House fires drop in South Yorkshire amid small arsons rise

House fires and false alarms dropped in South Yorkshire last year, a report to the fire service’s governing Fire Authority will say.

There were 72 fewer property fires, 59 less accidental house fires and 92 less automated fire alarms in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue also carried out more than 12,000 home safety checks, whereby fire service staff visit a person’s home to offer safety advice and fit smoke alarms where needed.

But there was a slight increase in fire deaths and serious injuries. With many of those dying aged over 60, the service recently launched its ‘Find The Time’ campaign which calls on those with older relatives or neighbours to take some simple steps to keep their loved ones safe.

There was also a big spike in small deliberate fires, like grass and rubbish fires, following one of the hottest summers in years. It’s prompted the service to ramp up its community work ahead of the warmer weather, including the delivery of a new joint anti-social behaviour schools education package alongside South Yorkshire Police.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “We’re pleased that our work to make people safer has contributed to a big drop in house fires. Much of it is down to the targeted approach of our firefighters and community safety teams in prioritising their work at those most at risk of fire.

“But we know there’s more to do, which is why we continue to call on partners to help us to help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, by becoming one of our referral partners.”

The figures are included in the service’s annual corporate performance report, which will be presented to the Fire Authority at its meeting on 24 June

Station open days – summer 2019

A number of South Yorkshire fire stations will be holding an open day this summer. Please see list below for details.

Rotherham station – 27 July, 10am to 4pm, Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham S65 1ST

Thorne station – 2 August, 10am to 4pm, Union Road, Thorne, Doncaster DN8 5EL

Lowedges station – 10 August, 11am to 3pm, Lowedges Road, Sheffield S8 7JN

Barnsley station – 17 August, 10am onwards, Broadway, Barnsley S70 6RA

Central station – 24 August, 10am to 4pm, Eyre Street, Sheffield (for sat nav use S1 3HU)

Askern station – 25 August, 10am onwards, Moss Road, Askern, Doncaster DN6 0JX

Doncaster station – 27 August, 10am to 3pm, Leicester Avenue, Doncaster, DN2 6DR

Cudworth station – 7 September, 10am to 1pm, Tumbling Lane, Barnsley, S71 5SA

Fire service steps up as part of national water safety week

Local firefighters will be visiting lakes and reservoirs across the county next week, commencing Monday 17 June, as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue turns its attention to water safety and drowning prevention.

The work comes as the service gives its backing to a national Drowning Prevention Week – which is being spearheaded by The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK).

Collectively SYFR, and RLSS UK, want to try and reduce the 700 drownings that occur across the UK and Ireland each year.

During the course of the week crews will be visiting water sites that they have previously attended, and that have been identified by the public through an online campaign.

Whilst there they will be identifying any potential risks and outlining what preventative measures could be put in place at each location.

Station Manager Tom Hirst, who has been organising the service’s activity, is hoping that the work being done will help make South Yorkshire’s water sites safer for local people.

“Water rescues are one of the many incident types we attend and, sadly, we’ve had a number of calls in recent years where people have drown in open bodies of water,” he said.

“Even in hot weather, when people start to get attracted to lakes and reservoirs, water can be freezing cold and, as such, extremely dangerous.

“Our ambition is to try and stop drownings altogether but, of course, that will require a strong collective effort. That work starts this week.

“We’ve got a long list of sites, right across the county, that we’ll be visiting – and risk assessing. We can then identify places that might benefit from things such as security fencing, floatation equipment and warning signage.”

As well as being supported by local crews, the service’s community safety teams will be visiting local schools and youth groups to explain the dangers of playing in, or near, water.

“Our advice for the public, especially with summer coming, is to just be extra careful around open water. Unless you’re part of an authorised open water swimming group, keep out of it.

“Even if it looks nice and appealing, you have no idea how cold it is, what lies beneath the water or indeed what water borne bacteria and diseases might be in the water itself.”

According to officers, the dangers of unauthorised swimming in open water include it being much deeper and colder than people might think, the presence of diseases and bacteria in the water and the stuff – such as trollies, weeds and hidden currents – that might lie beneath.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has recently launched its new ‘Float To Live’ campaign, which encourages anyone who gets caught in open water to fight the urge to swim and focus on floating until help arrives.

Off duty firefighter given top bravery honour

Off duty firefighter receives top bravery honour A South Yorkshire firefighter has been honoured with the service’s highest bravery award.

Crew Manager Paul Holbrook was off duty when there there was a road traffic collision on the M18 North motorway involving three vehicles.

The collision in September last year saw a driver thrown from one of the cars and left his passenger trapped in the vehicle – which was overturned. Paul was travelling with his family that day on the same stretch of motorway, and was caught in the traffic jam caused by the collision.

Upon seeing the incident ahead Paul left his vehicle, with traffic stood still, and ran to the scene. Once there, he identified a substantial petrol leak and immediately took charge of the incident.

He assessed the casualty and removed her from a difficult position in the overturned car before moving her to a place of safety. He then stayed with her on the hard shoulder and continued to provide casualty care. When crews arrived he was able to provide a full handover and continued to help all three blue light services until the casualties were taken by the ambulance service.

Presenting Paul with a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation, CFO James Courtney said: “It is quite clear that in doing what he did Crew Manager Holbrook displayed bravery and complete selflessness. He went forward to help when he had the option not to – displaying the true values of the fire and rescue service.

“The on-duty Watch Manager, who took over the scene from Paul, has since praised his quick thinking and his actions – which stopped the incident from escalating and, most importantly, potentially saved this lady’s life.”

Paul was presented with a certificate in front of family, friends, colleagues and Fire Authority members at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Central fire station in Sheffield.

Aston Park crew finds the time for older residents

Older people from in and around the Aston area attended a special open day, held at their local fire station, earlier this week.

The event, which took place on Tuesday 21 May, saw over 20 people given specific advice and guidance on how they can stay safe from fire, and other risks, in their homes – over tea and scones.

This advice came from various different agencies – including South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, as well as the fire service.

The event was delivered in line with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s latest safety campaign, Find The Time, and included a slipper swap, with each of the attendees being given a brand new pair of non-slip slippers in exchange for their old ones.

Home safety checks, for after the event, were also organised for the attendees.

“The feedback from the event was really positive, so much so that we’ve been asked to run another event later in the year,” said Aston Park Station Manager Gavin Jones, who organised the open day.

“Not only did all of the attendees enjoy it, and have an opportunity to socialise and meet new people, but collectively we hope that the safety advice, the new slippers and a chair based exercise session that was also delivered will make these people safer, happier and healthier.

“I’d like to thank all those who attended and, of course, everyone who helped run the event.”

Fire and Police join forces on water rescue training

Six police officers from South Yorkshire have received specialist water rescue training thanks to a unique collaboration with the fire service’s specialist training school.

The ‘water rescue champions’ from South Yorkshire Police recently completed a water rescue first responder course delivered by expert trainers at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue. The course provided the officers with basic water rescue skills and awareness that they can use when they are first on scene to a water related emergency situation.

The two day course, which took place in Wales, covered a number of simple rescue techniques such as; a tethered swim, the use of throwlines, wading techniques, understanding the dangers of water and the use of water rescue gear.

Station Manager at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, Darren Robertson said: “Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. By working closely with our partner agencies and sharing skills and knowledge through training, we can work towards reducing these numbers.

“Not only does collaborating on training like this save both services and the public money, but it also ensures we are delivering the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire.”

As a result of the training, South Yorkshire Police have also purchased a number of throwlines to keep in patrol vehicles in case of a water rescue emergency.

Inspector at South Yorkshire Police, Alan McFarlane said: “The preservation of life is the most important duty the police have. The Rotherham district contains a number of bodies of open water, including Manvers Lake, where there have sadly been a number of drownings over the years.

“In order to increase the police’s ability to act effectively in open-water emergencies, the Rotherham District has purchased a number of throw-bag rescue aids to be carried in patrol cars.

“Having a number of officers trained in basic water rescue means they can now share this water awareness knowledge with other officers in the force.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue which will improve our capabilities, coordination with the fire service and ultimately help to keep the people of South Yorkshire safe.”

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 dangers of open water are:

  • The water can be much deeper than you expect
  • Rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs are much colder than you think
  • Open water can carry water borne diseases, like Weils disease
  • Cold water dramatically affects your ability to swim
  • There may be hidden currents, which can pull you under the water
  • You don’t know what lies beneath, like pieces of rubbish or reeds which can trap or injure you

Fire service seeks views from public on draft plans

The fire service is calling on people in South Yorkshire to have their say on how it plans to meet a financial shortfall of up to £4million.

Draft plans considered by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s governing Fire Authority last month propose reducing the number of firefighters on a fire engine from five to four.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says the only alternative to making the change- which has already been adopted by many other services nationwide- is to reduce the speed of its 999 response during the night time period from up to half of its fire stations.

The organisation faces cost pressures of up to £4 million, due to no longer being able to use a way of staffing fire stations called Close Proximity Crewing and because it may have to meet a significant, national shortfall in pension contributions.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “We’d rather not make any changes at all, but have a duty to match our resources to local risk and to manage the service in a financially responsible way.

“We face cost pressures of up to £4 million and the extent of the savings required is inevitably going to mean changes to the way we provide our 999 service to the public.

“We think it is better to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine, than it is to slow down our response times to some of our communities by reducing the number of fire engines which are immediately available.

“Now we are publishing our draft plans and invite the public to share their views on them.”

All fire and rescue authorities must provide a plan which sets out the steps they will take and resources they need to deliver public safety, reduce fires and save lives. This is known as an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). It must be publicly available, reflect consultation with stakeholders and demonstrate the most up-to-date analysis of local risk.

People can share their views via an online survey, at www.syfire.gov.uk/haveyoursay, or in writing to IRMP Consultation, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, 197 Eyre Street, Sheffield S1 3FG. The consultation will run for 12-weeks, across May, June, July and August.

Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.

Have your say – public consultation

We’re calling on people across South Yorkshire to have their say on how we plan to meet a four million pound financial shortfall.

We currently face cost pressures of up to £4million, due to no longer being able to use a way of staffing our fire stations called Close Proximity Crewing, and because we might have to meet a significant, national shortfall in pension contributions.

Our proposals, which are outlined in our draft Integrated Risk Management Plan, were considered by our governing Fire Authority last month.

The key proposal within this plan is to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine from five to four, in order to maintain the number of fire engines we have available 24/7 across the county.

This is a change that has already been adopted by many services across the country and we would rather so this than reduce the speed of our 999 response, during the night, at up to half of our fire stations.

In making this change we would review our existing procedures to ensure the safety of our firefighters and, importantly, would continue to commit breathing apparatus wearers to house fires regardless of whether we have a five or four person crew – with other fire engines providing back-up as needed.

We’re now publishing our draft plans, which you can see via the link above, and want you to have your say via the survey below. The consultation will run for 12-weeks, across May, June, July and August.

Before filling out the survey – we have published a series of Frequently Asked Questions that outline why we need to make these savings, what else we’ve done to save money, why we can’t use our reserves and more.

This form collects some personal information – which will be used for monitoring purposes only, to ensure we capture views from people across the whole of South Yorkshire. By sending us a completed form you are agreeing for your data to be used in this way. More information on data sharing and protection can be found here.

Police and fire launch initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour

Efforts to curb anti-social behaviour in South Yorkshire will be boosted by the launch of a new schools education package to be jointly delivered by the police and fire services.

The ‘Equinox’ package has been developed by South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s joint community safety department and aims to provide young people with key safety messages relating to anti-social behaviour during the light night period.

Four new neighbourhood fire community safety officers will be delivering the package, which lasts around 30 minutes and is free of charge, to year 9 pupils across the county.

The presentation covers a range of unacceptable anti-social behaviour activities which may cause harm to an individual, the community or the environment and students will be informed of the potential consequences of such behaviour. This includes; arson, hoax calls, off road motor-biking and vandalism.

Head of the joint community safety department, Steve Helps said: “Engaging with young people in this way is one of the best ways of building lasting, positive relationships which have long term benefits for the communities we serve.”

“Anti-social behaviour can put a big strain on local communities, so having packages like this available to schools will help to educate and inspire young people to make the correct life choices.”

The package will be offered to schools around South Yorkshire during the spring term as part of Operation Equinox, a joint police and fire initiative which aims to reduce anti-social behaviour during the spring and summer months.

Any schools requiring further information about the “Equinox” package or to book a session, please contact one of the team’s neighbourhood fire community safety officers;

Charlie Fox- 07717513071 sfox@syfire.gov.uk

Helen Woodacre -07771972600 hwoodacre@syfire.gov.uk

John Lamming- 07776225782 jlamming@syfire.gov.uk

Joe McCreesh- 07741195041 jmccreesh@syfire.gov.uk

The joint community safety department brings together staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police to work together with the shared aim of keeping people safe. High profile activities the teams currently undertake include home safety checks, crime prevention visits and youth engagement activities such as the award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme, which has helped to transform the lives of more than 250 young people in two years.

The team also operates the Lifewise Centre which is an interactive safety centre in Hellaby, Rotherham. It opened in 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year, including nearly every Year 6 pupil in South Yorkshire.

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.

Launch of new Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers

Earlier this month four new Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers joined the Joint Community Safety Department to work collaboratively with partners and assist in delivering fire safety and crime prevention advice to our local communities.

The Neighbourhood Fire Community Safety Officers (NFCSO), who will work jointly across South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, as part of the collaboration programme between the organisations, will spend time co-located in the neighbourhood hubs, addressing local issues and reducing demand.

The new roles, funded by the Fire Authority’s Stronger and Safer Community Reserves (SSCR), will see the officers working with our local authority partners over the next three years to enhance and embed the work of the Community Safety Department through early intervention and effective problem solving approaches.

The specifics of this work will include identifying opportunities to work directly with members of the community to highlight the dangers of fires, provide support to vulnerable members of the community and raising awareness of the different services provided by the Joint Community Safety Department.

The officers will also work closely with representatives from Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham Councils, partner agencies, local community groups, and colleagues in emergency response roles, to embed multi-agency working, improve the services provided to our communities and reduce anti-social behaviour across South Yorkshire.

Head of the Joint Community Safety Department, Steve Helps, comments on the introduction of the new roles, “Our NFCSOs will be instrumental in providing support to vulnerable members of our local communities and in offering our services to those individuals we consider to be most at need.

“These officers will help us to do even more to reduce demand and better protect the communities we serve, allowing us to become even more targeted in what we do and the people we engage with.”

Matt Gillatt, Community Safety Department station manager, has also commented on the positive impact the new roles will have, “By working directly in the neighbourhood hubs, the new officers with be able to work in partnership with police and fire colleagues to target intervention activities in areas with high levels of reported anti-social behaviour and raise awareness of the dangers of arson.

“It will also allow them to work more closely with local councillors to provide assistance to vulnerable members of our communities and create closer links between fire crews and neighbourhood police officers, in order to improve the services we provide.”

This work forms part of the wider successful collaborative programme between South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, which launched in early 2017 to build on existing activities undertaken in collaboration between both organisations. The work within the programme has already led to the creation of a Joint Police and Fire Station in Maltby, Rotherham, the development of a Joint Community Safety Department and the appointment of a Head of Joint Estates and Facilities Management.