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Joint fire and police vehicle workshops hailed a success

South Yorkshire’s police and fire services have hailed the success of a new joint facility for collision repairs- less than six months after opening.

South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue worked together to develop the new building, which is next to Rotherham fire station in Eastwood.

Everything from paint jobs to high-tech diagnostic work and repairs get carried out at the workshops, with hundreds of vehicles from across both organisations’ fleets passing through the facility each year.

The move also helped to create a new central stores facility for the fire service, creating a better place to store, secure and administer equipment for frontline firefighters.

Head of joint vehicle fleet management Sarah Gilding, said: “Our workshop mechanics are instrumental in keeping operational vehicles ready to respond to emergencies, so it’s only right that they now have a light, bright, modern facility in which to carry out their work.

“A new spray booth means we can achieve a better quality finish on our vehicles, whilst technicians have the very latest equipment available to help them diagnose faults. The workshop staff from each organisation also now work really well together- sharing experiences and learning on the huge variety of vehicles they work on- from HGVs to bicycles.”

The two services brought their vehicle fleets under a shared management structure in 2018. The following year they were named fleet of the year at a major national industry awards.

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 placed a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

In South Yorkshire, the police and fire and rescue services have already built a joint police and fire station in Maltby, formed a shared community safety department and developed more than 50 other areas of joint working.

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Fire service makes water safety plea

South Yorkshire’s fire service is asking people to stay out of water this summer, unless they are part of an organised open water swimming group.

The message comes as part of a national week of action, run from Monday 26 April to Monday 3 May by the National Fire Chief’s Council, in which fire services across the country are urging people to stay safe near water.

Firefighters hope that by joining forces, and gaining support of partners such as the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), they can reduce the 144 water rescues and incidents they attended last year.

This push also comes less than a year after the family of local teenager, Taylor Matthews, shared their tragic story in hope of saving other young lives.

Taylor, also known as Tay, drowned in Doncaster’s Skelbrooke Quarry in July 2018. He was out with friends when he jumped in from a bank around 30 feet high.

As soon as he entered the water, he suffered from cold water shock, which saw his body shut down. The inquest into his death ruled that he died from immersion.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, what happened to Taylor was a tragedy, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Watch Manager Craig Huxley, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) lead for water safety.

“That’s why we’re supporting this week of action, and will be campaigning around water safety over the coming months as the weather warms up.

“Our message is simple – people should stay out of the water unless they are part of an open water swimming group, of which there are several in and around South Yorkshire.

“Unless you are part of one of these groups, you shouldn’t be going anywhere near open bodies of water such as quarries, lakes and reservoirs.

“To start with, lots of these places are privately owned, so people shouldn’t be going there anyway. Then, beyond that, there are a wide range of risks with jumping into open water.

“Firstly, the water is almost always colder than it looks. As was the case with Taylor, your body can temporarily shut down from cold water shock which can stop even strong swimmers.

“Secondly, you don’t know what’s under the surface. There could be anything such as trollies, broken glass or plastic and reeds that can trap you.

“Finally, there are often hidden currents in bodies of water that can overpower even the strongest of swimmers. It’s just not worth the risk.”

In the run up to the week of action, officers from SYFR have developed a range of water safety videos that have been sent into primary and secondary schools across the county.

The service has also joined up with the RLSS UK to develop a range of education and safety materials, including the development of a dedicated water safety website – www.syfrwater.co.uk.

This website features a range of information on how to keep you, your friends and your family safe, and also features interactive games for children.

Lee Heard, Charity Director for the Royal Life Saving Society UK, said:

“We know how tempting it is to jump in to cool off on a hot day, but the difference between the air temperature and the water temperature will literally take your breath away and dramatically reduce your ability to self-rescue.

“Swimming with a group at a recognised site is just one of many ways you can really have fun in the water, safe in the knowledge that the set-up is designed to look out for all of you.

“RLSS UK urge people to learn to enjoy water safely before they head out, ensuring everyone has a great day.”

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New Barnsley fire station taking shape

A brand new, energy efficient station for Barnsley’s firefighters is taking shape.

The former three-storey building on Broadway, Kingstone has been demolished and the steelwork for a new two storey, three bay facility on the same site is already up.

Firefighters are being housed in a temporary facility off-site whilst construction of the new building takes place

Director of Support Services Stuart Booth, said: “We’re making really good progress with the development, which represents part of our vision to provide all our firefighters with modern, comfortable and energy efficient spaces in which to live and work.

“We’re confident that this major building project, which is being paid for using money set aside from the Authority’s reserves, will become fully operational later this summer and provide an outstanding service to the people of Barnsley for many years to come.”

A separate multi-use facility is to be built on the same site, which will host the service’s award-winning Princes Trust Team Programme initiative as well as providing space to hold events and meetings and bookings from community groups. A new training building to complement the existing drill tower is to be constructed also. Both of these builds will take place once the main fire station is complete.

Energy saving measures at the new fire station will include low energy, LED lighting with motion sensors and an air source heat pump.

The investment forms part of a wider, short to medium term approved plan to invest in the fire service’s property estate, with around £8 million being set aside from its reserves to modernise and improve its estate.

Bond Bryan acted as architects for the project, with JF Finnegans appointed as contractors.

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Police and fire team reflects on ‘year like no other’ 12 months on from first lockdown

An emergency services team on the frontline of keeping people safe during the pandemic has revealed the full breadth of its work, as it reflects on a year’s activity since the UK’s first lockdown.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police’s joint community safety department has delivered education packages to more than 8,000 children, visited 2,500 high-risk vulnerable people and given guns and knives training to over 2,100 pupils.

Thousands more children have attended internet safety sessions, 64 people accessed the department’s ‘Think Family’ arson intervention scheme and 11,000 school children attended the interactive safety centre- Lifewise- when Covid-19 restrictions were eased last year.

All of this came on top of the team’s efforts to support vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, including deliveries of essential food and medicines to hundreds of homes.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, leads the joint department, said: “The last 12 months really have been a year like no other for us as a team, but I just feel so incredibly proud of the way our staff and volunteers have stepped up to help keep local people safe.

“Like so many organisations, we’ve had to adapt very quickly- suspending or transferring our core activities online the moment the first lockdown was announced, whilst also taking on new tasks to make sure vulnerable people in South Yorkshire were getting the support they needed.

“Staff from across fire and policing have risen to that challenge brilliantly, though of course we are now looking forward to delivering more face-to-face help to people as lockdown restrictions hopefully continue to ease throughout the remainder of this year.

The Policing & Crime Act 2017 placed a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The joint community safety department was formed in 2018, bringing together existing teams in the police and fire and rescue services.

The team’s core activities include the delivery of schools education work, safety visits to people’s homes and youth engagement initiatives such as its award winning Princes Trust Team Programme.

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False information on social media targeted in new South Yorkshire campaign

Misinformation is the target of a new campaign in South Yorkshire, which seeks to curb the spread of false content online.

Health chiefs, emergency services and councils across South Yorkshire are coming together to warn people to think twice about the things they share- and to get their information from official sources.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign draws on local references and familiar conversations to point out how well-meaning conversations online can quickly develop and become harmful.

Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Greg Fell, said: “Research suggests that younger people are particularly susceptible to misleading and false information, which can spread to tens of thousands of people very quickly on social media or via instant messaging applications like Whatsapp.

“Some of the examples we’re sharing as part of this campaign are intentionally light hearted, but the issue is a really serious one. False or misleading information has the potential to cause harm and cost lives during any emergency, but especially during a public health crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Clearly there’s little we can do to stop people posting false information online, nor are we in a position where we want to curb people’s freedom of speech. What we do want people to do is to think twice before they share information online and to refer to trusted, official sources wherever possible- like government, council or emergency service websites.”

The ‘Killer Detail’ campaign has been developed by public agencies which form part of South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum. The forum is responsible for overseeing the region’s response to major emergencies, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

A study published by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI in December found one in three people in the UK have been exposed to messages discouraging the public from getting a coronavirus vaccine.

The research revealed that a notable minority believe conspiracy theories- with belief especially high among young people and those who get a lot of information on the pandemic from social media platforms.

The Government launched its own campaign to combat minsinformation online last in March, using shareable videos and trust community figures to call for people to check before they share.

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Fire staff to deliver vaccine as part of St John Ambulance volunteer scheme

Fire service staff have been trained by St John Ambulance, as part of a volunteer scheme to help deliver the NHS vaccination programme.

Staff including firefighters, officers and support were trained to administer the vaccine and to support people as they go through the vaccination process.

The volunteers will complete up to two shifts a month with St John Ambulance as part of the huge national effort to get the country vaccinated.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “No matter what the challenge is, fire and rescue service staff are ready, willing and able to help our communities wherever it is needed.

“I am very proud of every member of staff who has stepped forward so far to receive this training and incredibly grateful to St John Ambulance for giving us the skills, training and opportunity to do our bit.

“Myself and the other staff who have volunteered really can’t wait to get out to a vaccination centre to support this monumental national effort.”

Fire and rescue staff have already delivered more than 120,000 vaccines nationally.

In South Yorkshire, the fire service has supported the local response to the pandemic by delivering food and medicine to isolated people, distributing more than 1.3 million pieces of PPE to frontline health workers and working with military planners to identify vaccination sites. Some firefighters also volunteered to drive ambulances during the first wave.

The service was recently presented with an award by the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire Carole O’Neill in recognition of its work during the pandemic.

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