South Yorkshire firefighter travels to Sudan to improve fire safety in migrant camps

A firefighter from South Yorkshire Fire AND Rescue has received a top award in recognition of her humanitarian contribution.

By Rochelle Barrand
Friday, 28 June, 2019, 15:54
Clare Holmes, a watch manager on Rotherham blue watch, received the Women in the Fire Service (WFS) Bronze Award for the work she carried out improving fire safety in migrant camps in South Sudan. The focus of the trip was to develop and deliver training to prevent fire spread throughout the camps.

Clare Holmes, a watch manager on Rotherham blue watch, received the Women in the Fire Service (WFS) Bronze Award for the work she carried out improving fire safety in migrant camps in South Sudan.

The focus of Clare’s trip was to develop and deliver training to prevent fire spread throughout the camps.

She spent two weeks at the camps and was part of a team of six volunteers who were approached by the ‘Women in the Fire Service’ network to visit the camp, after a request they’d received from an aid charity.

During the two week trip, Clare and a team provided train the trainer courses for United Nations (UN) camp staff, which included community fire safety advice and burn and scald prevention information.

Clare and the team also carried out a fire safety assessment of the camp, which is occupied by roughly 120,000 people.

Many camps in South Sudan can hold thousands of people living in makeshift accommodation in close proximity to one another, with schools, hospitals and markets all adding to the risk of fire. As well as this, all cooking takes place on open fires and fire service response is limited.

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Clare said: “The community were very receptive to our visit and found the training and advice very beneficial. The site staff that we trained will now be able to pass on fire safety guidance to thousands of people living in the camps and hopefully reduce the risk of a fire starting.

“I feel privileged to have received this award and I hope that our work can make the lives of the people we visited safer for years to come.”

It was announced that Clare had won the award at the annual Women in the Fire Service weekend.

The trip to South Sudan was supported by Fire Aid, a charity which provides donations of fire and rescue equipment and training to those in need of such assistance.

The charity also visited South Sudan in March 2018 and identified a number of substantial fire risks including a lack of awareness of fire safety. It was from this that Women in the Fire Service were asked to request if any of their members could volunteer for a second visit to the country.