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Six in Sheffield graduate from fire and police youth programme

Six young people have successfully graduated from a fire and police development programme, after youth engagement work got back underway with a bang after long months of lockdown.

The group- all aged 16 to 25 years old – took part in a life enhancing 12 week personal development course known as Prince’s Trust Team Programme.

The South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police led initiative offers work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community work and a residential week to young people not in employment, education or training.

The young people were all thrown out of their comfort zone, with highlights including a mammoth trek to a World War Two aircraft wreck in the Peak District and a community initiative which saw them transform a children’s playground.

SYFR Team Programme Leader John Daley said; “Young people have had it tough over the last year- their education has been disrupted, employment opportunities have been put on hold and socialising has been made difficult by the restrictions we’ve all been living under. But this group have come together brilliantly and should feel extremely proud of everything they have achieved.

“Although we’ve done our best to keep our youth engagement work going during the pandemic, this has obviously been limited, so it feels fantastic to be able to come together with the young people and their families to celebrate their achievements at an event such as this.”

The graduation which was held at the Niagara Centre in Sheffield and was a great celebration of all their hard work and efforts. It was attended by their friends and family as well as local dignitaries, including the Vice Lord Lieutenant John Holt and Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Gail Smith.

More than 250 young people have been through the South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Prince’s Trust Team Programme in four years. Four out of every five go on to achieve a successful outcome, be it entering employment, education or training.

To be part of the next programme, email princestrust@syfire.gov.uk

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Fire service public events back on following lockdown lifting

The fire service has marked the lifting of coronavirus restrictions by attending its first public safety event in months.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue firefighters and safety officers were amongst those who attended a family fun day at Shirecliffe Heliport- with the event doubling up as a charity fundraiser.

A fire engine and chip pan display unit- which educates people about the dangers of pouring water onto hot oil – were also there, alongside vehicles and staff from other emergency services.

Community Safety Team Leader Amanda Thompson, said: “The fire service is best known for the work our brilliant frontline crews do responding to 999 calls. Equally important though is our work to educate the public- either by visiting their homes or at community events such as this one.

“We’ve had to adapt our community work significantly over the last 18 months or so and whilst we’re proud of the work we’ve continued to deliver throughout the pandemic, it still feels good to be back in the community and talking to people at events like this one about preventing fires and other emergencies.”

The well attended event in Parkwood Springs coincided with Eid and also helped to raise money for Cash For Kids, which supports children and young people affected by poverty, abuse, neglect, life-limiting illness and those who have additional needs.

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Fire service pandemic volunteer coordinators celebrate Cutler’s award win

A team at the heart of coordinating fire service volunteers who supported South Yorkshire’s pandemic response have been honoured with a special award.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s three-strong ‘volunteers cell’ oversaw the work of 200 fire service staff who volunteered to fulfil multiple requests for support from partner agencies as they strived to keep essential services running during the first stages of the pandemic.

Those tasks included making food and prescription deliveries, training to drive ambulances, fitting face masks for care staff and distributing PPE to health workers.

Now the team behind the work has been given the prestigious team award at the Cutlers’ Company Police and Fire Service annual awards in recognition of their exemplary service.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson QFSM, said: “Many of the requests from partners, raised via South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum, were extremely urgent, meaning that the cell had to work quickly, flexibly and often during unsociable hours to make sure the right volunteers were available to fulfil them.

“The cell also had to liaise with external partners across the country to establish safe systems of work, to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our volunteers whilst carrying out additional duties.

“All of the work of the volunteers cell was delivered remotely, with staff using video conferencing and email to deliver this work.

“In short, we are proud of the work we did to help our communities during the pandemic, but none of it could have been delivered without the work of the small, dedicated group of people who made up our volunteers cell.”

At the same event, Watch Manager Fleur Holland QFSM won the individual award after used her role within the service’s community safety team to help coordinate the delivery of hundreds of food parcels and thousands of prescriptions to people with no other means of support.

Acutely aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the mental health younger people, she also used her role as one of the service’s youth engagement leads to organise a fundraising challenge for the service’s fire cadets.

Emergency Planning Assistant Liz Bramley and Community Safety Co-ordinator Claire Walsh were the others nominated for the individual awards.

The service’s ICT team and Covid-19 volunteers were the others nominated for the team award.

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Residents reassured as inspection of high rise residential buildings continues

High-rise buildings on an inspection list are not inherently unsafe say fire officers, as they report good progress in their mission to visit every high rise residential block in South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) has today published the list of high-rise residential buildings forming part of its ‘Building Risk Review’ project.

The list includes buildings identified by central government plus extra buildings identified by the SYFR- which made the decision to include all buildings of six storeys and over.

Buildings are on the list because of their height- not because they are automatically deemed unsafe.

The ambitious, government-funded project tasked fire and rescue services with returning information on all high rise residential buildings by the end of this year. A dedicated team of fire safety inspectors was set up to complete the work in South Yorkshire.

From an original list of around 300 buildings, there are now less than 70 left for them to inspect as part of this work.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, said: “It’s really important for residents to understand that this list does not mean that those buildings are inherently unsafe- just that we want to ensure we have accurate, up-to-date information on these buildings and are able to provide this information to government.  .

“Like all fire and rescue services, the government issued us with a list of high rise residential buildings for which they have requested further information on. Having cross referenced this list with our own local information, the list of buildings we are inspecting as part of this work has grown to beyond those which are simply over 18 metres high. This is because we want to be really clear about what is and isn’t in scope and be as thorough as we can possibly be.

“We have invested in a dedicated inspection team to complete this work and intend to complete it as quickly and as thoroughly as we can, to ensure the ongoing safety of residents in South Yorkshire. We are well on course to have completed this work before the end of December 2021.”

“We hope this work will provide reassurance to residents in the wake of the initial findings of the Grenfell inquiry and illustrates resident safety remains our priority. Where we identify an issue with a building, we will then work with building owners and managers to ensure any necessary work is carried out.”

Fire safety inspecting officers not directly involved in this project will continue to inspect other buildings across South Yorkshire regardless of height in accordance with their risk based audit programme.

More information about the Building Risk Review project can be found here

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Fire service launches business safety recruitment drive

A massive fire service recruitment drive aims to boost its work enforcing safety laws.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has today (Wednesday 7 July) launched a major new campaign calling on people to consider a role within its business fire safety team.

The team is responsible for everything from inspecting businesses and licensing fireworks retailers, to checking high-rise buildings – work which has increased significantly following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Area Manager Simon Dunker, said: “Our frontline fire crews rightly get praise for the brilliant job they do responding to 999 calls, but our business fire safety officers play just as an important role in terms of making sure businesses and other premises are complying with safety laws designed to keep people safe.

“We’re looking for people with a hunger to learn and a desire to make a difference to put themselves forward for a team which ultimately saves lives.”

The service is currently advertising for positions as business fire safety advisors – with further vacancies expected to follow.

For more information, click here

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South Yorkshire firefighters to carry ‘smoke hoods’ to aid escapes

Firefighters in South Yorkshire have started carrying fire escape hoods to protect members of the public from toxic smoke at fires.

The smoke hoods provide members of the public with up to 15 minutes protection from four of the main fire gases (carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride and acrolein) and can be worn by conscious or unconscious people. If more than 15 minutes protection is required then another hood can be given to each wearer.

They do not provide oxygen, but temporarily filter toxic smoke to make breathing easier. Firefighters will be able to offer people a hood to wear whilst they are being rescued and they will also be used to protect those who aren’t able to escape easily, such as the elderly or wheelchair users.

Head of Emergency Response Andy Strelczenie, said: “Smoke from fires is extremely toxic and just a few breaths can render you unconscious. These hoods filter out the most dangerous gases.

“These hoods will also provide firefighters with vital extra time to consider their priorities and plan the safest exit route, as opposed to simply getting people out as quickly as possible.

“Fire crews have been trained in their use and we think the money we’ve spent on them is a relatively small price to pay for something which has the potential to save someone’s life.”

More than 100 of the hoods have been bought, under a National Fire Chief’s Council procurement framework.

Smoke hoods are amongst the innovations fire and rescue services were recommended to adopt following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

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Three South Yorkshire fire service staff named in national honours list

Three fire and rescue staff from South Yorkshire are named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.

Control room operator Jess Grayson has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

She was named a BEM for services to mental health, having used her own mental health experiences to spearhead attempts to tackle the wellbeing issues firefighters and other emergency services workers face.

Alongside her day-to-day duties in the control room Jess, a Watch Manager, also trained resilience staff brought in to support the service’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fleur Holland and Alex Johnson are the other members of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue staff to have received honours, each being named recipients of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

During the pandemic, Watch Manager Fleur used her role within the service’s community safety team to help coordinate the delivery of hundreds of food parcels and thousands of prescriptions to people with no other means of support.

Acutely aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the mental health younger people, she also used her role as one of the service’s youth engagement leads to organise a fundraising challenge for the service’s fire cadets. This was as a way of getting the young cadets, some of whom come from vulnerable backgrounds, to channel their physical and mental energy into something positive. The ‘999 challenge’ she inspired was adopted by fire cadets branches nationally and has raised more than £6,000 for The Fire Fighter’s Charity.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson has led the county’s fire and rescue service throughout the pandemic, after becoming South Yorkshire’s first female Chief Fire Officer in 2020.

She joined joined Derbyshire Fire & Rescue as a firefighter in 1992, serving at stations across the county during a successful career in which she rose to the rank of Area Manager. She joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017 as Assistant Chief Fire Officer, before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer and then Chief Fire Officer.

For many years, Alex has been a member of the Executive Committee of Women in the Fire Service, a national network which supports the development of women in the fire sector. In 2019 she was named the ‘most influential woman in fire’ by FIRE magazine.

Outstanding men and women from fire and rescue services right across the United Kingdom are nominated to receive national honours each year, although only a tiny proportion of those nominations are successful.

For more information on the honours system, visit the government website here.

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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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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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