Thousands of people in Barnsley will be safer from fire, thanks to a new arrangement between the council and fire service.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Barnsley Council have signed an agreement which means the addresses of around 4,000 properties which receive assisted bin collections will be passed onto the fire service so that specialist staff can offer free smoke alarms and advice on stopping blazes to residents.
The council offers assisted bin collections to people with a disability or medical condition which prevents them from putting their bins out on their own. With known links between people receiving assisted collections and risk of fire, the agreement has been put in place so the fire service can contact people living at those addresses to offer them help.
Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This is a brilliant example of where data protection laws- which are rightly in place to protect people’s information- should not get in the way of public bodies working together, in the public interest, to make people safer. By having the right safeguards and privacy protocols in place, we’ve shown that a common sense approach can cut duplication of effort and potentially save people’s lives.
“So many of the people who needlessly die in house fires are known to another agency whether that’s a local authority, social housing provider or health partner. So our aspiration is that, where appropriate, we can develop further data sharing agreements like this with other public services in the future under the legislation available to us.”
Cllr Alan Gardiner, Cabinet Spokesperson for Core Services at Barnsley Council, said: “It’s great that we can partner with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to use our data to benefit our communities. Many residents who get an assisted waste collection have a disability or medical condition, so we’re pleased to be able to work with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to provide people with even more support to keep them safe.”
Between 2011 and 2017, 53 people died in house fires in South Yorkshire. Many of those who died (61%) were older people aged 50 or over, with fire service investigations finding that issues such as hoarding, drugs, alcohol and mental health problems frequently contributing to the fires starting. Half of those who died lived on their own.
The fire service says the best way for partners to help is to sign-up to become a ‘Safe and Well’ partner. This is a scheme which aims to improve how the fire service and local organisations work together to effectively identify and reduce hazards for people most at risk.
Common measures to protect those most at risk include fitting smoke alarms, providing flame retardant bedding and installing misting systems to suppress fires.
For more information about the scheme and to ask about your organisation signing up to become a partner, click here