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South Yorkshire community groups to benefit from UK first fire service grant scheme

Thousands of South Yorkshire’s most vulnerable people will be made safer thanks to a £700,000 fire funding windfall.

Nineteen charities, community groups and health partners have been awarded money under the second round of South Yorkshire Fire Authority’s Safer Stronger Communities Reserve fund.

The scheme, now in its second year, is the only fire service backed grant scheme of its kind anywhere in the country.

Sixty-four bids were received for the fund which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves, before these were whittled down to the final shortlist.

Key objectives for successful bids included prioritising the most vulnerable people in society and projects which combined fire safety with improving people’s health and wellbeing. Groups could bid for a maximum of £150,000.

Highlights of the successful bids include:

• A 12 week personal development programme at Barnsley fire station for 16 to 25 year olds who are not currently in education, employment or training
• A ‘fire buddies’ scheme which will recruit and train volunteers to visit the homes of isolated older people in some of Sheffield’s poorest neighbourhoods
• Pop-up safety stations to provide fire and personal safety information for people in Edlington, Doncaster
• A Rotherham-based project to develop road safety education materials suitable for people with autism and learning disabilities

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Jim Andrews, said: “By giving these grants to well researched, well planned projects to support our work in some of South Yorkshire’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods we are, in effect, fire proofing the county.

“The first year of funding highlighted how even a small amount of financial support from the Fire Authority can enable local communities to make a real difference in improving fire safety.

“This year, the fund was once more heavily over-subscribed so 19 projects the Authority has decided to award funding to really are the best of the best.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer John Roberts, said: “Fires have been falling steadily in South Yorkshire for many years and the county is safer now than it has been at any time in its history. But for as long as people continue to suffer the devastating effects of fires, there will always be more work to do.

“The best way for us to further reduce emergency incidents is to work with partners like those which have applied for support from this grant scheme. It’s these organisations which can help us reach the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“A particular focus for us in coming years is the wider positive impact the fire and rescue service can make in our communities, particularly in terms of improving people’s health and wellbeing. Many of the schemes we’ve awarded funding to reflect this aspiration.”


People with learning disabilities make lives safer via fire funded scheme

The lives of people with learning disabilities and autism have been made safer thanks to a nationally significant fire service funded education project.

The scheme, believed to be the only one of its kind in the country, has seen people with a range of learning disabilities or autism play a leading role in developing a fire safety workbook, DVD and other educational resources suitable for one of the most excluded, vulnerable groups in society.

The project aims to help people with learning disabilities and autism to live more independent lives, by improving their understanding of issues like kitchen fire safety, escape routes and what to do in an emergency.

With the education resources created, the charity has now recruited and trained ‘fire safety champions’, to share the information and advice with other vulnerable people in South Yorkshire.

It’s the first time Rotherham-based charity Speakup Self Advocacy has worked with a fire and rescue service, following a £58,000 grant from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s Stronger Safer Communities Reserve.

The organisation has been working with Government departments and national organisations for 28 years to develop information and training, which is suitable for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

Speakup’s Geoff Doncaster, said: “Traditionally public services issue a lot of well meaning advice and information to vulnerable groups, whilst failing to recognise that a lot of people with learning disabilities have either no reading skills or struggle greatly with written information. Also, people with autism may need information given to them in a slightly different way, for example on video. What this funding inspired us to do was give people the tools to create resources which will make a genuine impact in terms of protecting their peer groups from the dangers of fire.”

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue vulnerable persons advocate Dianne Fox, said: “There’s a definite gap currently in the quality of information public services offer to people with autism and learning disabilities. By working with an organisation which specializes in delivering education and information to these vulnerable groups, we think we have been able to develop a suite of resources which is truly groundbreaking for a UK fire and rescue service.”

Dozens of registered charities, community organisations and partner agencies came forward to apply for grants from the first round of the £2 million the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve fund, which had been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

For more information or to view the resources, visit


Fire service training partnership delivers life skills advice to Doncaster youngsters

Hundreds of South Yorkshire youngsters are being given vital life skills thanks to a unique partnership between the fire service and a Doncaster training provider.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue works with Engage Doncaster, an apprenticeships and training agency, to deliver learning sessions to young people who are not currently in education, employment or training.

Sessions are delivered to youngsters aged 14 to 19 around road safety, fire prevention and the consequences of anti-social behaviour and arson.

The aim is to help young people make positive life choices, ultimately giving them the best chance to succeed in their chosen careers.

SYFR Community Safety Team Leader Amanda Thompson, said: “The feedback from both the training provider and the youngsters themselves on the sessions we have delivered has been overwhelmingly positive. Partnerships like this one show how the work of the fire service goes far beyond putting out fires or rescuing people from emergencies.

“We can have a positive impact on our communities in lots of other ways, and by engaging with young people in this way we can improve their life chances as well as building lasting, positive relationships which will hopefully reduce emergency incidents in the future.”

Tillie Silman, a youngster from Engage said; “I really enjoyed it when the fire service came in, it was a very interesting experience. I have learnt a lot about how to deal with certain situations and not to prank call as this could put someone’s life in danger.

“The best part of the course for me was learning about the impact of not wearing a seat belt. It has made me realise the importance of always wearing one even sat in the back of the car. This could cause someone in the front seats serious injuries event if they are wearing seat belts.”

Growth in electrical blazes revealed

A rise in electrical fires across South Yorkshire has been blamed on everything from phone chargers to e-cigs.

Fire officers say that whilst nearly every type of fire has reduced significantly during the last decade, thanks to safety visits and better awareness of risks, electrical incidents have stubbornly refused to drop.

Electricity is involved in about two thirds of all accidental house fires, with household appliances the most common culprits.

190 electrical fires

There were 190 house fires involving electricity in 2014/15, up from 165 the previous year and 150 in 2012/13. The kitchen is the most likely room in the house where electrical fires will start.

Sometimes fires are caused by faulty goods, which could be small items like mobile chargers, or big things like washing machines and dryers.

Fires are also caused by people misusing electrical appliances, for example by leaving them plugged in for too long or covering them up allowing them to overheat.

Fire officers are so worried about the problem, they have launched a safety video to try to educate people about the most common risks. The film has already been viewed more than 25,000 times on Facebook.

Head of community safety Kevin Ronan, said: “This isn’t about scaremongering but about making sure that consumers have all the available safety information. The vast majority of electrical goods are manufactured to very high safety standards, but sometimes if they are misused or if there is a fault with the device they can start a fire.

“The simple truth is that homes have more small electrical devices in them than probably any time in our history- from tablets and mobile phones, to e-cigarettes and games consoles. Unfortunately, we can’t get round everyone’s home to check the safety of their electrics for them. But by releasing this film, we hope we can give people the knowledge to check their own electrics and hopefully prevent a serious fire.”

The fire service has issued the following advice to stop fires:

  • Don’t buy cheap, unbranded chargers and make sure chargers are compatible to the device you are using
  • Don’t leave things to charge overnight or beyond the recommended charging time. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep electrical items away from flammable materials when charging
  • Don’t overload sockets– long, strip adaptors are safest, but can only take a total of 13 amps

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is also calling on electrical manufacturers to do more to make people aware when faulty products are recalled.

Millions of recalled electrical products still in people’s homes

The number of fires caused by faulty large kitchen goods like fridges, washing machines and tumble dryers has increased from 42 fires in 2012, to 56 in 2013 and 60 in 2014.

A man died in a house fire in Gawber, Barnsley in 2012 in a blaze caused by a faulty fridge.

Manufacturers are required by law to notify people if they know one of their products poses a fire risk and needs to be recalled. But millions of faulty products remain in people’s homes.

“The average success rate of a recall is only 10-20%, which means that there are potentially millions of dangerous electrical products in homes across the UK.

“For consumers, we know that returning a recalled product is not always convenient, especially if it’s an item that you use every day, but recall notices are issued to keep people safe. The small inconvenience of returning a recalled item is worth it when you consider that faulty products can electrocute or cause a fire,” said Kevin.

For more information about this campaign visit our 13orbust online safety checker.

Two new turntable ladders maintain South Yorkshire’s rich firefighting heritage

A century after Sheffield became the first fire service in the country to use a turntable ladder, the very latest vehicles to rescue people from height have come into service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) has two new turntable ladders, believed to be the best specification vehicles of their kind anywhere in the world.

The vehicles have been manufactured by German firm Metz XS and supplied to SYFR through the Rosenbauer Group in the UK.

After specifications were submitted by companies interested in providing the vehicles, extensive testing by a working group consisting of staff in various roles across the fire service took place.

The L32A model has superior accuracy and agility compared to the services current aerial ladder platform (ALP), deploying in 90 seconds it is also much faster in its operation. Its ladder can reach 32 metres and has the ability to work below the horizontal axis.

The vehicles cost a combined £1.2 million and arrived in South Yorkshire earlier this year and have been kitted out and used for training by firefighters before going on run at Doncaster and Parkway fire stations.

Turntable ladder

Area Manager Phil Shillito said: “Aerial appliances are important vehicles because they allow us to tackle fires from above and rescue people from height in a way we are not able to do with a traditional fire engine.

“These turntable ladders were chosen with the help of the people who will use them every day- frontline firefighters. The overwhelming feedback was that these appliances are the best specification vehicles currently on the market.”

Sheffield Fire Brigade- one of the four district brigades which went on to form South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 1984- became the first fire service in the country to use a turntable ladder in 1903.

The German built horse drawn vehicle was bought after Superintendent William Frost had first spotted it at a fire exhibition in Earls Court, London.

The appliance was converted to a motorised vehicle in 1921 at a cost of £1,200- more than £50,000 in today’s money- and was stationed at West Bar police and fire station, now home to the National Emergency Services Museum.

“We have a long history of using the very best resources to provide emergency cover to the people of South Yorkshire. These vehicles are testament to the fact that, in spite of the current challenging economic backdrop, we will continue to provide the very best firefighting resources to our frontline crews,” said Phil.

Students come up roses for fire station garden project

Students have been putting their landscape gardening skills to the test by updating a community garden as part of their Prince’s Trust project.

The students, from Outwood Academy have been re-planting the community garden at Adwick fire station. They have planned the layout of the garden with assistance from Doncaster Council staff, who also provided many of the materials. Paths and borders which have lain overgrown and unused have been re-instated, flowers have been planted and the grass has been cut to provide a wildlife haven.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) are supporting Outwood Academy through the Safer Stronger Communities Reserve fund to run an engagement course for young people in conjunction with the Prince’s Trust.

The programme runs one day a week throughout the school year, targeting 15 students at risk of under achievement or exclusion. Students gain qualifications in personal development and employability skills, with modules covering teamwork, presentation skills, community work and group planning.

The Prince’s Trust XL Club is a nationally recognised programme having helped over 70,000 young people since 1998.

Arson Intervention Officer Andy Kirwan said; “The group has been working at Adwick station since September and have recently chosen the garden as a project. The kids have worked really well, with the support and supervision of the Doncaster Council team”.

PC David High who runs the scheme said, “The project has had a positive and direct impact on the attainment and behaviour of the pupils involved with support from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, Doncaster council and the local SNT. Fire service staff have delivered sessions on the consequences of fire setting, road traffic collisions and engaged with young people from the area who may have previously been involved with anti social behaviour”.

Two new Sheffield fire stations open doors for first time

Two multi-million pound fire stations in Sheffield have opened and are responding to 999 calls for the first time.

The stations at Parkway and Birley Moor will allow South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to provide a better service to the community, particularly to the south-east Sheffield area.

Area Manager Phil Shillito, head of emergency response, said: “These two new fire stations are central to the provision of our service in south and east Sheffield. They are located in the optimum positions to enable us to respond quickly and effectively to emergency incidents.

“The stations at Darnall, Mansfield Road and Mosborough have been part of our communities for more than half a century, but their lives as working fire stations had come to an end and it’s time to turn to an exciting new chapter in the provision of our core, emergency response service.

“The facilities highlight, in spite of a challenging economic backdrop, our relentless commitment to providing the best possible fire cover to the people of Sheffield and beyond.”

With the opening of the new stations, Darnall, Mansfield Road and Mosborough stations have closed. Darnall fire station opened in 1956 and Mansfield Road in 1965. Mosborough transferred from Derbyshire to Sheffield Fire Brigade in 1967.

The new, full-time station at Birley Moor will cover a much greater area of South Yorkshire than the existing part-time station at Mosborough, right on the Derbyshire border, was able to. It will house one full time and one part time fire engine.

Darnall and Mansfield Road stations were built to address risks in Sheffield’s major industrial sites, including the city’s major steelworks. The new Parkway station will be better placed to protect new housing developments in the area, plus road traffic collisions on Sheffield Parkway and the nearby road infrastructure. It will house a full time fire engine and an aerial appliance.

Firefighter success at Sheffield Academy

A firefighter has spent the past seven months working with pupils at a Sheffield academy to have a positive impact on their learning and behaviour.

Retired firefighter Ian Foster spends one day a week at Springs Academy helping teachers and providing a positive role model to pupils.

Ian recently retired as a firefighter and continues to work for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue on community and youth engagement. He was tasked with working with the youngsters at the school to help educate them about road safety and the dangers of arson in an informal and relaxed way.

Consisting of around eight pupils from years 9 and 10, their day is structured around practical activities and safety workshops. These include planning, constructing and marketing items which they make in school to sell, such as wooden bird nesting boxes and bird feeding tables, as well as discussion sessions around fire and road safety. They have also been involved in gardening and have planted a variety of different vegetables at their site.

The youngsters also take part in external activities, including visits to fire stations and the National Emergency Services Museum, as well as undertaking different team building exercises.

This School Liaison Officer role that Ian performs was devised by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as it drives down the amount of small, deliberate fires.

The fire service hopes more schools will now see the benefits of having a uniformed presence working with their pupils.

Ian Foster said: “We are fortunate that firefighters have a really positive image within the community and the impact of having that uniformed role model in school for just a few hours a week can be vast.

“Our work educating young people about fires and road safety has helped to reduce incidents massively over the last few years, but we’re pleased the academy can see the benefits of this project which go far beyond our traditional role.”

Michael Goldenburgh at Springs Academy said; “Ian, our School Liaison Officer, is great with our students, he attends on a regular basis and all the students now expect to see him every week. They look forward to his time with them in school and in particular the practical exercises and activities in the afternoon. He is an excellent role model for our students and most of them are benefiting from the skills and knowledge he delivers.”

Fire service proves it’s got cutting edge skills

Firefighters have returned home victorious after picking up an award at an international road traffic collision contest held in Germany.

Battling 28 teams from 16 countries, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s crew showed off their skills while competing in The Extrication Challenge, walking away with the top prize in the ‘Best Medic’ category.

One team after another was challenged to respond to a unique 20 minute vehicle extrication scenario, meaning they had to rescue a trapped and injured casualty from a car crash as quickly and safely as possible.

“There was a casualty in the vehicle, who was actually a doctor and an assessor of the event,” said team leader and incident commander Chris Tyler.

“He was even wearing an earpiece so he could assess everything that our medic and the rest of the team were doing. There’s also a trauma doctor assessing you outside of the vehicle along with two other external assessors.

“We quickly performed a survey of the scene and the firefighter tasked as the medic in our team will advise us what he wants to happen because of the casualty’s condition.

“In this instance the casualty had neck and pelvis injuries, so we needed to get the casualty out safely while keeping them straight.

“Of course it’s nice to get recognition for our skills but the main focus of these events is to study what new information is available to develop better and safer procedures.

“We’re able to learn directly from industry leading experts and manufacturers, which means we can understand the potential hazards as well as the latest techniques to help anybody unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic collision.

“This improves the safety for our own firefighters at incidents like these but ultimately means we are better equipped to provide a swift and effective service to the public of South Yorkshire.”

The team will now go on to represent South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue at a similar national event, competing against 45 fire and rescue services from across the United Kingdom, on Friday 31.

Firefighter donates winnings to charity

A Sheffield firefighter has donated £1,000 to charity after winning the money in a competition.

Crew Manager Paul Wood from white watch on Central station in Sheffield, won the money last year while attending the national fire service Breathing Apparatus (BA) Challenge, where he took part in the guess the name of the bear competition, which to Paul’s surprise he won.

He decided to donate the full £1,000 prize money between two charities, The Children’s Hospital Charity for the Burns Unit and The Fire Fighters Charity, getting £500 each.

Paul has this week presented his cheques to each of the charities.

Paul said; “I couldn’t believe my luck when I was told I had won, it was such a surprise. I knew straight away though that I wanted to donate the money to charity. The Fire Fighters Charity was the obvious choice, having been a firefighter for the past 19 years. I also chose The Children’s Hospital Charity as I wanted to help a local charity and having two children of my own I felt it was a very worthy cause.”

Judith Oliver, the Fire Fighters Charity fundraiser in Yorkshire, said; “We can’t thank Paul enough. Working with members of the fire and rescue services is always a pleasure as they are such generous and community-minded people”.

The Children’s Hospital Charity’s director, David Vernon-Edwards, said: “This is an incredible donation, which comes at a critical time in our hospital transformation as we strive to fundraise for a brand new wing at The Children’s Hospital in Sheffield. As part of our Make it Better appeal, we urgently need funds to bring world-class facilities to the already world-class hospital, so Paul’s amazing support means we are a step closer to that.”