South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Growth in electrical blazes revealed

A rise in electrical fires across South Yorkshire has been blamed on everything from phone chargers to e-cigs.

Fire officers say that whilst nearly every type of fire has reduced significantly during the last decade, thanks to safety visits and better awareness of risks, electrical incidents have stubbornly refused to drop.

Electricity is involved in about two thirds of all accidental house fires, with household appliances the most common culprits.

190 electrical fires

There were 190 house fires involving electricity in 2014/15, up from 165 the previous year and 150 in 2012/13. The kitchen is the most likely room in the house where electrical fires will start.

Sometimes fires are caused by faulty goods, which could be small items like mobile chargers, or big things like washing machines and dryers.

Fires are also caused by people misusing electrical appliances, for example by leaving them plugged in for too long or covering them up allowing them to overheat.

Fire officers are so worried about the problem, they have launched a safety video to try to educate people about the most common risks. The film has already been viewed more than 25,000 times on Facebook.

Head of community safety Kevin Ronan, said: “This isn’t about scaremongering but about making sure that consumers have all the available safety information. The vast majority of electrical goods are manufactured to very high safety standards, but sometimes if they are misused or if there is a fault with the device they can start a fire.

“The simple truth is that homes have more small electrical devices in them than probably any time in our history- from tablets and mobile phones, to e-cigarettes and games consoles. Unfortunately, we can’t get round everyone’s home to check the safety of their electrics for them. But by releasing this film, we hope we can give people the knowledge to check their own electrics and hopefully prevent a serious fire.”

The fire service has issued the following advice to stop fires:

  • Don’t buy cheap, unbranded chargers and make sure chargers are compatible to the device you are using
  • Don’t leave things to charge overnight or beyond the recommended charging time. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep electrical items away from flammable materials when charging
  • Don’t overload sockets– long, strip adaptors are safest, but can only take a total of 13 amps

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is also calling on electrical manufacturers to do more to make people aware when faulty products are recalled.

Millions of recalled electrical products still in people’s homes

The number of fires caused by faulty large kitchen goods like fridges, washing machines and tumble dryers has increased from 42 fires in 2012, to 56 in 2013 and 60 in 2014.

A man died in a house fire in Gawber, Barnsley in 2012 in a blaze caused by a faulty fridge.

Manufacturers are required by law to notify people if they know one of their products poses a fire risk and needs to be recalled. But millions of faulty products remain in people’s homes.

“The average success rate of a recall is only 10-20%, which means that there are potentially millions of dangerous electrical products in homes across the UK.

“For consumers, we know that returning a recalled product is not always convenient, especially if it’s an item that you use every day, but recall notices are issued to keep people safe. The small inconvenience of returning a recalled item is worth it when you consider that faulty products can electrocute or cause a fire,” said Kevin.

For more information about this campaign visit our 13orbust online safety checker.

Two new turntable ladders maintain South Yorkshire’s rich firefighting heritage

A century after Sheffield became the first fire service in the country to use a turntable ladder, the very latest vehicles to rescue people from height have come into service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) has two new turntable ladders, believed to be the best specification vehicles of their kind anywhere in the world.

The vehicles have been manufactured by German firm Metz XS and supplied to SYFR through the Rosenbauer Group in the UK.

After specifications were submitted by companies interested in providing the vehicles, extensive testing by a working group consisting of staff in various roles across the fire service took place.

The L32A model has superior accuracy and agility compared to the services current aerial ladder platform (ALP), deploying in 90 seconds it is also much faster in its operation. Its ladder can reach 32 metres and has the ability to work below the horizontal axis.

The vehicles cost a combined £1.2 million and arrived in South Yorkshire earlier this year and have been kitted out and used for training by firefighters before going on run at Doncaster and Parkway fire stations.

Turntable ladder

Area Manager Phil Shillito said: “Aerial appliances are important vehicles because they allow us to tackle fires from above and rescue people from height in a way we are not able to do with a traditional fire engine.

“These turntable ladders were chosen with the help of the people who will use them every day- frontline firefighters. The overwhelming feedback was that these appliances are the best specification vehicles currently on the market.”

Sheffield Fire Brigade- one of the four district brigades which went on to form South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 1984- became the first fire service in the country to use a turntable ladder in 1903.

The German built horse drawn vehicle was bought after Superintendent William Frost had first spotted it at a fire exhibition in Earls Court, London.

The appliance was converted to a motorised vehicle in 1921 at a cost of £1,200- more than £50,000 in today’s money- and was stationed at West Bar police and fire station, now home to the National Emergency Services Museum.

“We have a long history of using the very best resources to provide emergency cover to the people of South Yorkshire. These vehicles are testament to the fact that, in spite of the current challenging economic backdrop, we will continue to provide the very best firefighting resources to our frontline crews,” said Phil.

Students come up roses for fire station garden project

Students have been putting their landscape gardening skills to the test by updating a community garden as part of their Prince’s Trust project.

The students, from Outwood Academy have been re-planting the community garden at Adwick fire station. They have planned the layout of the garden with assistance from Doncaster Council staff, who also provided many of the materials. Paths and borders which have lain overgrown and unused have been re-instated, flowers have been planted and the grass has been cut to provide a wildlife haven.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) are supporting Outwood Academy through the Safer Stronger Communities Reserve fund to run an engagement course for young people in conjunction with the Prince’s Trust.

The programme runs one day a week throughout the school year, targeting 15 students at risk of under achievement or exclusion. Students gain qualifications in personal development and employability skills, with modules covering teamwork, presentation skills, community work and group planning.

The Prince’s Trust XL Club is a nationally recognised programme having helped over 70,000 young people since 1998.

Arson Intervention Officer Andy Kirwan said; “The group has been working at Adwick station since September and have recently chosen the garden as a project. The kids have worked really well, with the support and supervision of the Doncaster Council team”.

PC David High who runs the scheme said, “The project has had a positive and direct impact on the attainment and behaviour of the pupils involved with support from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, Doncaster council and the local SNT. Fire service staff have delivered sessions on the consequences of fire setting, road traffic collisions and engaged with young people from the area who may have previously been involved with anti social behaviour”.

Two new Sheffield fire stations open doors for first time

Two multi-million pound fire stations in Sheffield have opened and are responding to 999 calls for the first time.

The stations at Parkway and Birley Moor will allow South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to provide a better service to the community, particularly to the south-east Sheffield area.

Area Manager Phil Shillito, head of emergency response, said: “These two new fire stations are central to the provision of our service in south and east Sheffield. They are located in the optimum positions to enable us to respond quickly and effectively to emergency incidents.

“The stations at Darnall, Mansfield Road and Mosborough have been part of our communities for more than half a century, but their lives as working fire stations had come to an end and it’s time to turn to an exciting new chapter in the provision of our core, emergency response service.

“The facilities highlight, in spite of a challenging economic backdrop, our relentless commitment to providing the best possible fire cover to the people of Sheffield and beyond.”

With the opening of the new stations, Darnall, Mansfield Road and Mosborough stations have closed. Darnall fire station opened in 1956 and Mansfield Road in 1965. Mosborough transferred from Derbyshire to Sheffield Fire Brigade in 1967.

The new, full-time station at Birley Moor will cover a much greater area of South Yorkshire than the existing part-time station at Mosborough, right on the Derbyshire border, was able to. It will house one full time and one part time fire engine.

Darnall and Mansfield Road stations were built to address risks in Sheffield’s major industrial sites, including the city’s major steelworks. The new Parkway station will be better placed to protect new housing developments in the area, plus road traffic collisions on Sheffield Parkway and the nearby road infrastructure. It will house a full time fire engine and an aerial appliance.

Open water safety advice following lake rescue

Fire officers are asking the public to stay safe this summer by not risking their lives through swimming in open water.

Firefighters had to rescue two men on Friday evening after they had entered water at Lakeside, Doncaster.

Crews from Edlington, Doncaster, Rivelin and Aston Park stations responded to the incident at around 9.30pm, finding the pair clinging to a boat in the middle of the lake.

They used a fire service boat to rescue the men, who were both in their twenties, after they had entered the water to cool off in hot weather. They were both taken to hospital possibly suffering from the effects of hypothermia.

Over 400 people die in the water every year in the UK and as the summer continues and temperatures become warmer, it is essential to be aware of the dangers that rivers, lakes and reservoirs can present.

Places like rivers, lakes or flooded quarries are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.

River flows can be unpredictable and the water is often deeper, colder and faster than expected.

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

Firefighter success at Sheffield Academy

A firefighter has spent the past seven months working with pupils at a Sheffield academy to have a positive impact on their learning and behaviour.

Retired firefighter Ian Foster spends one day a week at Springs Academy helping teachers and providing a positive role model to pupils.

Ian recently retired as a firefighter and continues to work for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue on community and youth engagement. He was tasked with working with the youngsters at the school to help educate them about road safety and the dangers of arson in an informal and relaxed way.

Consisting of around eight pupils from years 9 and 10, their day is structured around practical activities and safety workshops. These include planning, constructing and marketing items which they make in school to sell, such as wooden bird nesting boxes and bird feeding tables, as well as discussion sessions around fire and road safety. They have also been involved in gardening and have planted a variety of different vegetables at their site.

The youngsters also take part in external activities, including visits to fire stations and the National Emergency Services Museum, as well as undertaking different team building exercises.

This School Liaison Officer role that Ian performs was devised by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as it drives down the amount of small, deliberate fires.

The fire service hopes more schools will now see the benefits of having a uniformed presence working with their pupils.

Ian Foster said: “We are fortunate that firefighters have a really positive image within the community and the impact of having that uniformed role model in school for just a few hours a week can be vast.

“Our work educating young people about fires and road safety has helped to reduce incidents massively over the last few years, but we’re pleased the academy can see the benefits of this project which go far beyond our traditional role.”

Michael Goldenburgh at Springs Academy said; “Ian, our School Liaison Officer, is great with our students, he attends on a regular basis and all the students now expect to see him every week. They look forward to his time with them in school and in particular the practical exercises and activities in the afternoon. He is an excellent role model for our students and most of them are benefiting from the skills and knowledge he delivers.”

Grass fire warning during hot weather

Fire crews are warning the public to take extra care during this week’s heat wave 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.

Fire service proves it’s got cutting edge skills

Firefighters have returned home victorious after picking up an award at an international road traffic collision contest held in Germany.

Battling 28 teams from 16 countries, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s crew showed off their skills while competing in The Extrication Challenge, walking away with the top prize in the ‘Best Medic’ category.

One team after another was challenged to respond to a unique 20 minute vehicle extrication scenario, meaning they had to rescue a trapped and injured casualty from a car crash as quickly and safely as possible.

“There was a casualty in the vehicle, who was actually a doctor and an assessor of the event,” said team leader and incident commander Chris Tyler.

“He was even wearing an earpiece so he could assess everything that our medic and the rest of the team were doing. There’s also a trauma doctor assessing you outside of the vehicle along with two other external assessors.

“We quickly performed a survey of the scene and the firefighter tasked as the medic in our team will advise us what he wants to happen because of the casualty’s condition.

“In this instance the casualty had neck and pelvis injuries, so we needed to get the casualty out safely while keeping them straight.

“Of course it’s nice to get recognition for our skills but the main focus of these events is to study what new information is available to develop better and safer procedures.

“We’re able to learn directly from industry leading experts and manufacturers, which means we can understand the potential hazards as well as the latest techniques to help anybody unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic collision.

“This improves the safety for our own firefighters at incidents like these but ultimately means we are better equipped to provide a swift and effective service to the public of South Yorkshire.”

The team will now go on to represent South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue at a similar national event, competing against 45 fire and rescue services from across the United Kingdom, on Friday 31.

Warning for smokers after house blaze death inquest

Fire officers are again warning of the dangers of smoking in bed, following the death of a man in a Sheffield house fire.

They are also asking their partners in the health, housing and social care sectors to do more to help them identify those who are most at risk of fire, so that they can put extra measures in place to help prevent fatal fires.
Alec Connington, aged 54, died after a fire at his top floor flat on Manor Park Road, Sheffield.

A neighbour had raised the alarm after hearing smoke alarms in the property sounding at around 10pm on 17 February this year.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus searched the property and put out the fire. They discovered the body of Mr Connington in the bedroom of the flat.

Mr Connington had received treatment for substance misuse for several years and was a heavy smoker. Fire investigators found more than 200 cigarette ends close to his bed, an inquest heard.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, deputy coroner Julian Fox said: “Mr Connington’s death is a further reminder that the dangers of smoking in bed can be very great and can easily lead to fatal fires.”

Station Manager Simon Rodgers, who investigated the cause of the fire, said: “No one deserves to die in these circumstances and ultimately any house fire death is preventable, regardless of any other factors which may have contributed to that person’s death. We want to use this case to call on our partners to do more to help us to identify those who are most at risk of fire, so that we can put useful measures in place to try to prevent this kind of tragic incident.”

Safety advice from preventing fires caused by cigarettes includes:

• Put out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully
• Never buy cheap, imported cigarettes- these don’t meet modern EU guidelines designed to prevent fires
• Never smoke in bed- you can easily fall asleep, starting a fire

Fire service safety advice ahead of Islamic festival

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 begins on 18 June.

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 Kevin Ronan, 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.