Mindless thugs have been warned they are putting lives at risk after they bombarded fire crews with stones at the weekend.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have today condemned a group of louts who left a fire appliance in Newcastle with a smashed windscreen.
In two separate attacks on Saturday evening, the same group of teenagers hurled stones and abuse at fire crews as they responded to reports of fires in the west end of the city.
Now the Service have revealed that attacks on their crews are continuing to rise, with the number of attacks already matching the level of last year.
And today Tyne and Wear’s most senior firefighter has said those responsible need to remember the people behind the uniform.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther said: “I have far too often had to call on parents to speak to children about mindless attacks on fire crews in our communities.
“Firefighters are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, and don’t deserve to be treated like this.
“They are responding as quickly as they can to keep people safe. To be subjected to verbal and physical abuse is completely unacceptable.
“But despite those warnings, and at a time of increased pressure on fire and rescue services, those incidents continue to take place.
“I know this is a small minority of people who are responsible for these attacks but the impact they have affects us all and does put lives at risk.
“An appliance has been taken off the run and taxpayer money will have to fund costly repairs to make it available again to respond to emergencies.
“We will be sharing footage with the police to try and identify those involved but we need the support of our communities to bring this behaviour to a stop.
“Next week is half term, the clocks go forward and the Bonfire period is our busiest time of the year. We cannot afford for these attacks to continue.
“Speak to your children, talk to your neighbours and report information to police. It is only with your help that we can prevent this behaviour resulting in tragedy.”
At 8.20pm on Saturday, crews responded to a rubbish fire on in Westerhope and were on scene in just six minutes.
But upon their arrival, crews were subjected to verbal abuse by a group of teenagers and had rocks and stones thrown at their crew. There were no injuries and no damage to vehicles.
An hour later crews were then called to a suspected Portacabin on fire in West Denton that was believed to have been started by teenagers.
Upon their arrival the appliance, that was only purchased this year, was targeted by teenagers who threw stones and rocks at the vehicle.
That caused damage to the handle of the door, scratches to the vehicle, dents on the roof and two cracks to the windscreen that will require replacing. Thankfully no crews were injured.
The fire also turned out to be a false alarm that was made in good intent but the call has left the appliance in need of repairs that will take it off the road for some time.
- In 2019, there were 58 attacks on firefighters, this includes verbal abuse and harassment when responding to incidents.
- In 2020, there was a significant drop in attacks on firefighters to 39. This is mainly due to the coronavirus lockdown.
- In 2021 those figures sharply increased with 63 incidents recorded.
- And in more than 10 months of 2022, there have already been 61 incidents reported.
You can report deliberate fire setting or any information you may have about attacks on firefighters anonymously by calling Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558
You can also report information to Northumbria Police through their website, by calling 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. When reporting information to the police please quote reference NP-20221015-1098