Firefighter speaks of sadness at attacks in West Denton

Watch Manager Steven Foster is pictured in front of an appliance at West Denton Community Fire Station.

A firefighter who works in the area of Newcastle that saw shocking attacks on crews at the weekend has said he is “saddened and frustrated” by the behaviour.

Watch Manager Steven Foster, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), is responsible for the Red Watch crew who were targeted with suspected petrol bombs in West Denton.

The firefighters from West Denton Community Fire Station also had heavy glass bottles hurled at them while the teenagers responsible tried to barricade them in a cul-de-sac.

A police officer was also later injured during the violence on Saturday evening when the youngsters attacked them as they tried to make an arrest.

Watch Manager Foster said those who were subjected to the attacks are “saddened” by what happened and very shaken up.

He said: “These sickening attacks on firefighters and other members of the emergency services could’ve easily resulted in life-changing injuries.

“The general feeling amongst the crews is that of frustration and anger. We are ultimately saddened with what has happened, and the way things escalated to this kind of incident.

“This was far more than just a few stones being thrown and stray verbal comments. These were premeditated attacks with the aim to cause injury.

“When the crews returned to the station the look of shock was evident on their faces, as they didn’t believe what had just happened to them.  We all love our job in the Service, but nobody deserves to have their life put at risk.”

It is being investigated that fire crews could have been lured to the area by a hoax emergency 999 call that reported a serious car fire in the West Denton area of Newcastle.

When the firefighters arrived on the scene they discovered it was in fact a small refuse fire, and initially when they began extinguishing the fire they were targeted with a barrage of stones and verbal abuse.

“Our crews and staff region-wide risk their lives on a daily basis to keep the communities safe, and the fact the firefighters were potentially lured to Saturday’s incident with a hoax call is appalling,” added WM Foster.

“Then with what later arose with the suspected petrol bomb, laser pen and the barricading of the appliance represents a calculated attack on innocent people just doing their job.

“This was a very, very serious incident. We could easily be reflecting on serious injuries for four firefighters, members of the public or even the perpetrators themselves.”

TWFRS is working closely with its partners in the local community including Northumbria Police, Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle to try and find out what happened over the weekend, and to do everything possible to keep people safe from harm.

Northumbria Police have confirmed that four teenagers – aged 16, 16, 15 and 13 – have been arrested following the incident and since bailed pending further enquiries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101, or using the Tell us Something page on their website, quoting reference NP-20230114-0811.

Alternatively you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.