Fire service staff call out hurtful comments in defiant new video

South Yorkshire’s fire service is taking a stand against online trolls in a bid to show support to its staff, and communities, during LGBT+ History Month.

This comes in the form of a defiant new video that has been launched today, Monday 3 February, featuring some of the service’s employees.

It shows the staff members reading out some of the abusive, hurtful and homophobic comments made by people on Facebook after the organisation added a rainbow to its profile picture during Pride Month last June.

The service, which strives to be a diverse and inclusive employer, says it wants to show its LGBT+ staff, and communities, that they are valued and supported.

“We fully expect the video will have a mixed reaction but some of the comments we received last year were awful and totally unacceptable,” said Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson.

“We’ve produced it for two reasons – firstly we wanted to support the month and let our staff, and communities, know that we are proud to employ and serve them, regardless of those comments.

“And secondly we wanted to demonstrate that we are a genuinely inclusive organisation that values the contribution of all our staff, whatever their LGBT+ status.

“I’d encourage anyone considering a career in the fire service, especially those who may be inspired by our work around LGBT History Month, to register their interest on our website.”

Firefighters, control operators and support staff all feature in the video – which includes 11 employees reading 11 different comments.

The production is being supplemented by another video produced by the service, this one being specifically for staff and based on LGBT+ history.

Crew Manager Rebecca Savin, who is the South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union LGBT Rep, hopes that the service’s stance will not only allow staff to bring their authentic selves to work but also encourage more people from the LGBT+ community to consider fire service careers.

She said: “We’ve come a long way recently in terms of diversity but there’s still more to do. It really is important that our workforce truly represents all of the communities we serve and visible acts of support like this can mean a lot to sometimes marginalised groups.”

“From a staff perspective I’m really pleased with the video. It’s great that, as an employer, SYFR wants to challenge these comments and stand up for its staff and the people it serves.”

Anyone who wants to register their interest in a job with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can do so at www.syfire.gov.uk/jobs.

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Residents feel safer in their homes following fire service checks

Analysis of the home safety checks carried out by fire service staff has revealed overwhelming resident satisfaction levels, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can reveal.

According to the service, which has completed 15,000 such checks so far this year, 96 percent of people are left satisfied following one of the visits.

The research has also shown that, whilst 55 percent of people rated their home safe before a home safety check, 97 percent rated it safe after the check – a 42 percent increase.

A third of people then said that they would take action, following the visit, to make their home safer – should any issues have been identified.

“We’re really pleased with the results of this research as it reaffirms what we already suspected – that our staff are delivering an outstanding service,” said Area Manager Simon Dunker, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“Beyond the satisfaction scores, though, the pleasing thing is that people are feeling safer in their homes after we’ve visited, and are taking action to reduce their risks.

“Reviewing our work, and making sure we’re doing a good job, is really important to us. It is part of striving to be the best we can be and is something we will continue to do.

“I’d encourage anyone who feels they are at particular risk of fire to get in touch with us and arrange a visit as soon as possible. The same goes for family members who you think would benefit.”

Researchers also identified that householders don’t just keep the knowledge to themselves, but share it between friends and family too, with 50 percent of people saying they had passed on some of the advice following their visit.

The study, which was conducted by the University of Sheffield in conjunction with the fire and rescue service, involved telephone interviews with 234 people being asked questions about their own home safety check experience.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue offers home safety checks free for people who meet its set criteria – this can include living alone, being over a certain age or having a hearing impairment.

They involve firefighters or community safety staff giving advice on how to make a home safer and what to do in the event of a fire. They may also involve smoke alarms being fitted, if needed.

Visits can be booked at www.syfire.gov.uk or by calling 0114 253 2314.

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Business Fire Safety – quiz for owners and responsible persons

Do you run or manage a business?

Are you aware of your fire safety responsibilities?

Take our fire safety quiz below to test your knowledge.

Business Fire Safety Quiz

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Stand By Your Pan – cooking fire safety quiz

We’ve just launched a brand new cooking fire safety campaign. Why? Because we’ve had 4,000 cooking related incidents over the last four years, and we want to reduce that.

We’re asking people to #StandByTheirPan as, according to our research, most of the cooking fires we attend involve some sort of distraction or carelessness.

As part of the campaign we’ve created the below safety quiz. We’ve got £100 worth of Amazon vouchers up for grabs. We estimate it will take two minutes to complete – what are you waiting for?

This isn’t the only way you can get involved in our campaign, neither. We’re inviting children to design us a cooking fire safety poster. The winners stand to win a LEGO fire station set. You can download the entry form here. 

#StandByYourPan - Cooking Fire Safety Quiz

  • This form collects some personal information - which will be used to contact the randomly selected quiz winner and subsequently be destroyed. By submitting the form you are agreeing for your data to be used in this way.
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Firefighters make ‘Stand By Your Pan’ plea in latest safety push

People across South Yorkshire are being urged to stand by their pans as part of a new safety campaign that aims to drive down cooking fires.

This comes as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue reveals it has attended over 1,000 cooking related incidents in the last four years – with cooking being a leading cause of accidental house fire.

The latest campaign, which will be running across Christmas and into the New Year, urges people to resist the temptation to leave the room and get distracted whilst cooking.

It is being launched today, Friday 22 November, with the help of pupils at Mosborough Primary School in Sheffield – who have starred in a brand new flagship campaign video.

“We know that cooking is the leading cause of house fire in South Yorkshire. That is a fact and is something we want to change,” said Area Manager Simon Dunker, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“It was responsible for half of all accidental house fires last year. Many of these incidents could have been prevented by taking some really simple steps.

“We’re not asking a lot, as we know people lead busy lives, but literally standing by your pan can reduce the chance you’re going to have a kitchen fire.

“In turn, that reduces the chances that you, or the kids, are going to get hurt. Or, as a more common outcome, that you are going to have to fork out thousands of pounds for a new kitchen.”

Firefighters are offering three key bits of advice as part of the campaign:

  • Never leave the room whilst you are cooking food
  • Keep your oven clean and don’t leave stuff on top, or inside
  • Test your smoke alarms!

As part of the planning process, the service analysed a random selection of cooking fires from across South Yorkshire.

Out of those looked at, over half involved food being left on too long and forgotten about. A smoke logged kitchen, and damaged equipment, was the most common outcome.

Other causes involved stuff being left on top of the hob, dirty ovens or chip pans.

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Firework displays across South Yorkshire – dates, times and locations!

We want the people of South Yorkshire to be safe this bonfire period – which is why we advise you to attend organised bonfires and firework displays instead of doing your own.

Why? Because they’re cheaper, safer and far more spectacular. We’ve compiled a list of the big displays in South Yorkshire to help you decide.

Have we missed yours? Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or email – press@syfire.gov.uk.

Sheffield

Annual Bonfire & Fireworks Display – 20th Sheffield Scout Group

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 7pm until 10pm
  • The Common Land, S11 7TG

After Dark – Yorkshire’s biggest fireworks spectacular

  • Tuesday 5 November
  • 5.30pm until 10pm
  • Don Valley Grass Bowl, S9 2DF

British Oak – Firework spectacular

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 5pm until 10pm – children’s display at 6.30pm and fireworks at 7.45pm
  • The British Oak, S20 5AY

Illuminate The Gardens – a magical night for the whole family!

  • Friday 1 November – Sunday 3 November
  • Sheffield Botanical Gardens, S10 2LN

Rotherham

Park View – Annual firework display

  • Sunday 3 November
  • 5pm until midnight – display at 7pm
  • Park View Bar & Function Suite

Brinsworth – Parish Council fireworks display

  • Saturday 2 November
  • Entrance closes at 6.45pm – kick off at 7pm
  • The Pavillion, Field View, S60 5DG

Doncaster

Big Bang – Doncaster’s biggest firework display

  • Tuesday 5 November
  • 5pm start – main display at 8.45pm
  • Keepmoat Stadium, DN4 5JW

Doncaster Racecourse – Firework spectacular

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 4pm until 8.30pm
  • Doncaster Racecourse, DN2 6BB

Doncaster Lawn Tennis Club – Annual bonfire and firework display

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 6.30pm bonfire, 7.30 pm fireworks
  • Doncaster Lawn Tennis Club, DN4 7AY

Rossington Parish Fireworks

  • Tuesday 5 November
  • Starts at 7.30pm
  • Rossington Miners Welfare, DN11 0DU

Barnsley

Penistone – Bonfire and firework display

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 6.30pm start – fireworks at 7.30pm
  • Penistone Showground, S36 6DW

Crown & Anchor – Firework spectacular

  • Saturday 2 November
  • 5pm until 10pm – children’s display at 6.30pm and firework spectacular at 7.45pm
  • Crown & Anchor Inn, Barnsley, S75 1LL

Cannon Hall Farm – Farm, bonfire and firework spectacular

  • Sunday 3 November
  • 5pm bonfire, 6.30pm fireworks
  • Cannon Hall Farm, S75 4AT
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Emergency services ask for public help over dark nights period

Fire service advice during the dark nights period:

  • Attend organised bonfire and firework displays – they are cheaper and more spectacular than doing your own
  • Keep your wheelie bins in and clean any loose rubbish off the streets
  • In the event you are having your own bonfire – call it in beforehand to our control room on 0114 275 6839

A campaign is being launched today (Friday 25 October) to keep people safe and reduce demand on our emergency services across South Yorkshire, during the Halloween and bonfire period.

South Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Yorkshire Ambulance Service run operation Dark Nights jointly each year.

The campaign has already seen police and fire officers visiting schools over the past few weeks to educate children on staying safe, and during and over the holiday and bonfire period, will see officers patrolling hot spot areas.

The services are asking people across the county to be 999 wise – especially on bonfire night – to help keep their resources free for genuine emergencies.

For the police, this means only calling 999 if you are experiencing an emergency or someone’s life is in danger and using alternative ways to report non-emergency crime.

Superintendent Sarah Poolman said: “Your neighbourhood teams will be out and about in the evenings throughout this period, working hard to make sure that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe time.

However, this is an extremely busy time for officers and our call takers in the control room and we are therefore asking our communities to help us ensure we are able to respond to the people who need us the most by thinking before you call 999 or 101.

“Our call takers have to prioritise the calls coming into our control room. So if you are wanting to report a non-emergency crime, please make use of online reporting on our website- https://www.southyorks.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/.”

Whereas fire officers are asking people to ring the service’s control room to tell them about planned bonfires – to avoid unnecessary calls during the bonfire period.

The fire service is also urging people to attend organised fireworks displays, which they say are safer and more spectacular, rather than having their own.

“Each year we get a small spike in incidents on, and around, bonfire night. We want to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger, so this is clearly something we’re keen to tackle,” said Station Manager Steve Jones, who works within the joint fire and police community safety department.

“We know, from last year’s incident analysis, how this spike happened, and have identified three things the public can do to help us reduce incidents and keep people safe.

“Firstly, make sure your bins are in and there’s no loose rubbish on your street that could be set alight. Secondly, if you are having a bonfire, make sure you stay with it and keep it in hand.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, by letting our control room staff know you’re having a bonfire you can potentially reduce the amount of times we get called out to garden bonfires.

“The people that call these in are well meaning callers, and we’d always encourage people to call 999 if they discover a fire or need our help, but if we know you’re having a bonfire we will know not to send firefighters to spoil your party.”

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Campaign effort helps drive down summer fires

A campaign that asked people to help reduce small fires during the summer has helped cut incidents by a quarter, the fire service has revealed.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue launched its ‘Do Your Bit’ campaign on Monday 22 July – to tie in with the six week school holidays when there is normally a spike in incidents.

The service asked people to play their part in reducing secondary fires – which involve grass, rubbish, bins and other non-insurable property – during a traditionally busy summer period.

And according to fire service analysis, the 744 of these fires that crews attended during the Do Your Bit campaign period is a 26 percent reduction compared to the average across the last three years.

“We’re prepared to deal with all eventualities but endless summer fires can be really frustrating for us. We want to be available to help people who are in real, life-threatening situations,” said T/Group Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“Through this campaign we wanted to show the public that we were taking this issue seriously, but our core aim was to reduce these fires altogether. Clearly we’re really pleased with the result.

“This is another example of our commitment to making South Yorkshire safer and stronger and is credit to the commitment of our staff. A lot of work went into this incident reduction, with staff from various departments involved, and this work will continue.”

The campaign asked the public to help tackle arson, in particular, by taking specific action to shut down opportunities for people to start fires.

This included not leaving wheelie bins out overnight, keeping streets and gardens clear of loose rubbish and reporting details of arson to police via the 101 service.

“We knew before the campaign started what the root causes were, so we set out to tackle those. We wanted people to remove the opportunities for fires to start,” added Matt.

According to the service’s analysis, the three year average for secondary fires between 22 July and 22 September is 1007 – compared to the 744 calls dealt with this summer.

Deliberate secondary fires specifically dropped by 23 percent, going from a three year average of 802 to 620 this year.

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Fire service launches staff exhibition to mark Black History Month

An exhibition that pays homage to, and highlights, the diverse heritage of fire service staff has been unveiled today (Monday 30 September).

The showcase has been organised by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as part of Black History Month and celebrates the achievements of staff with African and Caribbean heritage.

It features portrait photographs of 11 employees past and present – ranging from retired firefighters to support staff – that will be exhibited at various locations across Sheffield.

These locations include the Winter Gardens, Moor Market and Sheffield Train Station, with the service hoping the display will inspire the next generation of firefighters.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our staff, and their rich heritage, and wanted to do something special to celebrate their contributions to the service and those we serve,” said Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson.

“We also wanted to show support to the Black History Month initiative and South Yorkshire’s black communities, at the same time as showing that anyone can be anything in the fire service – regardless of their background.

“The exhibition is about recognising staff of the past, and present, and inspiring the next generation of firefighters, as we strive to ensure our workforce fully reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.”

The photos have been taken by Orestes Rix, a member of the service’s finance team who specialises in portrait photography outside of his day job.

They have been printed onto foam boards and will be showcased on easels as they travel round the city. Their first outing will be at a launch event hosted at the Showroom Workstation, on Paternoster Row.

One of the staff members featured is Elm Lane Station Manager, Delroy Galloway, who has helped organise the exhibition as well as being photographed.

He said: “Over the last few years we’ve done some amazing work around supporting underrepresented groups within the fire service, so it’s really good to be able to carry that work on and get behind Black History Month in a meaningful way.

“People with African and Carribean backgrounds are currently underrepresented within the fire service nationally. We aim to change that through projects such as this one, as well as shine a light on some very deserving colleagues.”

The exhibition will visit the following locations, on the following dates:

Ponds Forge: Tuesday 1 – Sunday 6 October
Winter Gardens: Monday 7 – Tuesday 8 October
Moor Market: Wednesday 9 – Wednesday 16 October
Sheffield Train Station: Thursday 17 – Thursday 24 October

You can see the photos below:

Details on each person, and more about this project, can be found in this booklet.

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Surge in home safety check referrals following older person campaign

A campaign to make older people across South Yorkshire safer has contributed to a huge increase in home safety check bookings, according to the fire service.

Find The Time, the latest safety push from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, was launched on Mother’s Day earlier this year.

It encouraged people with friends, relatives and neighbours over 60 to pay them a visit and make sure they were OK and safe from fire.

It also asked partner agencies to consider whether the people they were dealing with, be it for health or housing reasons, needed a visit from fire crews.

Driven by data that showed most people dying in accidental house fires were over 60-years-old, the campaign ran throughout April, May, June and July.

The service received 2433 home safety check referrals from partner agencies during that time – 736 and 43 per cent more than the previous year.

There was also an increase in the number of visits organised following calls, from the public, into the service’s hotline – 189 more than the previous year.

This resulted in a 41 per cent increase in the number of home safety checks completed compared to last year – 3941 to 5560.

“A big part of making South Yorkshire safer and stronger means focusing our efforts on those who need us the most, which is what this campaign was all about,” said Group Manager Simon Dunker, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“To see such a big increase in home safety check referrals, from partners and the public, is a really good outcome for us. It means we can get into people’s homes and minimise, as much as possible, their risk of having a fire.

“And whilst the campaign might be over, the message still stands, as our figures show that people over 60-years-old tend to be more at risk of fire. Check up on your loved ones, make sure they’re OK and if you have any fire safety concerns, get in touch.”

As part of the campaign, the fire service developed a ‘grandparent check’ that helps people ascertain whether or not their relatives are at risk.

The check asks about things such as smoking, mobility issues and living alone – all three of which can increase someone’s risk of fire.

For more information visit our dedicated Find The Time page.

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