Fire Authority funded community projects have helped to deliver millions of pounds worth of public savings, a major independent study has found.
Research carried out by social return on investment specialists found that projects delivered through South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority's Stronger Safer Reserve Fund produced nearly £5 million worth of benefits to local people.
The fund was set up by the Fire Authority to support the work of local communities to reduce blazes and other emergencies. More than 40 projects were given grants from money set aside from the Authority's reserves. Researchers measured the impact of eight of those projects for their impact on reducing fires, plus other social, environmental and economic measures.
Projects reviewed included 'Barnsley Babies'- a scheme which sees midwives deliver fire safety and other healthy living advice to pregnant women in the borough.
The 'Dementia Fire and Home Safety Project' saw coordinators in each of South Yorkshire's four districts promote fire safety to a range of organisations working with people living with dementia and their carers.
'Safety Circles' saw the fire service work with Rotherham charity SpeakUp to help people with learning difficulties to live more independent lives, by improving their understanding of issues like kitchen fire safety, escape routes and what to do in an emergency.
Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: "Our community safety staff have worked closely with charities and community groups to make sure money granted to them to support our work makes a clear and measurable impact. Our work to make local people safer is well established, but we believe that by continuing to work with other agencies, we can make further reductions in fires, deaths and injuries."
Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: "The Authority believes that charities, community organisations and other local groups can play an important part in supporting the work of the fire service to make our communities safer and stronger. Members are rightly pleased that the investment we have made in our communities has been proven to be delivering real and far-reaching benefits for local people."
Ivan Annibal, from Rose Regeneration and Rocket Science who led the research, said: "We were very pleased with the outcomes of this research. They demonstrate that the fund has built local capacity for the longer term through its grants. Using our Social Value Engine which provides a comprehensive assessment of the value of a whole range of social outcomes we were able to work with the team managing the fund to identify its achievements in the round. They have been very impressive indeed."
Applications will soon open for the third round the fund. The maximum amount of money available for each project is £100,000 and the minimum amount is £5,000. Projects should run for up to two years.
The latest funding will be allocated for projects which meet specific criteria, which include tackling water safety, arson and road traffic collisions. Other key priorities include working with those with mental health issues, people from excluded groups including BAME and faith communities and health and social care issues.