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Fire service backs national safety week with stark water warning

The fire service has revealed it has attended dozens of water rescues in the last five years, as it uses a national campaign week to remind the public of the dangers of swimming in open water.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is supporting Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week (25 April to 1 May) by asking people to avoid open water- like rivers and lakes- because they may not always be aware of the danger they pose.

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, officers warn.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have attended 85 water rescue incidents over the last five years, resulting in five people dying.

Firefighters will be visiting water beauty spots during the week to offer safety advice to local people. Safety officers will be at Rother Valley Country Park in Sheffield on Wednesday (27 April) and at Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham on Friday (29 April), both between 10am and 3pm.

Head of Prevention & Protection 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, pollutants and bacteria
• 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

Mum issues water safety warning following tragic death of son

The mum of a teenager who drowned swimming in a quarry has delivered an emotional presentation to college students on the horror of losing her son.

Beckie Ramsay has visited Doncaster College to talk to youngsters aged 16 – 25 abo2016-04-13 10 14 58 (3)ut her son Dylan who died in 2011 at a quarry in Whittle-le-Woods, in Chorley, Lancashire, aged just 13.

Dylan was swimming in a quarry and had been in the water about twenty minutes before getting into difficulties. He was pulled from the water and given CPR but was unable to be resuscitated.

Ever since, Beckie has worked tirelessly to promote water safety and has launched a campaign in his memory ‘Doing it for Dylan’.

Doing it for Dylan was set up to get water safety messages to children, students and adults to raise the awareness around the dangers of swimming in open water.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) is now planning to take water safety into schools this summer to teach youngsters about the unseen dangers in water.

Beckie said: “I want children to realise just because the sun is hot outside, the wat2016-04-13 10 40 29blacker isn’t. Open water is stronger, deeper, colder and more dangerous than you think. It’s not worth the risk to your life and putting your family through the pain that I have been through.”

SYFR Community Safety Officer Gary Willoughby said; “We regularly receive 999 calls in the summer about people getting into difficulty in water. 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. Remember NO lifeguard means NO swimming”.

You can download a Water Safety Booklet here

To find out more about Doing It For Dylan go to, or follow @missmybabyboy on Twitter.

Landlords’ smoke alarms reminder six months after safety law came into force

South Yorkshire landlords are being urged to comply with new fire safety laws– six months after legislation requiring all privately rented homes to be fitted with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors came into force.

Since October last year, private landlords have been required to fit smoke alarms on each floor of their rental properties and install carbon monoxide alarms in rooms containing solid fuel burners – such as cookers and heaters – or face a £5,000 fine.

Fire officers say whilst most landlords in South Yorkshire are complying with the safety laws, there remains confusion amongst both landlords and tenants about their responsibilities under the new law.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “The private rented sector provides homes for some of the county’s most vulnerable groups and there is no doubt that these regulations will make privately rented accommodation safer and save lives.

“We want to help South Yorkshire’s private landlords meet their fire safety responsibilities under this new law and would urge them to take the time to understand the legislation and fit detectors where required.

“Tenants can also play a part in taking responsibility for their own safety by reminding their landlords about the new legislation if there are no smoke or carbon monoxide alarms in their home.”

Your landlord must:

  • Follow safety regulations
  • Provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with a usable fireplace or woodburner
  • Check you have access to escape routes at all times
  • Make sure the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe
  • Provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

For more information visit

Prince’s Trust Team graduates with fire service honours

Ten youngsters have successfully graduated from the Prince’s Trust Team Programme having completed a challenging 12 week programme.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) teamed up with the Prince’s Trust and Barnsley College to deliver the Prince’s Trust Team Programme. Team is a 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

The young people have all been thrown out of their comfort zone during the last few weeks, participating in a week-long residential in the Peak District, designing a sensory garden for Greenacre School, worked in the community with various groups as well as learning new skills in individual work placements.

The graduation which was held at Barnsley Town Hall was a great celebration of all their hard work and efforts. It was attended by their friends and family as well as local dignitaries.

SYFR Team Programme Leader John Daley said; “I am really proud of the whole group, throughout the Team Programme the young people have experienced a sense of achievement which has inspired them to move forward with new confidence and ambition. We wish them all the luck for their future.”

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “The last 12 weeks have been about building the confidence of these young people and equipping them with the skills qualifications and experience to find employment and build better lives for themselves. From classes in CV building to laboratory visits and work placements we have been able to offer participants crucial skills and insights they otherwise may never have experienced. I am truly proud of the role the fire service has played in helping these young people aspire to a better future.”

Jack Darton, member of the Team Programme said; “This course has enabled me to make loads of new friends and learn new skills which I will be able to use in my life and help me with getting a job. I owe a lot to the Team Programme and would like to thank South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and the Prince’s Trust for giving me this opportunity.”

Midwives to provide fire safety to mums-to-be

Thousands of mums-to-be will be educated about home safety thanks to bespoke fire service funded room thermometers.

Following a recent successful trial of the thermometers in the Barnsley area, maternity units across South Yorkshire will now hand out the thermometers to expectant parents.

As well as telling parents when their baby’s room is at the correct temperature, the specially designed thermometers will also display important messages about topics including home fire safety and smoke free homes.

There will also be a focus on referring people to Stop Smoking Maternity service, whereby specialist midwives give practical advice and support to families who smoke. As well as greatly increasing the risk of house fires, smoking in pregnancy is known to increase the risk of miscarriage, still and premature birth and other complications.

The project has been awarded just over £23,500 under South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s funding scheme, the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

The fund 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. Key objectives for the fund include prioritising the most vulnerable, collaboration and data sharing.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue high risk co-ordinator, Sarah Broadbent, said: “We already have a strong relationship with the midwives at Barnsley Hospital, including a successful referral scheme ensuring the most vulnerable families in the borough are referred for our home safety check service.

“This latest project will see important fire safety messages delivered to thousands of families in South Yorkshire, at a busy time in their lives when basic home safety issues could easily be forgotten.”

Joanne Poskitt, Specialist Midwife in Drug and Alcohol Use at Barnsley Hospital, said: “We work closely with the fire service already as it is well documented that there are links between a smoking home and sudden infant death or meningitis.

“The thermometers are a practical and simple tool which will help parents provide a safe sleeping environment for baby, information on creating a smoke free home and offer the opportunity for a free home safety check. We have already been handing out the thermometers in Barnsley and will now be extended to the whole of South Yorkshire.”

Children’s author backing for fire service writing challenge

An award-winning local children’s author has been named head judge in a fire service led creative writing challenge.

Barnsley born Caryl Hart, now living in Bakewell, Derbyshire has volunteered to judge the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue competition, which calls on youngsters to send in their best piece of creative writing.

The fire service hopes the competition will inspire dozens of local youngsters to think about fire safety, whilst putting their literacy and creative skills to the test.

A LEGO City fire station will be awarded to the winner, as chosen by Caryl, author of popular children’s books including Don’t Dip Your Chips, Welcome to Alien School and Supermarket Zoo. Five runners up will also win a signed copy of one of Caryl’s books.

Education advocate Julie Claytor, said: “Children are an important audience for us, particularly as they are often the best advocates for fire safety at home. We know from school visits and other education work that they often pass on vital fire safety messages to their families and we hope this competition will be another opportunity for us to spread that learning.”

Caryl said: “I know there are lots of brilliant young writers in South Yorkshire – I’ve met a lot of you. So get out your pens, pencils, computers, phones and tablets and get writing. I can’t wait to read your stories!”

The contest is open to all primary school aged children in South Yorkshire. The theme is ‘a day in the life of a firefighter’ and the stories should aim to include at least one fire safety message.

Children can submit an entry by post to Writing Competition, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, 197 Eyre Street, Sheffield, S1 3FG or by emailing with ‘Writing Competition’ in the subject box, before the closing date of 13 May 2016.

Full terms and conditions can be found by visiting

Safer Stronger Communities Reserve fund

In February, the Fire & Rescue Authority committed a further £2 million from its reserves to support community based projects to improve safety and wellbeing for local people.

Please note: Enquiries about this funding are not currently being taken, as the Authority is now establishing how this money will be allocated.

Further updates on this will be published on both the fire authority and this website in due course.

Fire Service funding helps youth club project reduce anti-social behaviour

A partnership youth project is helping to turn around anti-social behaviour in the South East of Sheffield

The Dark Nights project works with partners including Salvation Army, South Yorkshire Police, Activity Sheffield and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to deliver an eight week youth club project for young people in the area.

The scheme was awarded nearly £5900 under the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s funding scheme, Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

The project runs from January to March, when the number of alternative, positive activities available to youngsters in the area is normally at its lowest. Young people meet once a week to take part in activities, including tours of the fire training and development centre, as well as educational sessions around first aid, road safety, fire investigation, social media awareness and the consequences of anti-social behaviour.

Andrew Watson at Salvation Army said; “We are thankful to South Yorkshire Fire Authority’s funding which has enabled the project to proceed. It continues to be popular with young people and provides a great approach to preventing future anti social behaviour as well as making young people more responsible for their safety and the community they live in.”

SYFR Station Manager Matt Gillatt said: “Engaging with young people in this way is one of the best ways of building lasting, positive relationships which have long term benefits for the communities we serve. It’s only by working together that public agencies can put together initiatives like this one and we are grateful to all the partners involved in helping us deliver these youth clubs.”

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.

Fire service team up with hospital for sleep safe campaign

Barnsley Hospital and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have teamed up to provide information and advice to new parents and parents-to-be.

Barnsley Hospital’s Maternity Services Team have been working with Community Safety Officers from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to develop the Barnsley Babies Initiative. The initiative aims to raise awareness of how parents can ensure that babies are sleeping in a safe environment. The initiative was launched in line with the Lullaby Trust’s national Sleep Safe campaign.

The Sleep Safe campaign promotes the importance of safe sleeping for the whole family including advice and guidance on how to significantly lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While SIDS is rare, there are essential things that parents can do, or avoid doing, to lower the chances of SIDS.

Barnsley Maternity Services team have undergone training with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to learn about fire safety and how parents can ensure that their child is kept safe whilst sleeping. The Barnsley Babies initiative promotes messages including; the importance of a smoke free home and car, the best sleeping position and environment for babies and temperature control.

During the week commencing 14th March Barnsley Hospital will be supporting the national Safer Sleep Week. Maternity staff will be available in the Women’s Services Foyer between 9-4pm in to offer advice and information to parents, visitors and members of staff.

From Monday 14 March Barnsley midwives will provide all pregnant women with a Sleepsafe bag which includes a room thermometer which has advice about safe temperatures printed on it, a scan frame to display prenatal scans and a document file for parents to keep important health information about their baby in. The bag also has essential information and maternity contact details printed on it.

Joanne Poskitt, Specialist Midwife at Barnsley Hospital said: “We have been working with the Fire Service for a while now and we are extremely proud of the Barnsley Babies initiative, we have had some fantastic feedback from our mums. We are excited to launch the Sleepsafe bags for new parents and initial feedback has been positive. We encourage anyone who has any questions or needs advice on safe sleeping to come along to the Women’s Services main entrance during the week commencing 14 March and speak to a maternity staff member.”

For more information about the national Sleep Safe campaign, please visit the Lullaby Trust website at

Safety plea after Doncaster house fire death inquest

An inquest took place today (14 March) into the death of a man following a house fire in Doncaster.

Ian Jennings, aged 61, died following the blaze at the house in Pinfold Close, Tickill on 17 October last year.

The fire is thought to have been caused by smoking materials. Investigators found no evidence of working smoke alarms inside the property.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Speaking after the inquest, fire investigation officer Graham Toms, said:

“This was a severe house fire which tragically resulted in Mr Jennings losing his life and our thoughts are with his family what remains a very sad time. The incident is also another, terrible reminder of the dangers associated with smoking in bed.

“We found no evidence of working smoke alarms in the property. Whilst we will never know whether smoke alarms would have made a difference at this incident, smoke alarms do you vital extra seconds to escape by giving you an early warning of a fire in your home. Please, please make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home and to test them regularly.”