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Top Sheffield firefighter and rope expert made UK rescue assessor

A Sheffield firefighter who is one of the country’s leading rope rescue experts has landed a major role with a top UK training charity.

Jim Lister, aged 46, has been caving in the limestone hills of the Peak District for more than 30 years, as well as saving lives as a rope rescue instructor with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and working as a volunteer for the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation.

Now Jim, from Gleadless, has been made an assessor with the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO), a charitable organisation committed to improving rescue standards throughout the UK.

Jim’s role will see him assessing training challenges and competitions, which are used to teach fire and rescue teams the most effective ways of rescuing people from dangerous situations.

Jim, who is currently based at Parkway fire station, said: “Caving has been a lifelong passion of mine both as a hobby and a career. My cave rescue expertise with Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation has given me an enormous number of skills which I am able to transfer to my day job with the fire service.

“Specifically, my rope rescue skills can be used in a wide variety of rescue situations from building collapses and underground rescues, to road traffic collisions, where perhaps a vehicle has gone over the edge of an embankment and people are trapped inside.

“Rope rescue skills can take years to master though, so by working with UKRO I am pleased to have now been given the opportunity to pass on my learning to people and rescue teams beyond my brilliant colleagues at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

For more information on the UK Rescue Organisation visit

Successful fire service scheme refers 50 people for sight loss support

The fire service has referred more than 50 people for life changing eyesight support under a successful partnership with charities for the blind.

The referrals have been made thanks to ‘Optimeyes’- a two year partnership between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The scheme has trained dozens of fire service staff in delivering a simple, five minute sight screening tool to assess sight problems. The assessment is now built into the fire service’s established programme of home safety visits.

More than 7,000 people have been given sight loss information by the fire service in South Yorkshire and offered a specially developed screening tool if required, with at least 55 people referred to local charity Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) for further interventions.

One of those helped by the scheme was a Sheffield woman who was referred for support after suffering a blaze in her home.

Dawn Caney, aged 60, was referred for specialist sight loss support after fire service staff noticed cataracts may have contributed to the incident.

Dawn has now spoken to a hospital consultant about undergoing surgery on her cataracts, is visited by a physiotherapist to help her walking and referred to a care agency who help her with day-to-day tasks.

Dawn said: “I noticed that my eyes were getting bad about three years ago when things started to look blurred and I got a lot of headaches. I used to go out to the local shops every day but it got too difficult for me to manage the steps down from my first floor flat, I just couldn’t see the rubbish. I was frightened of slipping, so I stopped going out, except to the rubbish chute. I was also frightened because I didn’t know why I couldn’t see clearly anymore. I thought it was because I smoked and that was what was causing everything to be blurred. Now I know it’s also because I have got cataracts so that’s a bit of a relief in some ways.

“I had an incident at my flat and the fire service came out. They sent a home safety officer out to visit me after that to check that my flat was well protected with smoke alarms and that I knew how to avoid the risks of having another incident. The home safety officer noticed that I couldn’t see clearly and referred me to Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind who I had heard of, but didn’t know how to get in touch with. I also didn’t know that they helped people like me who weren’t totally blind.

“Since then my life has changed a lot, all for the better. A Community Advice Officer from SRSB came to my flat and has arranged appointments and support for me. I’ve been able to tell her all my problems and she always listens and asks me what I want and what I prefer. She gives me time to think about things first so I don’t feel pressured into making decisions. It feels like I have some say in my life again.

“My support worker is helping me to trust people again and I now get out of my flat at least once a week. I would say there have been lots of positive changes in my life since February thanks to being referred to SRSB by the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

Although the two year Optimeyes project has come to an end, fire staff will continue to refer people with sight loss issues to Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind providing a lasting benefit for local people.

SYFR Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This is all about making every contact we have with local people count. We believe the fire service can play a much wider role in terms of tackling some of the big health challenges our country faces in the future. This scheme is the perfect illustration of that aspiration, where the fire service’s contact with some of the most vulnerable people in society is being used to do more than just prevent house fires.”

For more information on sight loss visit or for tips on preventing fires visit

Hotelier given eight month jail sentence for breach of fire safety laws

The former owner of a Sheffield hotel has been jailed for eight months after breaching fire safety laws.

Amandeep Sandhu, of Turlands Close, Coventry was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday (8 May) after pleading guilty to five charges contrary to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The case was brought following a fire safety inspection of the Cutlers Hotel, George Street, Sheffield by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) on 12 September 2014 when breaches of the Order were discovered.

Due to the lack of a working fire alarm, a Prohibition Notice was served and the 45-room hotel was closed to guests. During a second inspection three days later further fire safety law breaches were discovered.

Charges brought against Mr Sandhu included:

  • A failure to have a suitable fire risk assessment.
  • A failure to ensure the premises was equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms
  • A failure to provide adequate emergency lighting
  • A failure to provide adequate training to staff

Mr Sandhu was sentenced to eight months in prison for each of the breaches, with the sentences to be served concurrently.

Steve Helps, Head of Prevention & Protection, said: “We always try to work positively with businesses to comply with fire safety regulation, but this case is a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to comply with those laws. Had a fire broken out in these premises then there can be little doubt that lives would have been lost. The sentence handed down by the judge should serve as a warning to any business of how seriously breaches of fire safety law are taken.”

A spokesperson from the hotel’s current owners, Saxon Hotels, said: “The Cutlers hotel was purchased from the administrators in January 2015 by Saxon Hotels. We would like to point out that Saxon Hotels has no connection at all to the previous owner. Saxon Hotels takes guest safety seriously and after purchase we undertook an extensive refurbishment and upgrading of the historic city centre hotel which included all aspects of fire and safety systems. We received full approval from the fire services and all other regulatory authorities in order to operate the renovated hotel and we re-opened in September 2015. We are proud to have restored this historic city centre hotel to its former glory and to be welcoming guests from across the world to stay with us and enjoy the city of Sheffield.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. A responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.

SYFR works closely with businesses to ensure they comply with the regulations and inspectors are available to offer practical advice and assistance in this area.

For more information on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and keeping premises safe from fire visit the Business Safety section of our website.

Fire service picks up LGBT employer gong at South Yorkshire awards

The fire service has picked up an award recognising its contribution in supporting LGBT+ issues in South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was named ‘employer of the year’ at the inaugural South Yorkshire LGBT+ Awards in Sheffield.

The award recognised a company or employer which provides an environment that’s supportive and inclusive of all members of its workforce and takes specific measures and actions to ensure staff are working within an equality and diversity focused environment.

The fire service beat off competition from 17 other employers to win the award, which was voted for by the public.

As well as providing a supportive environment for its workforce, the fire service also supports local LGBT+ pride events, including Sheffield Pride, Pride of Rotherham and Sheffield Pinknic.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “This is a real honour and whilst we will always aspire to do more in this area, the award reflects the progress fire services like ours are making towards LGBT equality, which means we are better placed to respond to the issues faced by our employees and the LGBT community. Firefighters, support staff and volunteers come from all walks of life. For LGBT employees, knowing that the organisation and colleagues will support them to be themselves means they can focus on their job which is to make people safer.”

Alison Dyson, who volunteers in the community safety team and attended the event, said: “I am very pleased that the fire service got the award for several reasons. Members of the public voted for us as an employer, which suggests we are doing something right. I feel comfortable here and just one of the team. There can always be room for improvement in any organisation, but from my point of view I think we are heading in the right direction in supporting all of South Yorkshire’s communities.“

Firefighters showcase skills at Stocksbridge Reservoir

Firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue teamed up with Yorkshire Water to highlight the importance of water safety whilst showcasing their water rescue skills.

To support Drowning Prevention Week, the specialist water rescue team from Aston Park attended Underbank Reservoir last week. Crowds gathered at the open water sports centre to watch the firefighters demonstrate a general boat rescue as well as various techniques such as floating walkways and line bagging.

The purpose of this demonstration was to highlight the dangers associated with open water, especially as Summer approaches.

Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue works closely with communities to educate them of the dangers surrounding open waters – a key part of their prevention work.

Area Manager Steve Helps, Head of Prevention and Protection at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue 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.”

Darren Lynch, Regional Raw Water Manager at Yorkshire Water said, “Reservoirs may look tempting to take a swim in but they can be killers and today’s practice rescue will hopefully raise awareness of these risks amongst young people. Cold water shock can lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and heart attacks plus water temperatures remain just as cold in summer as in winter.”

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

Firefighters’ Everly Pregnant single raises thousands for charity

A chart topping bid by firefighters has raised thousands of pounds for two local causes.

Central red watch and 999 operators at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue were part of a daring drive to reach the top of the Christmas charts with ‘Chip Pan’ by the Everly Pregnant Brothers.

Thousands of people bought the track and after a delay whilst official download figures were collated, the band has revealed that the track has raised £4,311, which will be split between Shelter and Age UK Sheffield.

Although the track didn’t reach the festive song summit, it helped raise awareness of kitchen fire safety amongst millions of people.

Highlights of the assault on the yuletide music chart included two national television appearances and more than five million views online for a video which accompanies the song. Leaders, businesses and celebrities from across Sheffield also threw in their support for the campaign.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Both our staff and the South Yorkshire public really got behind this campaign. Although it was just a bit of fun, albeit with a serious safety message at its heart, it’s fantastic that the song will have a lasting impact on local people having raised such a lot of money for two great causes, both of which are closely linked to our work supporting the most vulnerable people in society.”

Bluebell Smith, community fundraising manager of Age UK Sheffield said; “We’re so grateful to the Everly Pregnant Brothers and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for raising over £2,000 for Age UK Sheffield. With the single being realised just before Christmas, it really raised awareness about the support we offer during a time that can be exceptionally difficult for older people, particularly those who are lonely or isolated. Everyone across the organisation loved getting involved, and even our customers at the Wellbeing Centre were singing the song and wearing a ‘Me Chip Pans On Fire’ T-Shirt!”

Everly Pregnant Brothers’ band member Klive Humberstone said; “It’s a privilege being in a position to help raise money for two great charities, the fact we had a reyt laugh in the process was an added bonus. We doff our hats to the gang at Red Watch for being great sports and being just as daft as us.”

Chris Taylor, Sheffield team leader at Shelter said; “We are really grateful to the Everly Pregnant Brothers for donating half of the proceeds from Chip Pan to our services in Sheffield, and thankful also to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for publicising the track. The donation will help us make a tangible difference to Sheffield people who are in real need of support and advice with their housing problems.”

Team programme success as young people turn their lives around

A number of young people are now in work or education thanks to the success of the emergency services run Prince’s Trust Programme.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP) teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Prince’s Trust Team Programme two years ago. During that time around 75 young people have benefited from the 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.

Individuals gained new skills, mixed with new people and made new friends, they were given help with job-hunting and CV writing and most importantly a big boost to their confidence and a real sense of achievement.

Past participants are now championing the programme, with their new lives and careers ahead of them these young people are encouraging others to take their first step and to sign up for this life changing experience.

Lee Niven, a member of our first Team Programme in Barnsley, managed to secure an apprenticeship with Network Rail while on the course, which has now led to full time employment as part of the Network Rail’s emergency response team and is gaining valuable qualifications which will secure his future.

Lee Niven said; “Without the support of the team leaders, the Prince’s Trust and the Fire and Police service I would not have had the confidence to go for this role. I would recommend this programme to everybody who needs a step up in life.”

Tara Nortcliffe was part of Team 3 at Barnsley she said; “After a successful work placement through the programme at a care home I was really pleased when they offered me a full time job.  This is the field that I have always wanted to work in.

“I have had a difficult few years but being on the Prince’s Trust programme helped me overcome all the barriers that I had faced and now look forward to the future.”

Emma Salt was a member of Team 3 at Barnsley and at the end of the course was able to secure a job at Barnsley Football club on match days and also works in the restaurant there.

Emma said; “I really enjoyed the Prince’s Trust programme, I made loads of new friends and my confidence has just grown.  I want to help others get the same experience as me which is why I have now volunteered with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police to help run the Team Programme.”

We are now recruiting for the next Team Programme’s based in Dearne and Barnsley, to be part of it and to take that first step contact John Daley on 07769 887249 or

More details can be found on the South Yorkshire Police website here

Follow updates on Twitter at #PrincesTrust

Youtube video:

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Prince’s Trust Team graduates with emergency services honours

Fifteen young people have successfully graduated from the Prince’s Trust Team Programme having completed a challenging 12 week programme.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and South Yorkshire Police (SYP) teamed up with the Prince’s Trust 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, transforming the area around Manvers Lake as part of their community project and learning new skills in individual work placements.

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

SYP Assistant Team Leader Sarah Hague 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 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.”

Would you like to be part of the next Team Programme?  We are now recruiting for members in Rotherham and Barnsley, to be part of the Team or for further details contact John Daley on 07769 887249 or

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.