South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Safety advice after Wake Road inquest verdict

The fire service has repeated safety warnings, after an inquest into the deaths of five people in a house fire in Sheffield concluded.

The tragedy on Wake Road, Sheffield killed three generations of the same family in April 2014.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Chris Dorries described the fire as “a tragedy of unimaginable proportion” and said the cause of the fire was “undetermined.”

Evidence was heard from forensic experts about electrical items which were found close to where the fire started. These included a mobile phone, phone charger and baby monitor charging cradle, but the coroner said none of these could be said to have caused the fire.

Smoke alarms were fitted in the property and operated that night, but the family initially believed it to be a false alarm.

The fire spread quickly and was described by firefighters as being particularly ferocious. This was aided by doors within the house remaining open, which helped the fire to spread, the inquest heard.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s head of community safety Kevin Ronan, said: “This was the most serious house fire in terms of loss of life that our crews have attended for many years. Our thoughts remain with the loved ones of those who died at what must be a time of enormous sorrow.

“Fires as serious as this are fortunately very rare, but when they do happen they affect our service personnel and the wider community very deeply.

“We’d remind people that whilst smoke alarms have the potential to save lives in house fires, they will only do so if people take the appropriate action when the alarm sounds- to get out, stay out and call 999.

“One of our main safety messages during talks and safety visits is to shut internal doors at night to stop the spread of a fire in the event one does occur. Unfortunately it does not appear that this happened at this incident, meaning the blaze spread incredibly quickly.”

Firefighters were praised during proceedings for their exceptional bravery, with Mr Dorries commending the first crew in attendance to the Chief Fire Officer for recognition.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus walked up a burning staircase in temperatures of more than 1000 degrees celcius to search for casualties, the inquest heard.

“We echo the words of the coroner who commended the actions of the first crew in attendance. The inquest was told that this was the most ferocious domestic fire firefighters with more than 25 years experience had ever attended, and it is right that their actions have been recognised”, said Kevin.

One of those who died, 53-year-old Shabina Begum, has also been nominated for a posthumous Royal Humane Society award in recognition of her bravery in attempting to rescue her grandchildren from the fire.

Top 10 tips for preventing fires

Sizzle safely say firefighters ahead of BBQ 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.

Kevin Ronan, 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.

Yellow wind warning prompts safety tips

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind across South Yorkshire, and many other parts of the country, later on Monday and overnight into Tuesday.

We’re asking the public, and especially drivers, to take some precautions to stay safe, as some gusts are expected to reach more than 60 miles per hour.

Driving tips during windy weather

  • Check local traffic reports to see if the route is clear before you make your journey, and avoid traveling during the worst of the weather if you can
  • Take extra care when driving while it’s still dark in areas that you know have flooded or been affected by severe weather on previous occasions, and please don’t ignore diversion and road closure signs
  • Be alert to the danger posed by debris, including branches and slates, that may have blown into the roadway.
  • Remember, wind rarely blows steadily, and a sudden gust can catch out even the most experienced driver
  • High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather, but strong gusts can also blow a car, cyclist or motorcyclist off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges or gaps in hedges
  • In very windy weather your vehicle may be affected by turbulence created by large vehicles. Motorcyclists are particularly affected, so keep well back from them when they are overtaking a high-sided vehicle

Water safety warning ahead of bank holiday

Firefighters are urging people to stay safe near open water ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

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.

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.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue head of community safety Kevin Ronan, said: “It shouldn’t take tragedy to bring the issue of water safety to public attention, but recent cases from elsewhere in the country of people drowning in open water are another reminder of the dangers rivers, lakes and reservoirs can present.

“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 hot weather, but stick to a swimming pool. Hundreds of people drown each year in the UK and places like rivers, lakes or flooded quarries places are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.”

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
  • 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