I pledge not to have a garden fire during the on-going pandemic…

#KeepFireSafe - Garden Fire Pledge

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) on its way to South Yorkshire social care teams

A delivery of personal protective equipment which arrived in South Yorkshire yesterday, is now on its way to social care teams across the county.

Hundreds of thousands of pieces of kit including aprons, gloves and masks were delivered to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s training centre in Sheffield yesterday afternoon (Monday 6 April).

It was there that military planners and fire and rescue service staff broke down the supplies and delivered them to the local authorities in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield for distribution to front line workers.

The equipment had been sent to South Yorkshire from the government’s national distribution centre.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson said: “Workers are right on the frontline of caring for some of the most vulnerable and isolated people in our communities, so we were pleased to be able to play a small part in getting this equipment to the staff who need it.

“I’m proud of our staff for stepping up at short notice to make it happen and understanding the important role the fire and rescue service can play in supporting our partners and our communities.”

South Yorkshire’s response to the pandemic is being coordinated as a collective effort by multiple agencies, including emergency services, health bodies and local authorities.

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Firefighters support ambulance service

Yorkshire Ambulance Service welcomes additional COVID-19 support from fire and rescue colleagues.

Firefighter colleagues from the region’s four fire and rescue services will be joining Yorkshire Ambulance Service to provide additional support during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The 48 volunteers (12 from each fire and rescue service – North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside) will be carrying out tasks including driving ambulances and other support roles.

This move follows a recent agreement between the National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union to support local authorities and the NHS.

Our staff training with Yorkshire Ambulance staff

Commenting on this development, Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We have always enjoyed a close working relationship with our fire and rescue service colleagues through the many incidents we attend jointly on a daily basis and through our collaborative approach to large scale emergency situations.

“During this unprecedented period, and arguably the greatest challenge the NHS has ever faced, we are extremely grateful for the additional support being provided by the region’s fire and rescue services. It means that we will have greater flexibility and resilience in our approach over the coming weeks to ensure patients receive the care they need.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson commented: “As a service we are here to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger. We could not be more willing, and able, to help out in any way we can during these extremely challenging times.

“Our firefighters are trained to an extremely high standard. They have a huge amount of experience in driving blue light vehicles and are very well respected in their local communities. I’m hugely proud of them all and know they will do a fantastic job when called upon.”

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Fire service calls for sensible approach to garden fires

South Yorkshire’s firefighters are calling on people across the county to use ‘common sense’ when lighting garden fires during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue comes as they, and other fire services nationally, have seen an increase in garden fire call-outs over the last two weeks.

These incidents, they say, could potentially slow their response to a more serious incident and hamper their ability to help their communities in other ways during these difficult times.

“First and foremost, we don’t want to take away from the most important message right now – stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“What we do want to do, though, is keep our firefighters free not only for real, life-threatening emergencies, and for the extra work that they are starting to take on during this pandemic.

“We appreciate people are generating more rubbish by staying at home, and that disposal options are more limited right now, which is why some people are lighting garden fires.

“Ideally people wouldn’t do this at all, given that they can so easily get out of control, put people at risk and tie up our firefighters.

“But if people must have a fire in their garden, please do not leave them unattended, keep them away from sheds, trees and fences and have a bucket of water nearby.

“Please also consider your neighbours. Smoke can be a real nuisance and this is especially the case if you’re trying to enjoy some fresh air, or it’s blowing into your home.”

The service is also calling on people to be vigilant around deliberate fire-setting – with a particular plea going out to parents with teenage children.

“As well as an increase in garden fires we’ve seen a rise in deliberate fires, too. That is basically people setting fire to cars, rubbish, bins and other stuff.

“Whilst we sympathise with the people whose home’s we’ve attended to extinguish a garden fire, we really have no tolerance for those setting fire to things on purpose.

“At quite a lot of these deliberate incidents we’ve seen groups of young people running away upon our arrival so, if you’ve got kids that are still going out, please talk to them about the consequences of actions like this.”

Last week it was announced that a tri-party agreement had been struck for firefighters across the country to take on additional duties during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This will see crews across South Yorkshire potentially driving ambulances, delivering care packages to the most vulnerable and transporting bodies.

The extra efforts coincide with South Yorkshire’s new safety campaign, #KeepFireSafe, which has been launched in light of the pandemic.

More information on this campaign, how people can stay safe and get involved, can be found at www.syfire.gov.uk.

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Shout- stories of fire service life savers

In South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s first podcast series, firefighters and control room staff from across the service talk about lifesaving incidents they’ve dealt with. They also talk about their careers, the teams they are proud to be a part of and what it feels like to have helped to save a life.

Kirsty

In our debut episode, we meet Kirsty Wright- a full time firefighter at Birley Moor fire station in Sheffield and an on-call firefighter at Stocksbridge fire station in the city.

Kirsty- a Watch Manager- describes what it’s like to lead a crew of firefighters and the teamwork involved in responding to emergency incidents.

Plus, hear her describe the moment she helped to save a life, when she gave first aid to a woman who had been carried out of a burning building.

Listen to the episode here

Adam

Say hello to Adam Dilkes- a crew manager at Rotherham fire station.

Adam has been a firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for 12 years.

We speak to him about what it feels like to attend an incidents where someone’s life was at
risk, how it feels to come away from something as dramatic as that and what it means to him
to be in a job where he can make a real difference.

He also talks us through an incident where he and his crew rescued a man and their dogs
from a serious house fire in Rotherham.

Listen to the episode here

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Service pledges support following national pandemic agreement

South Yorkshire’s firefighters will be able to deliver food and drive ambulances in order to support their communities during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes following an unprecedented national agreement that has been struck by fire chiefs, national employers and representative bodies such as the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Crews will also be able to retrieve dead bodies, as part of the deal, whilst continuing to do their core duty – responding to emergency incidents such as fires and road traffic collisions.

The additional work will be co-ordinated and done in conjunction with the South Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum – with the temporary agreement lasting for an initial two-month period.

“As a service we are here to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger. We could not be more willing, and able, to help out in any way we can during these extremely challenging times,” said Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson.

“Our firefighters are trained to an extremely high standard. They have a huge amount of experience in driving blue light vehicles and are very well respected in their local communities. I’m hugely proud of them all and know they will do a fantastic job if called upon.

“When this is over, and it will be over, we want to know that we did everything we could to support our communities. Now, more than ever, is the time to come together. It is great to see that the three groups, nationally, have done exactly that.”

Any extra activities that firefighters are asked to undertake will be done on a voluntary basis and will be fully risk assessed – with crews being given any necessary training and personal protective equipment.

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Home Safety Checks – reduction during pandemic

Much like other services across the country, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue took the difficult decision recentlyc to suspend all but immediately high-risk community safety activity.

This is due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and includes most of our home safety visits, safe and well checks, school visits and station-based events.

The joint police and fire Lifewise Centre is also closed, until further notice, and fire station community rooms are no longer being used by our partner agencies.

Whilst we strive to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger, through our wide ranging partnership and prevention work, these measures are required to safeguard our staff.

It is, during this difficult time, vitally important that our firefighters and control operators are kept fit and ready to respond to 999 emergencies.

Members of the public, and especially our partners, are still encouraged to make referrals through our website but please expect a delay in our response to these.

We will endeavour to complete them all as soon as it is safe, and possible, to do so. Until this point there is a range of safety information available on our website, here.

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Keep Fire Safe – children’s poster drawing contest

Home schooling? We’ve got you covered.

We’re launching a poster drawing competition for your youngsters and we have a load of LEGO prizes up for grabs.

We’ll be sharing as many entries as possible with our staff to help keep spirits up, too.

All we want your youngsters to do is get a piece of A4 paper and draw us a firefighter, fire engine or fire station.

They must also include at least one of the below safety messages:

  • don’t forget about your cooking!
  • don’t leave clothes near electric heaters
  • don’t use broken electrical items
  • test your smoke alarms!

When they’ve done just add their name, age, a grown-up’s name and their contact details. Either DM us a photo or email one to press@syfire.gov.uk.

Winners will be picked in May. We look forward to seeing the entries!

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Fire service offers safety advice in light of virus pandemic

South Yorkshire’s firefighters are calling on people to take extra steps to keep themselves safe from fire, following the Government’s recent announcements on social distancing.

They say that, with thousands across the county expected to either self-isolate, work from home or generally stay away from others, it’s never been more important to think about fire safety.

And despite the fact that crews are continuing to respond to 999 emergencies as normal, senior fire officers are keen to limit potentially avoidable call outs.

“We’re certainly not trying to panic anyone here – nor take away from the very important health advice – as our firefighters are continuing to respond to calls as normal,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“What we are doing, though, is asking people who are spending more time than normal at home to have a think about fire safety and take on board some of our advice.

“Simple steps – like making sure you’ve got working smoke alarms – can make a huge difference in terms of how safe you and your family are at home.”

The service has boiled its top tips down to four key things – based on the leading causes of accidental house fire across South Yorkshire:

  1. Don’t leave cooking unattended and stop using chip pans – oven chips are safer
  2. Don’t leave clothes/towels near heaters, hobs, or candles
  3. Make sure your electrical items are in working order and don’t use faulty white goods
  4. Make sure you have working smoke alarms and test them weekly

As part of a new ‘Keep Fire Safe’ campaign – which has been developed in light of the pandemic – fire service staff will be posting safety advice booklets, through letterboxes, to homes in certain areas across the county in the coming weeks.

The campaign will also see the launch of a poster drawing competition for kids – with schools now closed for the foreseeable future – and an online safety quiz. Both of which give entrants the chance to win prizes for their efforts.

A specific home safety web page has also been set up, dedicated to people who are self-isolating, working from home and generally social distancing, at www.syfire.gov.uk/keepfiresafe.

“We’d love to see as many people take part in these two competitions as possible. Not only will it give the kids something to do, it will open up really important conversations about fire safety,” added Matt.

“Hopefully we can put a smile on some faces, too. We’ve got prizes on offer for both kids and adults which should be reason enough for people to enter!”

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New Deputy Chief Fire Officer for South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority (SYFRA) has appointed a new Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

Chris Kirby was appointed following a selection process which included a written application, leadership team presentation, interview by staff group and trade union representatives and panel interview with members of the Fire Authority.

Barnsley-born Chris will join South Yorkshire later this spring from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, which he first joined as a firefighter in 1998.

The married father-of-three’s roles in West Yorkshire included acting as a breathing apparatus instructor, commanding the Kirklees district and taking charge of the service’s response and prevention work. He also led the service’s business fire safety work in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The former Wath Comprehensive School pupil also represented Rotherham at waterpolo for many years, winning the British Championships in 2008.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said: “This was a really competitive process, but the whole panel was greatly impressed by Chris’ forward thinking and people centred approach. We are proud of the South Yorkshire’s reputation as being amongst the leading fire and rescue service’s in the country and we are confident this appointment will help the service to continually improve its service to the public.”

Chris said, “I am really pleased to be joining South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue. To be able to serve the communities where I grew up is a huge privilege and I look forward to meeting the people that make the service what it is. I have always been impressed with the people I have met and I hope to support the service in being a great place to work and to deliver an outstanding service to the communities of South Yorkshire.”

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