South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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High volume pumps deployed to support removal of surface water in Sykehouse

Firefighters are deploying two high volume pumps to Sykehouse in Doncaster in a bid to aid the removal of surface water which is currently lying on flood plains in the area.

River levels in the area are falling and existing drainage pumping arrangements are working well.

However, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has deployed the pumps- one of which is being sent by Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue- to support the speedy removal of the water and to help reassure communities living nearby.

The fire service has been working with Doncaster Council and the Environment Agency on the deployment says it expects to be in the area for around 48 hours.

Campaign launched to curb South Yorkshire cooking fires

Firefighters are urging people to stop leaving their cooking unattended in a bid to crack down on house fires across the county.

New figures, released by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, show that half of all house fires across South Yorkshire last year started in the kitchen.

An even deeper look into the issue, fire officers say, shows that the majority of these fires could be prevented and start when people leave pans on the hob or food in the oven.

The service is now appealing to people across Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster to ‘stand by your pan’ to avoid a kitchen fire disaster.

As part of the campaign, officers are also asking people not to cook after consuming alcohol and, instead, get a takeaway.

“Public awareness and safety around house fires has increased dramatically in recent years but one bad habit we haven’t quite kicked, yet, is leaving cooking unattended,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety team.

“Pretty much every kitchen fire we attend originates from an oven or hob and, generally, the fires have started because something has been left on.

“Examples range from a cooker being left to pre-heat to somebody falling asleep whilst their food is cooking and, whilst we know it’s not usually intentional, fire happens fast.

“We don’t expect people to stare at their food whilst it cooks and clearly pre-heating an oven is fairly standard, this isn’t an issue.

“What’s an issue is where people leave the kitchen entirely and either forget that the cooker is on or get distracted with something else, such as the TV or having a quick shower.

“What’s also an issue is where people get in the kitchen and start cooking having had something to drink – this is never a good idea and often ends up in the worst kind of fires.”

The service’s new campaign comes off-the-back of a smoke alarm push in which firefighters urged people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home.

It’s based on figures that show there were 230 cooking fires, across South Yorkshire, in 2020 – making up 47 percent of the 491 house blazes attended by firefighters last year.

“Our message is really clear – don’t leave cooking unattended and don’t cook drunk. This isn’t just about reducing pressure on us, it’s about keeping yourself safe,” added Matt.

“What people often don’t realise is that getting hurt is just one risk when it comes to kitchen fires – very often you can escape harm but be left with a huge bill for redecorating.”

More information on cooking fire safety, and details of how to book a free fire service home safety visit, can be found on the service’s website, www.syfire.gov.uk.

Fire service’s pandemic response praised in South Yorkshire

A national inspection has praised the response of South Yorkshire’s fire service to the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue adapted to the pandemic effectively, carried on delivering its core services and provided additional support to the community during the first phase of the pandemic.

Inspectors also found that staff wellbeing was made a clear priority for the service and praised senior leaders for actively promoting wellbeing services, in a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) today.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson said: “I’m so incredibly proud of the way staff from right across the service have responded to a really difficult situation and I’m pleased that so much of their hard work has been recognised by inspectors.

“Right at the start of the pandemic, I asked my staff to stand up and be counted at a time of enormous national need. Whether it was delivering food and medicine to isolated, vulnerable people, delivering PPE to frontline health workers or volunteering to drive ambulances and fit face masks, they stepped up in a really big way.”

All fire and rescue services underwent a Covid-19 themed HMICFRS inspection to find out how well they had responded to the first stages of the pandemic.

Although they weren’t given a graded judgement, a written response highlighted areas of good work and areas for improvement.

“Whilst the pandemic has presented us with some obvious challenges and taken a terrible toll on our communities, like so many organisations it has also helped us to make massive leaps forward in terms of modernising our ways of working and planning for and responding to disruptive events such as this in the future. Our next task is to ensure all that learning and all those improvements are adopted longer term,” said Alex.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said: “This inspection was unique, Fire and Rescue Services are normally assessed against standardised and known criteria, the onset of the Covid 19 Pandemic meant our service was required to carry out many functions and tasks it wouldn’t normally be expected to undertake and inspectors considered how the service had met that challenge.

“It is clear from this report and indeed from our own observation as a Fire Authority, the service has responded strongly and selflessly. Every member of the service has shared the same terrible and frightening experience as the rest of us; but, from strategic leadership through to performing the most basic but ‘essential for someone’ task, they have met those additional challenges admirably. I’m immensely proud and humbled by their response and delighted that the inspectors offer the formal recognition they deserve.”

The findings have been published in a letter on the HMICFRS website, which is available here.

A separate HMICFRS inspection in 2019 rated South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue ‘good’ across all three judgement criteria.

Fire Authority approves response time arrangements

Councillors have approved a new set of response times for South Yorkshire’s fire service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as it possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make it more accountable to local people, helps it to improve its service and bring them in line with most other fire and rescue services around the country.

A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards, because it did not allow the service to measure its performance or give the public something in which they could hold the service to account.

The new response time arrangements take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Adopting a more risk based approach allows us to ensure we are placing resources in the right places at the right time to best protect the communities we serve. This includes the work we do around preventing fires, protecting buildings and responding to incidents when they do occur.

“We will still aim to get to each emergency as fast as we can, but having a set of response times means we can measure our performance to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to our communities with the resources we have available to us.”

The proposal to introduce response time standards followed consultation with nearly 4,000 local people and a thorough analysis of the different risks faced by the fire service in South Yorkshire.

They form part of the service’s latest draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’. This is a plan which explains the different risks in South Yorkshire how the fire service intends to address them with the resources it has available.

The service’s final plan was approved by members of the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (11 January).

Fire cadets spread joy over the festive period

Kind hearted fire cadets have been showered with praise after delivering Christmas gifts to care home residents across Barnsley.

The young people, who are based out of Cudworth and Dearne fire stations, funded the gifts with £600 they raised through donations and the sale of handmade Christmas cards.

They delivered around 200 presents in total to residents at four different care homes within the Barnsley district, dancing and singing along the way.

Then, with their first act of kindness done, they handed the remaining gifts out to members of their local community who were facing a lonely and isolated festive period.

Once they’d delivered the gifts they also took the time to talk to the residents and get them involved in a little sing-song – all in a COVID-secure way.

Some of the people they visited laughed, some even shed tears of joy. Others just smiled, said thank you and expressed their gratitude.

However they reacted, all of them were extremely touched by the gesture. That’s according to Watch Manager Fleur Holland, who has worked with the fire cadets on their project.

“I’m so proud of them all for what they have done – to raise £600 was one thing but to then buy and deliver around 200 gifts was an amazing gesture. Thinking about it still makes me emotional,” she added.

“The pandemic has limited what we can do but we refused to be beaten. It’s never been more important to share some Christmas joy and we’re glad, thanks to everyone who supported us, including our Chief Fire Officer, we’ve been able to do that.”

Courtney and Phoebe, from Cudworth, and Charlotte, Paige, Nicole and Lewis, from Dearne, are all part of the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Fire Cadets scheme.

The programme is run at stations across South Yorkshire for people aged between 13 and 18-years-old – it’s designed to build confidence and self-esteem, as well as practical skills.

Their latest effort, to raise the £600 for Christmas gifts, is the second fundraiser they’ve done this year. In May they raised £700 for The Fire Fighters Charity.

Prohibition Notice lifted on Wicker Riverside

The Prohibition Notice on Wicker Riverside Apartments has today been lifted, following the installation of a new alarm system.

All residents are now allowed back into the building and will be able to enjoy Christmas in their own homes.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Carlin said; “I would like to thank all the residents and the responsible person who have worked so well with our Fire Safety Inspectors and Sheffield City Council to enable the Prohibition Notice to be lifted in such a short amount of time.

“We are pleased that residents will now be able to spend Christmas in their own homes.”

Building Risk Review – frequently asked questions

What is the Building Risk Review programme?

This is a national effort, led by the Government, to make high-rise residential buildings safer, and give us a better understanding of high-rise residential buildings across the country. It has come off the back of the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster and is now in its second phase.

The first phase of the programme focused on Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding. This saw us, and other fire services right across the country, work with building owners to identify buildings with ACM cladding and report back to the Government.

The second phase, which began in October, involves the inspection of all high-rise residential buildings that are over 18 metres high or have six or more storeys. The target is for all buildings in South Yorkshire that fit this criteria to have been inspected by the end of December 2021.

You can you view the list buildings were are inspecting on our website here

What is the South Yorkshire Building Risk Review team?

This is the team, made up of experienced fire safety inspectors from within South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, that are carrying out these Building Risk Review (BRR) inspections.

They came together in October 2020, thanks to a specific grant from the Government, and have already started inspecting buildings that meet the criteria.

They have around 200 ‘in scope’ buildings to look at within our county.

What will the team actually be doing?

First and foremost, they are contacting the responsible person for each ‘in scope’ building within the county to organise an inspection to assess the fire safety measures in place.

They will ask some initial questions, and go through a desktop audit process, to decide which buildings need to be inspected first.

They will then physically inspect each building, one by one, and raise any issues they find with the building management.

It’s important to note that the team is there to raise issues and offer advice and guidance. They are not able to physically deal with the issues themselves. As a result of their advice, action may be needed such as the removal of cladding or the introduction of waking watches. It is for the building owners to take such action.

What happens if you find something wrong with a building?

The team will raise any issues they find with the building management and work with them to get the problems dealt with as soon as possible.

In some cases, the team may feel the issues are serious enough to warrant an enforcement notice. This is where serious fire safety deficiencies are identified. Our inspectors, through the notice, will set a time frame for when the remedial work has to be completed.

In the most extreme cases, the team may have to issue a prohibition notice. This is where, using the powers given to us by the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005, we will prohibit the use of the building, or certain parts of the building.

Regrettably, this would involve evacuating residents until the issues are dealt with. People should be assured, though, that it is rare to issue such a notice and we would, of course, work very closely with the building management to get people back in their homes as soon as possible. This option is a last resort and is only used when we feel a building, or a part of a building, is unsafe for people to be living in.

Who is responsible for dealing with issues raised?

As already stated, the building management and owners are responsible for dealing with the issues raised. Our job, as the fire and rescue service, is to raise issues and offer advice on what needs to be done to sort them out. We will then re-inspect buildings to ensure they are safe and that the necessary work has been carried out.

Why has this work not been done before?

It has. We have been inspecting buildings, including high-rise residential blocks, for many years.

This project is simply about accelerating the pace of these inspections so that we can implement the learning from the Grenfell Tower disaster sooner rather than later.

What about other buildings across the county?

Inspections will still take place at other buildings that aren’t ‘in scope’ for this project. We have a wider team of inspecting officers who will be carrying on their work to inspect all buildings in South Yorkshire, regardless of height.

We must stress that all responsible persons should ensure they are fully aware of their fire safety responsibilities, high-rise or not.

Fire service highlights relative’s story of Sheffield firefighter killed in 1940 blitz

South Yorkshire’s fire service is highlighting the story of a firefighting hero killed during the Sheffield Blitz- exactly 80 years after the events which took his life.

Frederick Parkes Spencer was the only permanent, full time Police Fireman – as they were then known – to have been killed when thousands of tons of explosives were dropped on Sheffield on the night of 12 and 13 December 1940.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has already honoured Frederick by naming one of the conference rooms at its Eyre Street headquarters in his memory.

Division Street drill yard

The room is just a stone’s throw from where Frederick lost his life on Charles Street, when the Empire Theatre received a direct hit from a German bomb.

One of his relatives, Anne Whiteley, has been researching the story of her mum’s cousin.

Anne said: “The night of the Blitz- a Thursday evening, 12 of December- had been half day closing, so Sheffield was busy, as it had always been a popular night for going out to the clubs, theatres, cinemas and dance halls. At the City Hall a dance was in progress. The entertainment at The Empire Theatre that evening was Henry Hall and his Orchestra”.

“The `take cover` warning was sounded at 7pm and enemy planes were soon overhead, attacking the city centre. Stationed and living at the service headquarters at Division Street, Frederick Parkes Spencer was on active duty that night, with all his colleagues”.

“Crews from Division Street, reinforced by part-time crews from Sheffield`s auxiliary fire stations were quickly in the city centre, and were attending the fires caused by the first wave of `marker` incendiaries when the second wave of enemy bombers arrived.”

Empire Theatre following the bombing

Over 500 telephone calls were received at the Fire Station Control Room. At 12.42 am on 13th December, Sheffield Police Fire Brigade requested assistance from Sheffield Transport Department and neighbouring fire brigades. In response, 50 pumps were sent from as far away as Birmingham, Manchester and York. Pumps also arrived from 20 towns.

The outside help eventually extended to over 70 pumps and 522 men. The most intense bombardment was between 10.30pm and 2.15am on 12 and 13 December, continuing for a total of nine hours.

Codenamed Operation Crucible by the Germans, these raids saw hundreds of Heinkel 111, Dornier 17 and Junker 88 drop many thousands of tons of explosives on Sheffield. Mains water supplies ran out quite quickly and needed to be relayed from public baths and even the river Don.

The Empire Theatre on Charles Street was hit by a bomb, and had received severe structural damage, was on fire, and in danger of collapse. Frederick was entering the theatre to try to check and clear the building of persons remaining inside, but he and Auxiliary Fireman Stanley Slack, age 29, who lived at Hermitage Street, Moorfoot, both died at the scene.

Anne said: “Frederick was 36 years old and the only permanent and full-time Police Fireman to die in the Blitz. Police Firemen had powers to arrest offenders and jail them if necessary, hence the cells which can still be seen at the National Emergency Services Museum, in Sheffield”.

“Frederick’s parents, and younger brother, Jack, were living at Bradway Road at the time. Jack Spencer, on leave from the Navy in Singapore, was only able to identify him from his brass helmet and the number `2` on his uniform, as he was so badly injured. This helmet and his posthumous award for bravery were later donated by Jack, and put on display at The National Emergency Services Museum”.

“However, Edna, his wife, had to vacate their flat at the Division Street headquarters and return to live with her parents close to Woodhouse cemetery where she buried Frederick,  his headstone simply stating `died as a result of enemy action`. Sheffield City Council Watch Committee of 19 December 1940 awarded her a pension of £78pa under the provisions of The Police Pensions Act 1921 and The Police and Fireman War Service Act 1939.”

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said: “As the events of World War II begin to fade from living memory, we believe it’s even more important than ever to tell the stories of people like Frederick Parkes Spencer and all the other men and women who lost their lives trying to protect Sheffield, its buildings and its people.”

Following The Sheffield Blitz further raids were mounted by The Luftwaffe. However, none of them matched the intensity and loss of life that occurred on 12/13 and 15 December 1940.

You can find out more about the contribution of the work of firefighters during the Sheffield Blitz by searching The Sheffield Fire Brigade website edited by Edward Mullins, and visiting the National Emergency Services Museum on West Bar in the city.

Fire safety team to inspect all high-rise residential buildings across South Yorkshire

A team of fire safety inspectors is embarking on an ambitious project to inspect all high-rise residential buildings across South Yorkshire, over 18 metres or with six or more storeys, by the end of next year.

This comes as part of a Government-driven ‘Building Risk Review’ programme that seeks to ‘significantly increase’ the pace of high-rise residential inspection activity across the country.

Made up of staff from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) business safety department, the specialist team has been funded by a specific Government grant.

As part of their work, the team will be contacting the responsible person for each high-rise residential building across South Yorkshire to arrange an inspection to assess the fire safety measures in place.

“Our aim, between now and the end of next year, is to physically inspect every high rise residential building in South Yorkshire,” said SYFR Area Manager, Simon Dunker, who is head of the service’s prevention and protection departments.

“We hope this work will provide reassurance to residents we are continuing to work to effect changes identified by the Grenfell inquiry and that resident safety remains our priority. We will work with building owners and managers to ensure any necessary work is carried out.”

Whilst this project is specifically targeted at residential buildings over 18 metres in height or with six or more storeys, inspectors are keen to stress all responsible persons should ensure they are fully aware of their fire safety responsibilities.

The service’s inspection officers, who are not directly involved in this project, will continue to inspect all buildings across South Yorkshire regardless of height.

Further information about the Building Risk Review project, and your fire safety responsibilities, can be found at www.syfire.gov.uk/business-advice.

Fire service wins global award for South Yorkshire flooding recovery

The fire service’s recovery from flooding which hit South Yorkshire last autumn has been recognised with a major international award.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue was awarded ‘Most Effective Recovery’ at the Business Continuity Institute’s Global Awards.

The award- presented to the service’s Resilience, Planning and Contingencies team at a virtual ceremony- recognises organisations which have effectively managed major incidents.

The fire service rescued more than 300 people and pumped away an estimated 363 million litres of flood water when heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in parts of Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham in November 2019.

It also coordinated the efforts of fire and rescue services and other agencies who arrived from all over the UK to support the local effort.

Area Manager Stewart Nicholson, said: “The flooding which devastated so many parts of our county in 2019 will live long in the memory for many people and sadly it continues to affect the lives of those who were most severely affected. However, we are pleased that our work to plan for, respond to and ultimately recover from such an event has been acknowledged in this way. It provides much needed recognition to our staff who work so hard behind the scenes.”

The BCI Awards honour business continuity and resilience professionals and organizations worldwide. The global awards are the most prestigious event in the business continuity calendar.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue represented Europe, overcoming competition from organisations from five other regions to win the award.