South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Fire cadets spread joy over the festive period

Kind hearted fire cadets have been showered with praise after delivering Christmas gifts to care home residents across Barnsley.

The young people, who are based out of Cudworth and Dearne fire stations, funded the gifts with £600 they raised through donations and the sale of handmade Christmas cards.

They delivered around 200 presents in total to residents at four different care homes within the Barnsley district, dancing and singing along the way.

Then, with their first act of kindness done, they handed the remaining gifts out to members of their local community who were facing a lonely and isolated festive period.

Once they’d delivered the gifts they also took the time to talk to the residents and get them involved in a little sing-song – all in a COVID-secure way.

Some of the people they visited laughed, some even shed tears of joy. Others just smiled, said thank you and expressed their gratitude.

However they reacted, all of them were extremely touched by the gesture. That’s according to Watch Manager Fleur Holland, who has worked with the fire cadets on their project.

“I’m so proud of them all for what they have done – to raise £600 was one thing but to then buy and deliver around 200 gifts was an amazing gesture. Thinking about it still makes me emotional,” she added.

“The pandemic has limited what we can do but we refused to be beaten. It’s never been more important to share some Christmas joy and we’re glad, thanks to everyone who supported us, including our Chief Fire Officer, we’ve been able to do that.”

Courtney and Phoebe, from Cudworth, and Charlotte, Paige, Nicole and Lewis, from Dearne, are all part of the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Fire Cadets scheme.

The programme is run at stations across South Yorkshire for people aged between 13 and 18-years-old – it’s designed to build confidence and self-esteem, as well as practical skills.

Their latest effort, to raise the £600 for Christmas gifts, is the second fundraiser they’ve done this year. In May they raised £700 for The Fire Fighters Charity.

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Prohibition Notice lifted on Wicker Riverside

The Prohibition Notice on Wicker Riverside Apartments has today been lifted, following the installation of a new alarm system.

All residents are now allowed back into the building and will be able to enjoy Christmas in their own homes.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Carlin said; “I would like to thank all the residents and the responsible person who have worked so well with our Fire Safety Inspectors and Sheffield City Council to enable the Prohibition Notice to be lifted in such a short amount of time.

“We are pleased that residents will now be able to spend Christmas in their own homes.”

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Building Risk Review – frequently asked questions

What is the Building Risk Review programme?

This is a national effort, led by the Government, to make high-rise residential buildings safer, and give us a better understanding of high-rise residential buildings across the country. It has come off the back of the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster and is now in its second phase.

The first phase of the programme focused on Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding. This saw us, and other fire services right across the country, work with building owners to identify buildings with ACM cladding and report back to the Government.

The second phase, which began in October, involves the inspection of all high-rise residential buildings that are over 18 metres high or have six or more storeys. The target is for all buildings in South Yorkshire that fit this criteria to have been inspected by the end of December 2021.

What is the South Yorkshire Building Risk Review team?

This is the team, made up of experienced fire safety inspectors from within South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, that are carrying out these Building Risk Review (BRR) inspections.

They came together in October 2020, thanks to a specific grant from the Government, and have already started inspecting buildings that meet the criteria.

They have around 200 ‘in scope’ buildings to look at within our county.

What will the team actually be doing?

First and foremost, they are contacting the responsible person for each ‘in scope’ building within the county to organise an inspection to assess the fire safety measures in place.

They will ask some initial questions, and go through a desktop audit process, to decide which buildings need to be inspected first.

They will then physically inspect each building, one by one, and raise any issues they find with the building management.

It’s important to note that the team is there to raise issues and offer advice and guidance. They are not able to physically deal with the issues themselves. As a result of their advice, action may be needed such as the removal of cladding or the introduction of waking watches. It is for the building owners to take such action.

What happens if you find something wrong with a building?

The team will raise any issues they find with the building management and work with them to get the problems dealt with as soon as possible.

In some cases, the team may feel the issues are serious enough to warrant an enforcement notice. This is where serious fire safety deficiencies are identified. Our inspectors, through the notice, will set a time frame for when the remedial work has to be completed.

In the most extreme cases, the team may have to issue a prohibition notice. This is where, using the powers given to us by the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005, we will prohibit the use of the building, or certain parts of the building.

Regrettably, this would involve evacuating residents until the issues are dealt with. People should be assured, though, that it is rare to issue such a notice and we would, of course, work very closely with the building management to get people back in their homes as soon as possible. This option is a last resort and is only used when we feel a building, or a part of a building, is unsafe for people to be living in.

Who is responsible for dealing with issues raised?

As already stated, the building management and owners are responsible for dealing with the issues raised. Our job, as the fire and rescue service, is to raise issues and offer advice on what needs to be done to sort them out. We will then re-inspect buildings to ensure they are safe and that the necessary work has been carried out.

Why has this work not been done before?

It has. We have been inspecting buildings, including high-rise residential blocks, for many years.

This project is simply about accelerating the pace of these inspections so that we can implement the learning from the Grenfell Tower disaster sooner rather than later.

What about other buildings across the county?

Inspections will still take place at other buildings that aren’t ‘in scope’ for this project. We have a wider team of inspecting officers who will be carrying on their work to inspect all buildings in South Yorkshire, regardless of height.

We must stress that all responsible persons should ensure they are fully aware of their fire safety responsibilities, high-rise or not.

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Fire service highlights relative’s story of Sheffield firefighter killed in 1940 blitz

South Yorkshire’s fire service is highlighting the story of a firefighting hero killed during the Sheffield Blitz- exactly 80 years after the events which took his life.

Frederick Parkes Spencer was the only permanent, full time Police Fireman – as they were then known – to have been killed when thousands of tons of explosives were dropped on Sheffield on the night of 12 and 13 December 1940.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has already honoured Frederick by naming one of the conference rooms at its Eyre Street headquarters in his memory.

Division Street drill yard

The room is just a stone’s throw from where Frederick lost his life on Charles Street, when the Empire Theatre received a direct hit from a German bomb.

One of his relatives, Anne Whiteley, has been researching the story of her mum’s cousin.

Anne said: “The night of the Blitz- a Thursday evening, 12 of December- had been half day closing, so Sheffield was busy, as it had always been a popular night for going out to the clubs, theatres, cinemas and dance halls. At the City Hall a dance was in progress. The entertainment at The Empire Theatre that evening was Henry Hall and his Orchestra”.

“The `take cover` warning was sounded at 7pm and enemy planes were soon overhead, attacking the city centre. Stationed and living at the service headquarters at Division Street, Frederick Parkes Spencer was on active duty that night, with all his colleagues”.

“Crews from Division Street, reinforced by part-time crews from Sheffield`s auxiliary fire stations were quickly in the city centre, and were attending the fires caused by the first wave of `marker` incendiaries when the second wave of enemy bombers arrived.”

Empire Theatre following the bombing

Over 500 telephone calls were received at the Fire Station Control Room. At 12.42 am on 13th December, Sheffield Police Fire Brigade requested assistance from Sheffield Transport Department and neighbouring fire brigades. In response, 50 pumps were sent from as far away as Birmingham, Manchester and York. Pumps also arrived from 20 towns.

The outside help eventually extended to over 70 pumps and 522 men. The most intense bombardment was between 10.30pm and 2.15am on 12 and 13 December, continuing for a total of nine hours.

Codenamed Operation Crucible by the Germans, these raids saw hundreds of Heinkel 111, Dornier 17 and Junker 88 drop many thousands of tons of explosives on Sheffield. Mains water supplies ran out quite quickly and needed to be relayed from public baths and even the river Don.

The Empire Theatre on Charles Street was hit by a bomb, and had received severe structural damage, was on fire, and in danger of collapse. Frederick was entering the theatre to try to check and clear the building of persons remaining inside, but he and Auxiliary Fireman Stanley Slack, age 29, who lived at Hermitage Street, Moorfoot, both died at the scene.

Anne said: “Frederick was 36 years old and the only permanent and full-time Police Fireman to die in the Blitz. Police Firemen had powers to arrest offenders and jail them if necessary, hence the cells which can still be seen at the National Emergency Services Museum, in Sheffield”.

“Frederick’s parents, and younger brother, Jack, were living at Bradway Road at the time. Jack Spencer, on leave from the Navy in Singapore, was only able to identify him from his brass helmet and the number `2` on his uniform, as he was so badly injured. This helmet and his posthumous award for bravery were later donated by Jack, and put on display at The National Emergency Services Museum”.

“However, Edna, his wife, had to vacate their flat at the Division Street headquarters and return to live with her parents close to Woodhouse cemetery where she buried Frederick,  his headstone simply stating `died as a result of enemy action`. Sheffield City Council Watch Committee of 19 December 1940 awarded her a pension of £78pa under the provisions of The Police Pensions Act 1921 and The Police and Fireman War Service Act 1939.”

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “As the events of World War II begin to fade from living memory, we believe it’s even more important than ever to tell the stories of people like Frederick Parkes Spencer and all the other men and women who lost their lives trying to protect Sheffield, its buildings and its people.”

Following The Sheffield Blitz further raids were mounted by The Luftwaffe. However, none of them matched the intensity and loss of life that occurred on 12/13 and 15 December 1940.

You can find out more about the contribution of the work of firefighters during the Sheffield Blitz by searching The Sheffield Fire Brigade website edited by Edward Mullins, and visiting the National Emergency Services Museum on West Bar in the city.

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Safety advice for businesses over the festive period

We know this is a very difficult time for everyone, including businesses, but it is vital that your business, and the people working for you, remain safe from fire.

With the Christmas period upon us we’ve put together some fire safety advice to help keep your business and those within the premises safe.

If you’re considering the introduction of any Christmas decorations into your premises over the festive period you should consider the following advice and also review your fire safety risk assessment before decorating.

Some of our key, general tips are:

  • Do not place Christmas trees, decorations or lights in the means of escape
  • Do not obstruct escape routes or escape doors
  • Do not obstruct or obscure fire escape signage, fire fighting equipment, emergency lighting, break glass call points, fire alarms sounders, emergency isolation points etc. with decorations.

Reviewing your fire safety risk assessment

Christmas decorations may increase the fire loading (flammable items/materials) and fire risk in your premises.

Your fire safety risk assessment should therefore be reviewed by a competent person prior to putting festive decorations in your premises.

There are five key steps to a fire risk assessment:

  • Identify the fire hazards
  • Identify people at risk
  • Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
  • Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan & provide training
  • Review and update regularly

More information on fire safety risk assessments can be found here.

Decorations

Take care with decorations and trees. Always use flame resistant/fire retardant products:

  • Decorations made of paper, cardboard and cotton wool should not be used – they are extremely flammable and can burn easily
  • Any Christmas decorations should be non-flammable/fire retardant – fire retardant decorations are available from suppliers
  • Positioning of decorations should not be in close proximity to sources of ignition
  • Decorations must not obstruct or obscure fire escape signage, firefighting equipment or other safety features

Christmas trees

  • If you have a natural Christmas tree ensure that it is watered daily because a Christmas tree which has dried out can be highly flammable
  • Avoid placing Christmas trees in areas where they could be easily knocked over
  • Christmas trees should be placed in a suitable stable container to prevent it from falling over
  • Christmas trees should never be put in positions where they obstruct or obscure escape routes or escape doors, fire escape signage, firefighting equipment or other safety features
  • Do not place Christmas trees, decorations or lights in the means of escape

Electrical lights and decorations

  • Don’t overload electrical circuits
  • All electrical lighting and electrical decorations should be tested before use by a competent person
  • All electrical lighting and electrical decorations should conform to the relevant British Safety Standard (marked with the appropriate Kite or CE mark)
  • Do not place electrical lights or electrical decorations in close proximity to combustible materials
  • Switch all Christmas decorations off at night

Extra stock over the festive period

  • Storage of extra stock should be considered by your fire risk assessment
  • All means of escape, doors, routes, stairways must be kept clear and unobstructed – goods and excess packaging should not be allowed to reduce widths in these areas – even temporarily
  • If you have extra stock you should ensure you have capacity to store the stock safely without blocking the means of escape or any fire exit doors or impinge upon any fire door which has to be kept clear or closed
  • Do not wedge open fire doors
  • You should make sure stock is not in close proximity to ignition sources, or too close to smoke detectors or sprinkler heads as this could affect their operation

Staff training

  • It is essential that all permanent staff and additional staff who may be employed on a temporary basis to cover this busy period are adequately trained regarding the action to be taken in the event of a fire and are made familiar with all fire precautions applicable to your building

Capacity

  • Do not exceed the recommended occupancy limits for your premises (your occupancy limits should be identified in your fire risk assessment)

Covid–19 and fire safety

Should you require further fire safety information please visit our business advice pages.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team please contact your local fire safety officer.

For safety advice in the home please click here.

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Fire safety team to inspect all high-rise residential buildings across South Yorkshire

A team of fire safety inspectors is embarking on an ambitious project to inspect all high-rise residential buildings across South Yorkshire, over 18 metres or with six or more storeys, by the end of next year.

This comes as part of a Government-driven ‘Building Risk Review’ programme that seeks to ‘significantly increase’ the pace of high-rise residential inspection activity across the country.

Made up of staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) business safety department, the specialist team has been funded by a specific Government grant.

As part of their work, the team will be contacting the responsible person for each high-rise residential building across South Yorkshire to arrange an inspection to assess the fire safety measures in place.

“Our aim, between now and the end of next year, is to physically inspect every high rise residential building in South Yorkshire,” said SYFR Area Manager, Simon Dunker, who is head of the service’s prevention and protection departments.

“We hope this work will provide reassurance to residents we are continuing to work to effect changes identified by the Grenfell inquiry and that resident safety remains our priority. We will work with building owners and managers to ensure any necessary work is carried out.”

Whilst this project is specifically targeted at residential buildings over 18 metres in height or with six or more storeys, inspectors are keen to stress all responsible persons should ensure they are fully aware of their fire safety responsibilities.

The service’s inspection officers, who are not directly involved in this project, will continue to inspect all buildings across South Yorkshire regardless of height.

Further information about the Building Risk Review project, and your fire safety responsibilities, can be found at www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice.

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Fire service wins global award for South Yorkshire flooding recovery

The fire service’s recovery from flooding which hit South Yorkshire last autumn has been recognised with a major international award.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was awarded ‘Most Effective Recovery’ at the Business Continuity Institute’s Global Awards.

The award- presented to the service’s Resilience, Planning and Contingencies team at a virtual ceremony- recognises organisations which have effectively managed major incidents.

The fire service rescued more than 300 people and pumped away an estimated 363 million litres of flood water when heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in parts of Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham in November 2019.

It also coordinated the efforts of fire and rescue services and other agencies who arrived from all over the UK to support the local effort.

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson, said: “The flooding which devastated so many parts of our county in 2019 will live long in the memory for many people and sadly it continues to affect the lives of those who were most severely affected. However, we are pleased that our work to plan for, respond to and ultimately recover from such an event has been acknowledged in this way. It provides much needed recognition to our staff who work so hard behind the scenes.”

The BCI Awards honour business continuity and resilience professionals and organizations worldwide. The global awards are the most prestigious event in the business continuity calendar.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue represented Europe, overcoming competition from organisations from five other regions to win the award.

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Sheffield building owner fined after failing to provide cladding info to fire inspectors

A Sheffield building owner has been fined after obstructing the work of fire safety inspectors.

Mr Gunes Ata, trading as Noble Design & Build, was found guilty by Sheffield Magistrates Court of failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with requirements imposed by an inspector from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

Mr Ata did not attend the hearing on Wednesday (18 November) and did not enter a plea, but the court heard the case in his absence.

Evidence presented by the fire service showed that Mr Ata had failed to provide information relating to the external cladding of one of his buildings within the timescales requested by inspectors. This information was later provided and the cladding in question at London Court on Beeley Street was removed.

The Court ordered Mr Ata be fined £660, to pay a victims surcharge of £66 and to pay full costs of £1177.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, said: “Fire safety laws are designed to keep people safe- nothing more, nothing less. Whilst our building safety inspectors always try to engage positively with building owners and responsible persons, we will also make no hesitation in prosecuting those who persistently obstruct our work.”

For more information on business fire safety laws, visit www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice

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Two weeks left to have say on fire service plans

There’s just over two weeks left for people to have their say on draft plans published by South Yorkshire’s fire service – including proposals for how quickly it should respond to different types of emergency.

Have your say here

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as it possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make it more accountable to local people, help it to improve its service and bring them in line with most other services around the country.

Currently the service simply aims to get to all emergencies as fast as it can, every time. A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards.

The proposed new response time arrangements will take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Adopting a more risk based approach allows us to ensure we are placing resources in the right places at the right time to best protect the communities we serve. This includes the work we do around preventing fires, protecting buildings and responding to incidents when they do occur.

“We will still aim to get to each emergency as fast as we can, but having a set of response times means we can measure our performance to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to our communities with the resources we have available to us.”

The response time proposals follow initial consultation with more than 3,000 local people and a thorough analysis of the different risks faced by the fire service in South Yorkshire.

They form part of the service’s latest draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’. This is a plan which explains the different risks in South Yorkshire how the fire service intends to address them with the resources it has available.

The draft plan was discussed by members of the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (14 September), who instructed the service to begin a further period of consultation with staff and the public.

The consultation period closes on 4 December.

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Stark warning from man left with severe burns after garden fire disaster

A man from Sheffield, who set himself on fire when using petrol on his seemingly unlit garden fire, is urging people not to follow in his footsteps and make the same mistake.

Paul Wyatt, 50, was burning hedge trimmings in his garden earlier this year. He put paper on the bottom and hedge trimmings on top, before adding a match, which didn’t light the fire.

He decided to apply a drop of petrol, planning to step back and throw a match on. Unbeknown to him, the original match was still smouldering.

Immediately after pouring the fuel onto the fire, the oil drum he was burning his garden waste in ‘went up light a jet engine’ and set his upper body on fire.

Later that evening he was placed into an induced coma at the Northern General Hospital, with his face burnt and swelling, and doctors concerned about damage to his airways.

He has since made a good recovery but now has to use cream on his burns four times a day, has to wear factor 30 sun cream for a year and has nerve damage to his hands.

Paul, and his wife Ann, now hope that by sharing their story, they can prevent this happening to other people in the future.

“Having spoken to our friends, family and colleagues since the accident, it seems it’s a really common thing to use petrol to fuel a fire,” said Paul, who has to now do exercises to stretch his skin.

“The injuries I have will be with me for the rest of my life, but I know how lucky I am – the hospital staff said it was a good job I didn’t breathe in whilst my head was on fire as I could have damaged my airways and paid a much bigger price.

“I’ll certainly never add any kind of accelerant to a fire again and I’d really urge other people not to make the same mistake I did – it really isn’t worth it.”

Paul’s warning is being supported and echoed by fire officers from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, as part of their latest Operation Dark Nights bonfire campaign.

“We always tell people not to use accelerants on bonfires, in fact more recently we’re asking people not to have bonfires at all, and what happened to Paul is exactly why,” said Station Manager Steve Jones, who helps lead the joint police and fire community safety department.

“When it comes to petrol, even the vapours can set alight, and make the fire spread rapidly to the person holding the can. In this incident, it only took a split second and the top half of Paul’s body was totally ablaze.

“Ideally people won’t be having garden fires over the coming weeks but, if you must, don’t even think about adding an accelerant and make sure those you care about don’t, either.”

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