South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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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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Service launches ‘trailblazing’ virtual safety check service

Artificial intelligence is set to supercharge the way safety advice is delivered to the public, following the launch of a new service by fire officers in South Yorkshire.

Today, Wednesday 21 July, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has launched a brand new system that allows local residents to get a virtual fire safety check from the comfort of their own homes.

All people have to do is text a number from their mobile phones, or scan a QR code, and they will be asked a series of questions on things such as smoke alarms and electricals.

They will be walked through the whole process by an artificial intelligence system that will give immediate feedback and, if necessary, ask them to book an in-person safety visit.

As well as asking questions and giving feedback, the system will urge participants to check various appliances around the home and ensure they are safe with things such as ovens.

It’s thought that this virtual check is the first of its kind not only for the UK fire services, but for fire services right across the world, and fire officers believe it will help them them on their mission to make South Yorkshire as safe from fire as possible.

“We are really excited about this new feature and know it’s going to make thousands of people safer in their homes – which is what our service is all about,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“These virtual checks will allow people to assess their own fire risk and get potentially life-saving safety advice, all through a mobile phone, and in the comfort of their own homes.

“To be clear, we have no intention of using this new technology to replace or reduce our current in-person home safety check provision – this is vital work which we will carry on.

“The virtual check service is an extra string to our community safety bow which is ideal for households who are generally at low risk from fire, but would still like some reassurance.

“I’d encourage everyone to scan the code or text the number and answer the different questions you are sent – as well as giving immediate feedback the system will also tell you if we think you need an in-person check from our crews.”

It’s estimated the check will take people around five minutes to complete and advice will be offered on any areas where there are causes for concern.

Should the system feel the person is high risk and in need of an in-person visit, they will be invited to request one via the service’s website.

The virtual safety check has been developed in partnership with Hello Lamp Post, a company specialising in using artificial intelligence to support public sector organisations and the communities they serve.

“We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with a Fire and Rescue Service – and we’re delighted that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue are the first to start this journey with us,” said Tiernan Mines, CEO & Co-Founder at Hello Lamp Post.

“It’s brilliant to see the service embracing innovative digital tools to support its community, and we look forward to helping them take their engagement and communication to the next level.”

You can access the service by messaging ‘HELLO FIRE SERVICE’ to 07862 126663.

You can find out more about Hello Lamp Post on their website, here. 

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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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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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Firefighters to start delivering vaccines across Sheffield

Firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) will be supporting Sheffield GP practices by delivering COVID-19 vaccines.

This comes just over a month after a number of fire service volunteers were trained up as vaccinators by St John Ambulance, and is part of a huge national effort from fire services across the country to help with the pandemic response.

The agreement – struck by Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson, and leaders at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group – will see firefighters and fire service support staff giving vaccinations at practices across the city.

Fire and rescue staff have already delivered more than 250,000 vaccines nationally, but local bosses say they are keen to get this number even higher and help protect people across South Yorkshire from the virus.

“Our purpose is to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger, which is why since the start of the pandemic we have stood ready, willing and able to help in any way we can,” said the service’s Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson.

“So far we have delivered food and medicine to isolated people, distributed 1.3 million pieces of PPE to frontline health workers and worked with military planners to identify vaccination sites, but we want to do more.

“That’s why we have supported our staff to get vaccinator training, thanks to St John Ambulance, and why we have offered our help to the CCG in Sheffield.

“The vaccination programme is a huge national effort and, whilst I’m really proud that my staff have stood up and offered to contribute, I’m not at all surprised – as a service we exist to help people in need and that is exactly what we are doing here.”

Alun Windle, Chief Nurse and Covid Vaccination Lead at NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “We are really pleased to have South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service on board helping deliver the vaccination programme in Sheffield.

“Vaccines offer us the best chance of returning to normal and relaxing lockdown restrictions for good, it’s vital we keep on vaccinating people. The support from SYFR will help us reach the target to offer all adults their first vaccination by 31 July.”

The request for support from SYFR came from the CCG at a meeting of the South Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum on Thursday 27 May.

The forum is made up of public agencies from right across South Yorkshire – including fire, police and health services – and members have met every week since the start of the pandemic to co-ordinate the local response.

People aged 30 and over are now being invited for vaccination, if you’re aged 30 and over have yet to have your vaccination you can book online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by contacting 119. If you’re aged over 50, have a long term condition or are a health and social care worker you can also contact your GP to book.

The service’s core 999 response will not be affected by this work.

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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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Fire station to be base for new Ambulance response point

Ambulance crews have started responding to 999 calls from a fire station in Doncaster where a new local ambulance response point has been located.

Following a year of planning and preparation between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the construction of a multi-use Portakabin has been completed on site at Rossington fire station. The Portakabin, which is now fully operational, will act as a base for ambulance crews working in and around the Rossington area.

Located within the grounds of the fire station, it provides local ambulance crews with an additional base for mobilisation to incidents and facilities for staff to take rest breaks.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Group Manager, Shayne Tottie said: “Providing Yorkshire Ambulance Service with this space to operate from is a great asset for the village of Rossington as well as surrounding areas. It will provide ambulance crews with access to welfare facilities whilst ensuring the best operational coverage possible.

“There are a number of similar set-ups in South Yorkshire, including the facilities available at Edlington and Adwick fire stations and this is just one of the many ways that we are continuing to support our partner services in the region.”

Jackie Cole, Head of Operations (South Yorkshire) at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, commented:  “The new facility in Rossington is the latest addition to our hub and spoke network in Doncaster and joins similar local ambulance response points at Bentley, Hatfield, Adwick and Edlington and our main hub in Clay Lane West.  We are pleased to have worked in partnership with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and are very grateful for their support to get everything up and running.”

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 and this is another success in achieving that duty.

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Services come together to offer blue light advice for road users

Fire services across Yorkshire are re-iterating their advice to road users on what to do when coming across blue light vehicles, with more cars now on the roads due to lockdown restrictions easing.

Stay calm, pull over safely and give as much room as possible is the key message from the four brigades – South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside.

Drivers are also being urged not to perform emergency stops in the middle of a road. This, the services say, can end up slowing emergency vehicles down or even bring them to a complete halt.

“People’s response to blue light vehicles is generally amazing, and I thank anyone who has ever pulled over to let us pass, but it’s really important that people do it in the right way,” said South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Station Manager, Wayne Sutcliffe.

“The last thing we need when trying to get to an incident is a collision with a vehicle so, with more cars now returning to our roads due to lockdown restrictions easing, we thought this would be a pretty good time to re-iterate our advice.

“Our key ask is that people stay calm and pull over safely to give us a route through but, as well as being safe, it’s important people follow the Highway Code too – mounting kerbs is definitely not advised, nor is crossing double white lines or going through red lights.

“There’s a really good Blue Light Aware video that explains the reasoning behind all of these things and I’d highly recommend all drivers take a few minutes to watch and understand it.”

The Highway Code states that drivers should give way to blue light vehicles but should avoid moving through a red light, moving into a bus lane or entering a yellow box junction.

Motorists are also advised not to tailgate blue light vehicles once they have passed as this puts the driver, other road users and those within the emergency vehicle at risk.

“Really this is about being calm and sensible. We need room, and we need to get through, but we don’t need or want people breaking laws and crashing their cars,” Wayne added.

“What we also need is for people to park sensibly, too. Double parking can be a huge problem, particularly for the fire service, and I’d encourage everyone to just stop and think, each time they pull up, whether or not we’d be able to get through the gap they’re leaving.”

The Blue Light Aware video, produced by GEM Motoring Assist, can be viewed on their website – here: www.bluelightaware.org.uk.

It is widely regarded by police, fire and ambulance services across the country as an essential watch for all UK motorists.

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