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.

Fire service launches Christmas number one bid with Everly Pregnant chip pan hit

South Yorkshire firefighters have joined forces with one of Sheffield’s best loved bands in a musical match up set to take the Christmas charts by storm.

Firefighters and 999 operators at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Central fire station have teamed up with The Everly Pregnant Brothers to release one of the group’s most popular hits- ‘Chip Pan’.

Bookmakers William Hill think the audacious tilt at the festive charts is more than just a flash in the pan- with odds of 50-1 better than those offered on multi-million selling artists Adele, Rihanna and Coldplay.

Good causes will also benefit from the assault on the yuletide top spot, with cash raised from sales of the single going to charities Shelter and Age UK.

Fire officers hope the tongue-in-cheek reworking of a popular chart hit will raise public awareness of one of their biggest house fire headaches- chip pan blazes caused by a night on the tiles drinking.

But they also want the track to remind people of the tens of thousands of firefighters who will be on duty this Christmas, whilst the rest of us our tucking into our turkeys.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “This record is clearly a bit of festive fun, but with chip pans still responsible for large numbers of house fires every year, we think there’s a safety message in there somewhere.

“We also want to remind people that tens of thousands of firefighters and 999 operators- not to mention many more of their colleagues in the emergency services- will be on duty this Christmas keeping people safe.

“It’s all for a good cause, with every penny the band makes going to support older and homeless people, which is very much part of the fire service’s ethos of helping the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Pete McKee, said: “It was an absolute honour to get the involvement of the fire brigade and red watch. We always thought it would be great to get the fire service involved with Chip Pan. It’s our public information advertisement for the late night reveller with a yearning for some end of night snap!”

Fellow band member 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 kick off their number one campaign with a gig at Sheffield’s O2 Academy this weekend- where they will be joined on stage by Central red watch firefighters, who starred in the video.

The band was formed in 2009 by renowned artist Pete McKee and ukulele player Richard Bailey. Their songs are soaked in Sheffield humour and mix the unmistakable sounds of ukuleles and beer barrels.

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.

Fire Kills campaign urges us all to test the smoke alarms in our homes now and every month

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR), as part of the Fire Kills Campaign, is urging people to test their smoke alarms after research showed that only 28% of all households who own one test them on a regular basis.

Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps of SYFR said: “You’re at least seven times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have any working smoke alarms.  However, only 28% of the people who own an alarm say they take the time to test it at least monthly.”

There were 229 fire-related deaths in the home last year. The Fire Kills campaign hopes that by encouraging everyone to test their smoke alarms more deaths could be prevented.

Steve Helps added, “I’d encourage people in South Yorkshire to make sure you test your smoke alarms today and get into the habit of testing them each month as they can save you and your family’s life.  In the event of a fire, working smoke alarms will give you the valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.”

The campaign is running for one month across outdoor, print, digital, social media and radio to raise awareness during the winter months when there is an increase in fire-related incidents and deaths.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe, SYFR offers these simple steps:

  • Test your smoke alarms now or when you get home
  • Make sure you fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly, even if they’re wired into the mains.
  • Whatever happens, never remove the batteries in your smoke alarms unless you are replacing them. Some require new batteries every year.
  • Plan and practise an escape route and make sure that everyone in your home knows it.
  • In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Test others smoke alarms who are unable to test their own

For more information visit www.gov.uk/firekills

Campaign to curb kitchen blazes kicks off

A major new campaign to curb kitchen blazes has been launched, as the fire service reveals it’s tackled nearly 1,000 cooking related incidents in the last three years.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it has attended 925 house fires caused by cooking since 2013, resulting in more than 200 injuries and two deaths.

Most of the blazes are caused by cooking that’s been left unattended, chip pans that overheat or dirty ovens that ignite due to a build up of fat and grease.

Factors contributing to the fires also include alcohol, drugs and mental health issues, including dementia.

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “The cooking fires we go to range from burnt toast to serious blazes which gut houses and destroy lives. But what all these incidents have in common is that they are nearly always entirely preventable.

“Whether it’s remembering to keep an eye on your cooking, giving your oven a good scrub or buying a takeaway after a night out, rather than attempting to cook, this campaign is all about asking residents to take some simple steps to protect themselves and those they love.”

The fire service has issued the following advice to cut kitchen fires:

  • Clean out ovens and grill pans regularly to avoid a build up of fat and grease
  • Ditch old fashioned chip pans, use oven chips or thermostat controlled fryers instead
  • Don’t attempt to cook if you’ve been out drinking, buy a takeaway instead

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

Smoke alarms missing in a third of fatal fires

Smoke alarms were missing in a third of fatal fires in Yorkshire, a new academic study has found.

It’s prompted a fresh plea from fire chiefs for people to fit the potentially life saving devices and to test them regularly.

The startling statistic is amongst several findings in what is thought to be the largest report into fatal fires in Yorkshire ever published

In the last five years, 133 people have died in house fires in Yorkshire and Humber.

Other findings in the report, led by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) with support from the three other Yorkshire and Humber fire and rescue services, include:

  • Early evening is the deadliest time of the day for fatal fires
  • Nearly a third (37) of all fire deaths were the result of arson
  • Smoking is Yorkshire’s biggest killer in accidental fires, causing nearly half (45%) of fatal blazes
  • Men are almost twice as likely to die in house fires as women
  • An accidental, fatal fire is more likely to start in the living room than any other room in the house

SYFR Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “It’s shocking that after decades of national and local advertising campaigns and fire services fitting hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in people’s homes for free, people are still dying in house fires in Yorkshire where smoke alarms were not present.

“Our message to the public could not be clearer- fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them regularly.”

Officers hope the research, compiled by forensic science student Victoria Moss, will help fire and rescue services to better understand the causes of fatal fires and ways to prevent them.

Victoria has been on a year long work placement with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, in a unique partnership with Nottingham Trent University, which offers one of the country’s most respected forensic science degrees.

The research is now expected to be extended nationally, with backing from the Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFOA).

“This study finally disproves popular public myths around house fires, including the idea that most fire deaths happen at night. In fact, this research has found that tea time is the deadliest time of the day.

“Findings like this are invaluable in helping us to better target the safety advice we give to members of the public. Fatal fires have dropped dramatically this century both in South Yorkshire and across the UK thanks to the work we are already doing to make local communities safer. But every single incident is someone’s death and someone’s personal tragedy.

“By working together and sharing knowledge and information with our neighbouring fire and rescue services, we hope to reduce the number of people who have to experience such loss even further,” said Martin.

Water safety plea ahead of school summer holidays

Firefighters are urging children not to swim in lakes and reservoirs ahead of the school summer holidays.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it has attended 282 water related incidents since 2012. Most were flooding or animal related, but 49 incidents involved rescuing people from open water. People died in three of those incidents.

Safety officers say children and young 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.

Head of community safety Trevor Bernard, said: “We regularly receive 999 calls in the summer about children and young 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

Fire service funded stop motion film helping to make high risk adults safer

A Doncaster community scheme has used fire service funding to create a stop-motion animation video to make the lives of vulnerable adults safer.

‘Breaking Beats’ partnered with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to deliver a safety campaign with residents of Quarryfields- a social housing scheme for people with learning difficulties in Balby, Doncaster.

The 18 week scheme allowed adults with learning difficulties to improve their knowledge fire safety through stop-motion animation. Service users created a video that highlighted fire prevention advice, and were involved in all aspects of the stop motion process, from set building and manipulation of characters to editing and narration.

Breaking Beats aims to work with disabled people by looking at developing important life skills such as confidence, teamwork and self-esteem, helping disabled people learn new skills and trying to give them a higher quality of life.

The scheme was awarded nearly £7500 under the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s funding scheme, Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This has been a fantastic project and exactly the sort of venture the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve is in place to support. It has allowed us to engage with and deliver a safety message to a group of people that we may not have been able to reach through our current channels. The participants in this scheme have thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have been offered a wealth of opportunities through a variety of activities. We are proud to be able to facilitate projects like these which have such a huge impact on our communities.”

The Stronger Safer Communities Reserve saw dozens of registered charities, community organisations and partner agencies come forward and apply for grants from the £2 million fund, which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves. Groups were able to bid for as little as £5,000 or as much as £150,000 to support projects which reduce injuries, save lives and make South Yorkshire safer.