South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Fire and rescue staff prepare to take on mammoth 170 mile charity swim

Staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue will be swapping fire helmets for swimming caps next week as they prepare to swim the equivalent of the perimeter of South Yorkshire (170 miles) to raise money for two incredible causes – The Fire Fighters Charity and The Royal Life Saving Society.

People from across the organisation, from frontline firefighters to corporate staff, have pledged that they will swim anything from 100 metres to several miles to support the Big SYFR Swim challenge which runs from 22-29 May.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “I’m really looking forward to swimming with my colleagues for such important causes.

“Sadly, people drown in our county every year. When these incidents occur it is incredibly traumatic for the family affected but also their community and our firefighters who attend in such distressing circumstances.

“Every life lost is one too many. That’s why we decided to support the Royal Life Saving Society and the work they do in helping people learn how to swim and enjoy the water safely.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK has a proud history of helping to reducing the number of lives lost to drowning.

Their mission is to be the leader in lifesaving and lifeguarding in the UK and Republic of Ireland, aiming to give everyone the potential to save lives and enjoy water, safely.

“I’m delighted that we are also supporting the Fire Fighters Charity who do such amazing work for firefighters and their families across the UK.”

The Fire Fighters Charity offers specialist, lifelong support for members of the UK fire services community, empowering individuals to live happier and healthier lives.

The charity supports serving fire service personnel and their families as well as those who are retired and provides them with information, advice and support whenever they need it.

You can donate to the Big SYFR Swim here.

Visit our website for more information about how to enjoy water, safely.

Fire service sprinkler plea as national week marked

The fire service is calling for the widespread adoption of sprinklers by businesses, schools and care homes, as it marks a national awareness week.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has tackled 1,065 fires in non-domestic properties over the last three years. The most serious of these incidents can take fire engines several hours to tackle, as well as potentially putting the company involved out of business.

But business fire safety officers say fire sprinklers are the most effective way to suppress or even extinguish a before the fire service can arrive.

Sprinklers save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire.

Business fire safety manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “A sprinkler system can quickly suppress a fire before it gets out of control. When you consider the huge costs associated with a commercial premise fire such as rebuilding, relocation, loss of equipment, stock and trading, it seems like an obvious move to install a sprinkler system, but many businesses still don’t.”

The fire service, through the National Fire Chief’s Council, is currently campaigning for this threshold under which businesses must legally install sprinklers to be lowered- as well as calling for sprinklers to be installed in care homes and specialised housing, schools and student accommodation.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has already helped pioneer a drive for sprinklers to be installed in residential properties. In 2011, sprinklers were retro-fitted into a block of flats in Gleadless after a grant from the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association. It was the first scheme of its kind in the country.

It has also provided funding to support the installation of sprinklers in high-risk domestic premises- like care homes and refuges- in a bid to protect vulnerable residents using the Fire Authority’s Safer Stronger Communities Reserve (SSCR).

“We’ve already had several success stories as a result of the sprinkler projects we’ve supported in South Yorkshire. In all of these incidents a fire has occurred, but the presence of sprinklers has drastically reduced the amount of damage and potentially saved lives,” said Amy.

Fire Sprinkler Week (15 to 21 May), coordinated nationally by the National Fire Chief’s Council, seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of sprinklers to businesses, high-risk domestic premises and educational establishments.

Service responds to national report

Our Chief Fire Officer has responded to today’s report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) on values and culture in the fire service nationally.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby, said: “The HMICFRS report on values and culture makes difficult reading for anyone working in the fire and rescue service. It shouldn’t need saying- but there is absolutely no place for the negative behaviour and attitudes described in the report in any modern workplace.

“We have clear policies in place on bullying, harassment and discrimination and regularly work with staff networks and representative bodies to improve these. We also have a well-established set of staff behaviours which we expect all our people to follow.

“But we must never be complacent. That’s why we will be reviewing this new report in detail and looking to implement improvements to our own service where appropriate.

“We aspire to be a great place to work where everyone can be themselves. We will be using the findings of this report to further support our work towards this.”

Brand new campaign shines light on women in the fire service

A South Yorkshire recruitment campaign aims to change perceptions of women in the fire service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s ‘A Firefighter Is A Firefighter’ campaign includes a new hard-hitting video, which highlights the fact that all firefighters meet the same standards and do the same job – regardless of their gender.

At the same time the service will be publishing a fresh episode of its official podcast, Shout, featuring women from across the service.

The service hopes the campaign can inspire more women across South Yorkshire to consider a role in the fire service.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby, said: “I sincerely hope that women across South Yorkshire will listen to our podcast, watch our video, and consider registering their interest in a career with us.

“It’s hugely important that our workforce represents the communities we serve. We want to be an organisation that boasts a wide range of skills and delivers a first class service to the public, and we can’t do that without employing a brilliant, diverse range of people.”

The culture of the fire and rescue service has been in the news recently, with allegations made about the conduct of a minority of staff at services across the UK.

“Having worked in the sector myself for over 20 years, it’s extremely disappointing to hear about the poor experiences some people have had working in the fire and rescue service. Whilst I am confident that the vast majority of staff in South Yorkshire are committed to our values and behaviours, we accept and acknowledge that we are part of a sector which has work to do.

“We have already taken lots of steps internally, in the wake of the recent national findings and news stories, and something that I am keen to do is stress to people across South Yorkshire that we are an inclusive and welcoming organisation to join,” said Chris.

The campaign has been launched to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Last year, South Yorkshire became the first UK fire and rescue service to produce and display a ‘Women of Fire’ exhibition – displaying a range of portrait photographs in person at the Winter Gardens in Sheffield, and online via a dedicated website.

Meanwhile the service has a rich history when it comes to supporting International Women’s Day – with its ‘Firefighter Mums’ and ‘Anyone Can Be Anything’ videos inspiring hundreds of women to register an interest in firefighting careers.

Aspiring firefighters are still able to register their interest in said careers, via the service’s website.

Can you fill these boots? Rallying cry issued to local residents

Residents in Rossington, Stocksbridge, Askern, Penistone, Dearne and Birley are being challenged to step up and join their local fire crew, as the county’s fire service launches another on-call firefighter recruitment drive.

New vacancies have arisen at the stations in each of these areas – with more staff needed to keep the fire engines’ wheels turning and respond to fires, floods, road traffic collisions and other emergency incidents.

Fire officers say there has never been a better time to join the service and pursue what is a childhood dream for so many people.

South Yorkshire needs you

“Our message to local people is simple – we need them!” said Station Manager Chris Tyler, who oversees the service’s on-call fire stations.

“On-call firefighters get the same training as wholetime staff, but they don’t work shifts. Instead, they carry a pager and respond from work and home when needed.

“This is one of the most unique jobs in the world as it requires a huge amount of commitment, bravery and determination.

“What we are asking is for people to consider making themselves available to respond to emergencies on top of their existing jobs and personal family commitments.

“It’s a big ask, but it’s also a huge opportunity and an exciting time to join our service. We need incredible people to fill our boots, and we know they are out there somewhere.”

“We’ve long known how valuable our on-call crews are”

Prospective on-call firefighters are required to live or work within five minutes of their local station, so they are able to get on the fire engine quickly if needed.

Calls can come in at all times of day and night – with existing staff claiming the adrenaline rush that comes with getting a call is one of the best parts of the job.

On-call crews are used right across the country to provide fire cover to more remote areas, with firefighters getting a ‘retainer fee’ for being on stand by, plus an hourly rate on top.

Last year, on-call staff were involved in battling the flurry of wildfires attended by the service during the July and August 2022 heatwaves.

Officers say that without them, the service wouldn’t be able to run.

“We’ve long known how valuable our on-call crews are, but you only have to look at the heatwaves we experienced last year to see how important they are.

“Some of our staff finished a day at work, got changed and then got on the fire engine to help deal with the unprecedented demand we faced – on the hottest day of the year.

“Their commitment is incredible and I’d encourage anyone who feels they would like a challenge to get on our website and give us their details. We’ll be in touch.”

Find out more

You can register your interest in an on-call role with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue on the service’s website, here.

Service launches myth-busting campaign in bid to drive down house fires

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are asking the county’s residents to not believe everything they read or hear when it comes to fire safety.

The warning, issued by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, comes amidst a ‘cost of living’ crisis which has seen potentially dangerous money saving ‘hacks’ being shared online.

Fire crews have also attended a number of fires locally, over the winter period, which have been started through unsafe heating practices.

The service is therefore asking people across South Yorkshire to keep fire safety at the top of their mind when they are seeking to save money.

Be vigilant around what you read online…

“We’re very aware of the cost pressures everyone is facing currently, and we’d really urge anyone who is in trouble to seek support,” said SYFR Area Manager, Matt Gillatt.

“However, we’d also like to encourage people to be sensible and safe when it comes to cutting costs – keeping fire safety at the front of their minds at all times.

“We really want people to be vigilant around the stuff they read online or on social media. There are a lot of ‘money saving hacks’ doing the rounds that really aren’t very safe.”

Some of the money saving ‘hacks’ the service is referring to include using terracotta pots, baking trays and tea light candles to create DIY room heaters.

Fire officers are also concerned that people may delay the replacement of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in order to save money.

They are keen to stress that not only is there a range of financial support available, but the service offers free home safety checks to those deemed at increased risk of fire.

“We want people to know that we are here if they need us – we offer a free online home safety assessment and then, if necessary, will come out and conduct an in-person visit.

“At this visit our crews will install free smoke alarms and offer a range of advice on how to stay safe from fire, before signposting residents to any additional support they may need.

“And if you have a neighbour, friend or relative that you feel needs our help – we can do that too. You just need to carry out the online assessment on their behalf.”

Key advice for South Yorkshire residents

The service is offering key advice to people, as part of this latest campaign, to keep safe:

  • Ensure you only buy genuine electrical items from reputable suppliers
  • Ensure you use the correct fuel in your log burners
  • Have your chimney swept every year by a registered chimney sweep
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home

Anyone who feels they would benefit from a home safety check can carry out the online assessment here or call 0114 253 2314.

Common fire safety myths – busted!

FICTION – Cheap, imitation phone cables are just as good as the originals 
FACT –  
Electricals that are too cheap to be true usually don’t meet safety standards

FICTION – Using washing machines and tumble dryers overnight is cheaper
FACT –
It’s highly likely your ‘leccy will cost the same in the day as it does at night

FICTION – You don’t need smoke alarms – you’d notice if your house was on fire
FACT –
Smoke is silent – it won’t wake you up if a fire burns whilst you’re sleeping

FICTION – You can save money on your heating bills by using portable gas rings
FACT –
Makeshift heating solutions can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide

FICTION – You can use any wood in your wood burner, even stuff from the local park
FACT –
Log burner regulations state you should use smokeless, low moisture fuel

FICTION – Chimneys don’t really need sweeping – it’s just a money making scheme
FACT –
Chimneys need to be clear to allow free passage of dangerous gasses

FICTION – If you live in a rented property, it is your responsibility to fit CO alarms
FACT –
Not anymore! Law changes mean that this is now a landlord’s responsibility

FICTION – Using candles to light a room is cheaper than electricity
FACT –
It’s very unlikely buying a candle will be cheaper than running a light bulb

Prince’s Trust Harry’s help for older person praised by paramedics

A young person from Barnsley taking part in a fire service development scheme has been praised by paramedics for coming to the aid of an older person.

Harry Prew arrived late for a session at Barnsley fire station as part of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Prince’s Trust Team Programme.

It was only later that it was revealed he’d discovered an older man in a ditch. He called the emergency services- waiting with the man and making him comfortable until the ambulance service arrived on the scene.

Paramedics later dropped in to personally thank Harry for the caring attitude he showed.

Prince’s Trust Team Leader John Daley, said: “Harry has been very modest about his actions, but he displayed great professionalism and compassion and is another example of the amazing potential in all young people.”

Team Programme is a 12-week personal development course for unemployed 16 to 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills and community projects.

Individuals will gain new skills and qualifications, mix with new people and make new friends, get help with job-hunting and CV writing and most importantly a big boost to their confidence and a real sense of achievement.

To sign-up to the next programme starting in May, email princestrust@syfire.gov.uk.

Fire Authority decides on Council Tax precept rise

The fire service’s governing Fire Authority has decided to increase its portion of Council Tax by £5 next year, at its budget setting meeting today (Monday 20 February)

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue faces a multi-million pound deficit in the coming years as a result of increased costs of goods, services, fuel and energy- plus the impact of nationally negotiated wage increases for its staff.

Householders in Band D currently pay £77.58 per year for their Fire and Rescue Service, which will now rise to £82.58 per year from April- an increase of less than 10p per week.

The service has previously outlined the financial risks it faces in its medium term financial plan. It will be making a commitment to find new savings in an efficiencies plan to be published next month.

A £5 precept rise adds about £1.8million to the service’s annual budget of around £60 million.

However, rising utility prices and forecast wage increases are likely to add at least £4 million to the service’s annual expenditure.

Fire Authority Members made their decision on Council Tax at the fire and rescue authority meeting on Monday 20 February.

Fire Authority to consider Council Tax precept rise

The fire service’s governing Fire Authority will decide whether to increase its portion of Council Tax by £5 next year, at its budget setting meeting later this month.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue faces a multi-million pound deficit in the coming years as a result of increased costs of goods, services, fuel and energy- plus the impact of nationally negotiated wage increases for its staff.

Householders in Band D currently pay £77.58 per year for their Fire and Rescue Service, which would rise to £82.58 per year if the rise is approved- an increase of less than 10p per week.

The service has previously outlined the financial risks it faces in its medium term financial plan. It will be making a commitment to find new savings in an efficiencies plan to be published next month.

A £5 precept rise would add about £1.8million to the service’s annual budget of around £60 million.

However, rising utility prices and forecast wage increases are likely to add at least £4 million to the service’s annual expenditure.

Fire Authority Members will make their decision on Council Tax at the fire and rescue authority meeting on Monday 20 February.

Prohibition notice lifted on Sheffield apartment block

A Sheffield apartment block has had a prohibition notice lifted, after work to address serious fire safety concerns was completed.

Fire safety inspecting officers from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue served a prohibition notice on Wicker Riverside in December because previously identified issues with the building had not been resolved.

The notice had been due to come into force on 31 January- but work undertaken by the responsible persons to address the issues means it has now been lifted. Residents previously evacuated from floors six to 10 of the building have also been allowed to return.

SYFR Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Strelczenie, said: “Prohibiting the use of a building in this way is always a last resort and we are sorry for the disruption and distress this has caused to all those living there. Ultimately though, people’s safety must come first.

“We are reassured by the efforts taken by the responsible persons to resolve matters within the building. The remedial work completed is the minimum required to keep people safe and we will continue to engage with the responsible persons to ensure the remaining issues with the building are effectively resolved.”

The fire service originally served an enforcement notice on Wicker Riverside in December 2020 and continued to engage with the responsible persons since then to ensure the safety issues identified by inspectors were resolved.

SYFR is responsible for enforcing fire safety laws in South Yorkshire. It employs fire safety inspecting officers who carry out fire safety audits. If the inspecting officer identifies any fire safety deficiencies, they have a range of options available to them- including issuing a prohibition notice.

A prohibition notice is a legal notice. Where there is a serious and imminent risk to life fire safety inspecting officers can prohibit or restrict the use of premises. If the premises continues to be used against the prohibition notice, then anyone failing to comply with the notice may be prosecuted.