Fire funded sprinklers installed in historic Thorne autism residential home

Sprinklers installed in the converted home of a Doncaster brewery magnate now used to support people with autism, have been hailed as proof that the potentially lifesaving equipment can be fitted in almost any setting.

The devices have been fitted at charity Autism Plus’ residential living service, Thorne House, once the home of Thorne Brewery owners the Darley family, despite the challenges of fitting the devices in a historic building.

The sprinkler scheme behind the installation, which has been part funded by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority was carefully planned and communicated to the people living in the property, considering the needs of residents with autism and learning disabilities to ensure that anyone affected by the noise of building work, unfamiliar visitors and disruption to their daily routines was kept to a minimum.

All five apartments and other rooms and communal spaces in the home are protected and all pipework and sprinklers heads have been concealed to limit the affect on some of the internal architectural features of the late Victorian building.

Fire officers say the installation is proof of their commitment to championing the use of sprinklers in higher risk, residential settings.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making homes safer – they stop fires from spreading, put them out quickly and save lives. We are especially concerned about those people who are most at risk of fire such as those with mobility or mental health issues or people with dementia who may not know how to react, or be able to react quickly enough, if they hear a smoke alarm.

“We play a key leadership role in helping people to better understand the benefits of sprinklers as part our commitment to reduce the impact of fire on people, property and the environment. This scheme, despite its obvious challenges, is proof of the fact that these potentially life saving devices can be fitted in almost any setting.”

The fire service last year announced a fund to encourage more housing providers to install them in buildings lived in by those residents most at risk from fire.

SYFR is one of the leading fire services in the country for its pioneering use of sprinklers in high risk residential settings, leading a UK first project to retrofit an automated system at the Callow Mount block of flats in Gleadless. That scheme is now internationally recognised for the improved safety it offers the people living within the building.

It has also worked alongside Sheffield City Council to make more than 540 properties in the city safer by installing lifesaving sprinkler systems at council owned flats in Gleadless Valley, Westfield, Stannington and Netherthorpe. This project was another UK first.

The installation of sprinkler systems in new build homes is now mandatory in Wales and SYFR is actively promoting the use of this type of protection in all types of buildings to build resilience and safety into local communities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund is open to any social or private housing provider. It will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.  It forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves. Autism Plus won £159,000 in funding from the Fire Authority for this scheme.

Fire Authority Chair, Cllr Chris Lamb, said: “This fund exists to do exactly what it says on the tin – to help make South Yorkshire safer and stronger.

“It is clear that sprinklers can potentially save not only property, but lives too, and we hope this example will encourage other housing providers to consider getting such systems installed, especially in the homes of our more vulnerable residents.”

For more information, visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.

Service makes plea to local businesses as part of national safety initiative

Firefighters from across South Yorkshire have attended more than 1,500 fires in non-domestic properties in the last five years, figures show.

The revelation comes as South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) joins forces with fire services across the country next week (Monday 10 September) as part of a national business safety campaign.

As part of the initiative, which runs for the full week, fire officers are urging business owners and managers to ensure their risk assessments are up to date and, if they aren’t, to get in touch and take advantage of the support available.

“When we talk about business fire safety, and fire risk assessments, it’s not just a form filling exercise – it is a process which helps safeguard businesses from the devastation that fire can cause,” said SYFR Business Support & Policies Officer, John Parry.

“The sheer fact that we’ve attended such a large amount of fires, in non-domestic properties, in the last five years shows that this is a real issue. A fire, be it accidental or deliberate, can in some circumstances stop a business from trading altogether.

“Our message to local businesses, especially SMEs who might be particularly vulnerable, is therefore really simple – if you’ve not got an updated fire risk assessment in place or you have any concerns at all about fire safety then get in touch. We are here to help!”

In addition to urging businesses to ensure their fire risk assessments are up to date, SYFR is also offering a range of business-specific safety advice during the week.

This includes good housekeeping, keeping escape routes clear, providing appropriate firefighting equipment and taking steps to protect against arson and deliberate fire-setting.

Another way that business owners can safeguard themselves from fire is through sprinklers – which are able to detect and potentially extinguish fires before they get out of control and cause lasting damage.

More information on sprinklers, and contact details for the SYFR Sprinkler Lead, can be found here: http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.

To get in touch with the SYFR Business Safety Team – who will be able to offer information and advice on commercial and industrial premises – please visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/get-in-touch-2/.

National Business Safety Week is championed by the National Fire Chiefs Council and runs from Monday 10 until Friday 16 September. The initiative is supported by fire and rescue services across the country and aims to make businesses aware of the help and support available to them.

Sprinkler system installed to safeguard Rotherham care facility residents

Residents of a high dependency care facility in a Rotherham suburb are now safer from fire than ever before thanks to a fire funded sprinkler initiative.

The 15 bedded facility – which is based within three large bungalows in Thurcroft – houses people with both learning disabilities and mobility problems.

It is run by the South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) who, earlier this year, won match funding from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s (SYFRA) sprinkler fund to pay for a state-of-the-art sprinkler system.

Installed earlier this year the devices cover every room in each of the three buildings and, combined with the existing fire alarm system, provide residents with a high level of fire protection.

“The people living within this facility are some of the most vulnerable in South Yorkshire which is why we’re really pleased that they now have such an effective fire protection system in place,” said South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Sprinkler Advocate, Roger Brason.

“We know that sprinklers are a cost-effective way of making homes safer as they stop fires from spreading and in most cases actually put them out fully. We’re passionate about helping people better understand this and the benefits of these potentially life-saving systems.”

Following the installation of the system a cheque was presented, by Councillor Alan Atkin on behalf of the Fire Authority, to SYHA earlier this week (Wednesday 22 August).

The sprinkler fund was made available last year. It is open to any social or private housing provider and will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.

This facility is one of five places that were awarded match funding from the Fire Authority when it made the sprinkler fund available last year.

It is hoped that the work done so far to install these systems will encourage more housing providers to consider installing sprinklers in their buildings – especially in the homes of residents considered at higher risk of fire.

The sprinkler fund forms part of the SYFRA’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve Fund, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

For more information on sprinklers please visit http://www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice/sprinklers-2/.

The picture above shows Councillor Alan Atkin presenting a cheque, on behalf of the Fire Authority, to South Yorkshire Housing Association.

Praise for firefighters and public safety plea as hot dry weather continues

Fire officers have praised crews for their work in tackling a higher than average number of incidents- and called on the public help prevent blazes.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s control room handled 336 emergency calls in the last 24 hours (8am Monday 23 July to 8am Tuesday 24 July), with crews being mobilised to 87 incidents across the county, including some which took several hours to tackle.

Many of the incidents the fire service has dealt with have been grass and rubbish fires, or in some cases bonfires which have spread to sheds, shrubs and trees.

Head of Emergency Response Tony Carlin, said: “Our crews are providing a fantastic service in what are clearly very hot, difficult firefighting conditions. We are proud of each and every one of our firefighters and control operators and they are rightly receiving praise from the public during what is a busier than usual period for us.

“But with the forecast set to remain warm and dry for several weeks, we really need people to help us, help them by taking some basic precautions to prevent fires. For example, take rubbish with you if you are out and about in the countryside as glass bottles and cigarette ends can easily start fires.

“We’d much rather people put off having garden bonfires until the hot, dry weather has subsided, but if you do insist on having a fire make sure it is sited well away from sheds, buildings and trees and don’t leave it unattended.

“And with around three quarters of all the fires we attend being arson, report people starting fires in your area to police 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.”

For more information on preventing fires visit www.syfire.gov.uk

Grass fire warning during hot weather

Fire crews are warning the public to take extra care during this period of hot weather to avoid any accidental grass fires.

During hot and dry weather the risk of grass fires increases, but following a few simple steps can greatly reduce the chance of a fire starting.

Fire officers are asking people to help prevent grass fires by:

• Not using open fires in the countryside

• Making sure any barbecue or disposable barbecue is only used in a suitable location and is extinguished properly after use

• Extinguishing cigarettes completely and not throwing cigarette ends on the ground

• Not leaving bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires

Fire crews want their resources available to protect the communities of South Yorkshire, incidents involving accidental grass fires can use up a lot of these vital resources.

Throwline stations unveiled in Rotherham

A throwline station has been unveiled next to a Rotherham canal.

The potentially life saving equipment has been installed close to the spot where a schoolboy drowned in 2016 and has been funded by Parkgate Shopping.

More than 20 throwline stations have been installed at open water sites across South Yorkshire in the last two years, including Doncaster Lakeside, Ulley Reservoir and Thrybergh Country Park. The lifelines have all been installed by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue working in conjunction with local partners.

The specially designed equipment contains throwlines which are stored securely to avoid vandalism, with an access code given to callers by 999 operators in the event of an emergency.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. These stations provide quick access rescue capability for anyone who might find themselves in difficulties in the water.

Cooking safety advice during Ramadan

The fire service is calling on South Yorkshire’s Muslim communities to take extra care ahead of one of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue fears people are more likely to be at risk of fire during Ramadan, which began on 15 May.

Ramadan lasts for 30 days and is observed by fasting during daylight hours, with cooking taking place before sunrise or after sunset.

Head of community safety Trevor Bernard, said: “We recognise this is a really important time in the Islamic calendar, but want to make sure people observe it safely. In particular, people should take extra care to keep an eye on their cooking, as fasting could leave you feeling tired and more likely to become distracted or have an accident.

“Smoke alarms are the best way of making sure that if a fire does occur, you have the vital extra minutes to escape. So make sure smoke alarms are fitted on every level of your home and test them regularly.

“It’s also vital that if the smoke alarms do sound, everyone in the house knows what to do and knows how to escape, so talk this through with your family and loved ones.”

Top tips for staying safe during Ramadan include:

  • Cooking– Half of all house fires start in the kitchen, so take extra care when cooking, particularly with hot oil – it sets alight easily
  • Never throw water on a burning pan– in the event of a fire get out, stay out and call 999
  • Take extra care with clothing– make sure hijaabs, shalwar, kameez and saris are kept well away from the hob
  • Practise escape routes– and make sure every member of your family knows it well
  • Have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home– test them weekly to make sure they work.

Importance of having the right smoke alarms for people who are deaf or hard of hearing highlighted during awareness week

We are supporting Deaf Awareness Week by highlighting the importance of having the right smoke alarms for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

It’s essential that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have the right smoke alarms in their homes and ensure they can contact 999 in an emergency.  Some people may need additional equipment to make them aware the smoke alarm has been activated.  SYFR offers free Home Safety Checks (HSC’s) to people who people who are deaf or hard of hearing; during our visit Community Safety staff will assess the need for a specialist alarm and offer advice about keeping safe at home.

SYFR has introduced a Text line for deaf and hard of hearing communities to book a HSC.

To book a HSC please text 07776 225 696

  • Start your text with ‘HSC’
  • Your name
  • Your full address

If you have concerns that a friend or relative may not be able to hear their smoke alarms, please call: 01114 253 2314 or visit www.syfire.gov.uk to book a visit.

SYFR also urge people who are unable to make a voice call to 999 to register their mobile phones with the emergency SMS service. This allows them to text an emergency call to any of the UK’s emergency services.

To do this they should text ‘register’ to 999 and then follow the instructions received. Or for further information visit www.emergencysms.org.uk

Once registered the person can make an emergency call by sending a text to 999.

Water safety warning ahead of bank holiday weekend

Firefighters are urging the public not to swim in lakes and reservoirs this weekend, with warm sunny days forecast for South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it attends dozens of water related incidents each year. Most are flooding or animal related, but others involve rescuing people from open water- particularly during hot weather.

Safety officers say people should avoid open water- like rivers and lakes- because they may not always be aware of the danger it poses. 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.

Area Manager Steve Helps, 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.”

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, 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

Press to test. Monthly is best

South Yorkshire fire officers are backing a national campaign to get more people to test their smoke alarms. 

The campaign, which will run from 12 March to 6 April 2018, will remind people that having working smoke alarms can save their life in the event of a fire in the home, and will encourage people to test their smoke alarms now and then regularly on a monthly basis. Messages will be promoted on the radio, online and on social media platforms.

As part of the national advertising campaign, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is encouraging people in South Yorkshire to test the smoke alarms in their home (and those vulnerable friends/relatives), and if not yet done, purchase and install smoke alarms at every level of the home.

Smoke alarms can give someone the few extra seconds they need to escape in a fire. While the majority of homes across the country now have an alarm fitted, most people are not aware that the average alarm has a lifespan of just ten years and then needs replacing.

A single smoke alarm may simply not be enough. The recommendation is at least one at every level, but to ensure you can hear them throughout your home, particularly when asleep.  Last year, in nearly half of all fires in the home where the smoke alarm did not give a warning the reason was that the alarm was not close enough to detect the fire.  Missing or flat batteries were another major cause.

Steve Helps, Head of Prevention and Protection said; “We know that smoke alarms saves lives. Analysis suggests you are at least eight times more likely to die in a fire in the home if you do not have any working smoke alarms”.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is asking people to make sure that their alarms are up to date and up to the job.

To keep your alarms in working order:

  • Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home;
  • Test your smoke alarms by pushing the button every month;
  • Check that your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old;
  • Fit smoke alarms on landings and hallways and near or in bedrooms.  Also consider in rooms which have electrical appliances – e.g. a heater or charger – or other fire risks;
  • Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident.
  • Replace your smoke alarms every ten years
  • Take a moment to check on your loved ones who may need help to test their smoke alarms to ensure they’re fully protected.

Steve Helps said; “For most of us, there is nothing more important than keeping our loved ones safe and secure. So if your alarm is getting past its best or your top floor is missing an alarm of its own, fit new ones, test them on the first of every month and protect your loved ones at all times”

“Press to test, monthly is best”