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

Sprinklers save Rotherham supermarket from fire

Fire officers are repeating calls for businesses to fit sprinklers, after the devices saved a Rotherham supermarket from suffering a serious blaze.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue firefighters attended the incident at Asda Rotherham, Aldwarke Lane in July after a fryer caught fire in the cafe.

But the fire was already out when crews from Rotherham and Dearne stations arrived, there was virtually no fire or water damage and the store was quickly reopened- all thanks to sprinklers which had been fitted to suppress the fire.

Business Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “The fire suppression systems installed by Asda were sophisticated, worked effectively and completely extinguished the fire. There is no doubt that having sprinkler systems like this in place can save businesses massive amounts of time and money by limiting losses of stock and custom in the event that a fire does occur.”

Sprinklers are the most effective way of ensuring that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive. They save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire.

Currently, only commercial premises greater than 20,000m2 must have sprinkler systems installed.

SYFR adopted a position statement last year which specifically advocated the use of sprinklers and other fire suppression systems in non-domestic premises and high-risk residential settings.

For more information, visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice

Water safety warning following temperature rise

Following the recent hot snap, firefighters are urging the public not to swim in lakes and reservoirs.

River flows can be unpredictable and water is often deeper, colder and faster than expected. People should enjoy water safely in swimming pools or safer specialist facilities instead, officers warn.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue works closely with communities to educate them of the dangers surrounding open waters – a key part of their prevention work.

Area Manager Steve Helps, Head of Prevention and Protection at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said, ““We regularly receive 999 calls in the summer about people getting into difficulty in water, so it’s only a matter of time before someone’s safety is really put at risk unless people listen to our advice.

“It can be tempting to cool off in the summer months, but stick to a swimming pool. Hundreds of people drown each year in the UK and places like rivers, lakes or flooded quarries are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.”

Darren Lynch, Regional Raw Water Manager at Yorkshire Water said, “Reservoirs may look tempting to take a swim in but they can be killers and today’s practice rescue will hopefully raise awareness of these risks amongst young people. Cold water shock can lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and heart attacks plus water temperatures remain just as cold in summer as in winter.”

Over 400 people die in the water every year in the UK, and firefighters are urging people to follow some basic rules to stay safe.

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, pollutants and bacteria
  • 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

South Yorkshire dementia project wins Doncaster partnership award

A major partnership to help tackle dementia related house fires in South Yorkshire has won a top local health award.

The South Yorkshire Dementia Action Alliances have worked with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to deliver the ‘Dementia Fire and Home Safety Project’. The partners beat off competition from six other organizations to win the ‘best organisation’ gong at the Doncaster Dementia Awards, held at Doncaster College.

Under the scheme, coordinators in each of South Yorkshire’s four districts have promoted fire safety to a range of organisations working with people living with dementia and their carers, in a bid to reduce the risk of fire and the associated consequences.

Part of the co-ordinators’ role included promoting the fire service’s home safety check service, whereby trained fire service staff visit people’s homes and talk to them about preventing fires and other accidents and fit smoke alarms where needed.

The project will also work with the fire service on a safety campaign specifically targeting those living with dementia and their carers, including a number of roadshows across the county.

More than 15,000 people across South Yorkshire have been diagnosed with dementia – with thousands more thought to be undiagnosed.  Dementia is known to be a major factor involved in accidental house fires and fire related injuries and deaths.

Officers believe the project will benefit the fire service by providing a vital link with one of its key target groups in terms of vulnerability to fire.

Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “In the last decade, the fire service has helped to make South Yorkshire safer than it has been at any time in its history in terms of house fires and fire related deaths and injuries. But we believe we can play a much wider role in terms of tackling some of the big health challenges our country faces in the future.”

“This project is the perfect illustration of that aspiration, where we use the coordinated efforts and expertise of those at the frontline of dementia care to improve the lives of one of the most vulnerable groups in society.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is also a member of the Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Alliance, which is committed to tackling the growing issue of dementia within our communities.

Hundreds of its staff have also signed up to become Dementia Friends – a Government backed initiative which teaches people a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia, and then turns that understanding into action.

A monthly memory café at Adwick fire station in Doncaster also sees the fire service host support for people living with dementia and their carers. The fire service’s Pete Jones was highly commended for his work in setting up the project at last year’s Doncaster Dementia Awards.

The South Yorkshire Dementia Action Alliances project was awarded funding under the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, with money which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

For more information on preventing fires visit www.syfire.gov.uk or see below for a video produced by the project, which explains the links between dementia and fire.

BBQ safely say firefighters ahead of bank holiday weekend

South Yorkshire residents planning to celebrate the warm weather with a barbecue this weekend are being reminded to take some basic steps to ensure their party plans don’t go up in smoke.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue say al fresco cooking carries a potential fire risk- but only if barbecues are used incorrectly.

Trevor Bernard, Head of Community Safety, said: “Many people will be taking advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and after a week of rain, who can blame them. All we are saying is before you get started with the sausages and kebabs, take a minute to decide where you’re going to site it. Then, when the coals are properly cooled, dispose of them safely.”

To make sure your barbecue goes to plan:

  • Site it on a flat surface well away from trees, shrubs and grassland
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand close by, just in case
  • Never use petrol or paraffin on a barbecue, only recognised lighters and starter fuels
  • Make sure the coals have properly cooled before disposal and empty ashes onto bare soil, not into the bin

Recent high-profile deaths on campsites involving barbecues have also prompted safety campaigners to remind campers of the fatal consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Barbecues continue to give off the deadly gas even after the coals are cool. So campers should never use barbecues inside tents, or to stay warm indoors.

House fires fall across South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire has recorded its lowest ever number of house fires.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it attended 561 accidental house blazes in 2016/17- an 11 per cent drop on the previous year’s figure (629). It’s also nearly half the number attended by the fire service 15 years ago (1008).

Fire officers say the latest figures are proof that its efforts to make people safer are paying off, with firefighters having carried out nearly 300,000 safety checks in people’s homes since 2006.

Staff also spoke to more than 30,000 children last year, as part of its education work in schools and the fire service has run successful campaigns targeting older people, electrical and cooking blazes.

But to maintain the record low figures, bosses say they need to become even more targeted in their prevention work and for local people, organisations and charities to get more involved.

Head of Prevention Steve Helps, said: “South Yorkshire is safer from house fires now than it has been at any time in its history, but people should never become complacent when it comes to fire safety. Every single incident we do attend is someone’s own, personal disaster and, potentially, someone’s tragedy.

“That’s why we need the help of local people and organisations to support our work. Nearly all of the most serious house fires we attend involve some common issues which are often being dealt with by other agencies, or involve people who are known by neighbours or loved ones to be at higher risk. The fire service can often put in place measures to prevent deaths from fire- but only if an individual is referred to us for support.”

Top tips for preventing house fires include:

  • Make sure you have smoke alarms on every floor of your home. Test them regularly.
  • Take extra care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended
  • Don’t overload electric sockets– most can only take a maximum of 13 amps
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children
  • Put out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully

South Yorkshire care homes reminded of fire safety laws duty

Business fire safety officers are reminding care home owners in South Yorkshire of their obligations under safety laws, after a serious incident in Hertfordshire over the weekend.

The circumstances around the fire in Cheshunt where two people sadly died are still being investigated, but South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) says the incident is another reminder of the risks associated with residential care facilities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is the enforcing body for business fire safety laws locally, with care homes and other specialist accommodation falling under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Business Fire Safety Manager Amy Jenkinson said: “People living in residential care homes are often very vulnerable to fire. They may have limited mobility, or a disability, which makes it difficult for them to notice a fire and react quickly.

“That’s why it is so important care providers and care home owners take their fire safety responsibilities seriously and why we are working with them to improve fire safety where needed.”

The fire service says there are a number of things that care providers should consider to reduce their risk of fire and save lives, including:

  • Carrying out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment to ensure the safety of the people in your care, and your staff.
  • Fitting sprinklers. They are a potentially life saving tool that can be effective in stopping fires from spreading quickly, particularly in buildings occupied by people with reduced mobility.
  • Training staff in the evacuation of people from residential care
  • Learning to spot the signs of a person who is more at risk being seriously injured in a fire, or who poses a greater risk of accidentally starting a fire, and put in place reasonable steps to prevent it

For more information on business fire safety law, click here

BBQ warning after hot weather fires

South Yorkshire firefighters are warning residents to use barbecues carefully, after a spate of fires coinciding with the spring heatwave.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue attended several incidents over the weekend caused by careless use of

The incidents included an unattended BBQ which set fire to an outhouse on Birchall Avenue, Rotherham at around 9pm on Saturday.

Elsewhere, a BBQ ignited wooden decking at a property on Leybourne Road, Sheffield just before midnight on Saturday and a BBQ ignited bushes on Station Road, Woodhouse at around 9pm on Sunday.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue say al fresco cooking carries a potential fire risk- but only if barbecues are used incorrectly.

Trevor Bernard, head of community safety, said: “Many people will have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend. All we are saying is before you get started with the sausages and kebabs, take a minute to decide where you’re going to site it. Then, when the coals are properly cooled, dispose of them safely.”

To make sure your barbecue goes to plan:

  • Site it on a flat surface well away from trees, shrubs and grassland
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand close by, just in case
  • Never use petrol or paraffin on a barbecue, only recognised lighters and starter fuels
  • Make sure the coals have properly cooled before disposal and empty ashes onto bare soil, not into the binBarbecues continue to give off the deadly gas even after the coals are cool. So campers should never use barbecues inside tents, or to stay warm indoors.
  • Recent high-profile deaths on campsites involving barbecues have also prompted safety campaigners to remind campers of the fatal consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Celebrate safely this Chinese New Year

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue wises everyone taking part in Chinese New Year festivities a happy and safe celebration.

Chinese New Year (28 January 2017) is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.  For many it’s a time to celebrate the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.

With more people at home – cooking while entertaining or relaxing with family or friends, the risk of fire increases.  People are more likely to be distracted during this time of year and therefore more vulnerable to fire.

Safety tips:

  • Most fires start in the kitchen – never leave cooking unattended. When cooking deep-fried food, never fill the pan more than one-third full of oil. Never throw water over the pan.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and animals – children should be supervised at all times near flames. Keep flames from candles at a safe distance from curtains, furniture and decorations.
  • Treat fireworks with caution – only buy fireworks marked with British Safety Standard 7114 and always read the instructions.
  • We would encourage you not to use flying lanterns -but if you do use them, please always read the manufacturers instructions before use.
  • Avoid overloading electrical sockets – try to remember, one plug – one socket. If you must have more plugs connected always use a fused adaptor.

Odds slashed on fire service’s Everly Pregnant number one bid after half a million views

Bookies have slashed the odds on firefighters reaching Christmas number one alongside one of Sheffield’s best loved bands after half a million people viewed their music video online in less than a week.

William Hill have halved the odds on The Everly Pregnant Brothers’ chart topping tilt after a video recorded with red watch firefighters and 999 operators at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Central fire station went viral.

The 25-to-one shots are now above early favourites Cliff Richard and The Pogues in the chase for the coveted festive number one spot.

The parody band’s catchy reworking of a popular hit tells the cautionary tale of a man who sets his house alight after a night out drinking- which fire officers hope will raise public awareness of one of the biggest causes of kitchen blazes.

The track has also been released to remind people of the contribution of thousands of firefighters and other emergency services workers who will be on duty this Christmas Day.

Good causes will benefit from the assault on the festive song summit, with cash raised from sales of the single going to charities Age UK and Shelter.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: “Every now and then you come across a song that should have no chance but this is great fun and ticks many boxes. We have already slashed the odds from 50/1 to 25/1 and this could be one of the greatest shocks in chart history.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Chip pan fires are no joke and we attend dozens of serious house fires caused by unattended cooking every year- but sometimes there’s a place for trying to get an important safety message across in a slightly different way, which is why we teamed up with Everly Pregnant Brothers.

“We’re going for Christmas number one to remind people that tens of thousands of firefighters and other emergency services staff across the country will be working this Christmas Day to keep you safe, including red watch firefighters and control staff who helped to make this video.

“The fire service’s ethos is all about helping the most vulnerable people in our communities, so it’s also fitting that the record is raising money for Shelter and Age UK, both of whom are fantastic causes important partners of ours.”

Everly Pregnant Brothers’ lead singer Shaun Doane, said: “Like most things with the Everly Pregnant Brothers, this started as something small, a tweet in fact, and it’s grown and mutated into something pretty cool. Hopefully we can help raise a few quid for two great causes.”

The Everly Pregnant Brothers are a ukulele band formed in 2009 and kicked off their number one campaign this weekend with a gig at Sheffield’s O2 Academy- where they were joined on stage by Central red watch firefighters, who starred in the video.

The ‘Chip Pan’ track is available to pre-order on iTunes, Google Play Music, Amazon, Spotify and Deezer. But to give the song the best chance of reaching number one when the official Christmas chart is released, the public are asked to only download the song after 16 December.