reports of a fire on Reney Road, Sheffield. Upon arrival they found a dog trapped inside a heavily smoke logged flat after a toaster had completely melted.

A different incident, which took place a year ago on Princess Street, Doncaster, saw two dogs trapped in their smoke-filled house during a kitchen fire. They had a lucky escape that day but their owner, Shaleen Ross, said it could have been much worse.

“When you leave the house you don’t think about what might happen when you’re out, especially to your pets,” she added.

“Fortunately the dogs found an air pocket, they got lucky, but we still had to move out of the house for three months as they kitchen was destroyed and there was smoke damage to other areas of the house. It was six weeks before Christmas too.

“Our smoke alarms did activate and were going off for a while, but nobody noticed. All I would say is be careful and make sure things are switched off before you leave the house, especially when you’ve got pets who aren’t able to get themselves out.”

More recently, on Sunday 17 November, crews from Doncaster and Edlington attended a house fire on Anchorage Lane, in Sprotbrough, which was caused by a faulty washing machine that had been left on overnight.

Following the fire, Watch Manager Gary Ridgeway, who was the incident commander on the night, has called for people to make sure washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and other electrical appliances are switched off overnight.

He said: “This incident started after the occupant got in at night and turned the washing machine on before he went to bed. There was a fault in the washing machine which started the fire, filled the kitchen with smoke and caused a significant amount of damage to the property.

“At 2am in the morning, the two people who lived at the house would have had nowhere to go, had it not have been for their neighbours. Fortunately the smoke alarms sounded and they were able to get out, so the outcome wasn’t too bad.

“This is a serious issue for us, though. People think that putting the washer on overnight will be cheaper and save time. It may do, in some cases, but you have to think about the risk and what could happen if there’s a fault and you’re not there to react quickly.

“I would say it’s just not worth it, the cost of some electricity and time is nothing compared to the lasting damage that comes with a fire – be it injury to you, your family or a pet, a kitchen that is completely destroyed or something far worse.”

Joint procurement venture saves fire services thousands

Fire and rescue services in South and West Yorkshire have saved the taxpayer thousands of pounds by working together to buy new rescue equipment to deal with road traffic collisions.

A contract of nearly £1.25 million has been awarded to Weber Rescue UK for the supply of new battery powered cutting equipment to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.

The joint procurement has saved both services time and money- but leaders say it will also make training and maintenance more efficient in the future.

A project team at South Yorkshire led on the process of procuring the equipment whilst team members at West Yorkshire directed the research and development phase of the project.

The specialist cutting gear is to be used primarily at road traffic collisions to safely remove casualties from vehicles. The new equipment will replace old cutting gear within each service and by January 2019, it is expected that all appliances at both services will be modified to include the new battery powered rescue equipment.

Having a standardised provision in cutting gear across both services will ensure that rescue equipment is compatible when crews attend over-the-border incidents. All firefighters at both services will be trained in using the equipment, enabling more efficient and effective working between the two services at incidents within each county.

The new pieces of equipment also bring operational benefits such as an improved cutting force and a longer run time helping to reduce the time to gain access to people who are trapped and injured.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “This is a great investment in standardising operational equipment and will undoubtedly improve our response to rescue incidents. By collaborating on projects such as this with our neighbouring services presents us with a great opportunity to provide a more effective and efficient service to the people we serve.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer John Roberts, said: “We are continually looking at how we can work closely with our partners and neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services. This is a great example of how this approach can work to everyone’s advantage, saving the taxpayer money, reducing the time and effort spent on research and ensuring that when we do respond to emergencies we can work more closely than ever by virtue of carrying identical equipment.”

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd, said “This kind of collaboration is great to see and the results are clear – it saves time for firefighters and saves money for taxpayers.

“We have been clear that joint working between fire and rescue services on procurement makes economic and operational sense. It can drive down prices and improves the service they provide for the public.”

“I commend the fire chiefs in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire for this project, and hope that this kind of closer working will become more widespread across our fire and rescue services.”

The joint procurement project comes following the publication of procurement data information in 2016 by the Home Office. The report found that fire and rescue services were paying similar prices for equipment but purchasing separately, despite financial and operational benefits of buying together.

Fire and rescues services in the UK are now being encouraged to do more collaboratively to drive down the amount spent on essential goods such as frontline equipment and workwear.

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 also received Royal Assent on 31 January last year, placing a new statutory duty on emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Service thanks public for support during bonfire period

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is thanking people across the county today (Monday 12 November) for their support during the bonfire period – with fireworks now being off general sale.

Crews from across the county dealt with the same amount of overall incidents on bonfire night this year than last – but saw a 16 per cent reduction in the number of ‘secondary fires’ they were called to during the course of the evening.

Preventing secondary fires, which include things such as deliberate rubbish and bin fires, as well as out of control bonfires, was a key focus of the service’s work during Operation Dark Nights.

The joint annual initiative, which was launched last month in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, saw officers from both organisations visiting schools across the county to talk about a range of things including peer pressure, the dangers of playing with fire and misusing fireworks.

It also saw parents urged to talk to their children about these dangers and the potential consequences of carelessness and deliberate fire-setting.

The activity ran from mid-October until the week after Bonfire Night itself, to account for any late bonfire parties, and whilst officers welcome the reduction in secondary incidents in comparison to the previous year, they are still urging people to take extra care over the coming months.

“A lot of work took place in the run up to bonfire night and I’d like to thank the public for their support, its pleasing to see that we’ve not seen an increase in incidents attended and have actually had a reduction in some areas, but it is important that we don’t become complacent,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“As we enter winter we’re continuing to urge parents and other responsible adults to have those 5 minute conversations with their kids to find out what they’re upto and outline the potential consequences of playing with fire.”

The service’s specific ‘Operation Dark Nights’ advice included:

  • Speak to your kids and find out what they’re up to – remind them of the damage that fire-setting can do to both people and property.
  • Bring your wheelie bins straight in after collection, and don’t leave them out overnight. These are often a target of arson.
  • Businesses – don’t leave your rubbish and waste lying around!
  • If you’re having a bonfire, make sure it is away from trees, bushes, sheds and fences.
  • Take care with fireworks and never go back to one once it is lit.

Fireworks (including sparklers) can only be bought from registered sellers, for private use, between 15 October and 10 November. They can also be bought between 26 to 31 December and 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year. Outside of these dates they can be purchased from licensed shops.