“We just want to keep you safe”

Those are the words of an abused firefighter who has called for help from parents – as attacks while responding to incidents continue to rise.

Nathan Gray is a firefighter at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) Farringdon Community Fire Station in Sunderland and was recently attacked for just doing his job.

After extinguishing a deliberate secondary fire at the Old Police Station in Farringdon, Nathan and his crew were readying the fire appliance for further deployment and debriefing with the Police.

That’s when the 40-year-old from Seaham noticed someone out the second floor window throw something at him – striking him on the shoulder.

The cricket ball side piece of breezeblock that had been found in the abandoned building.

The father-of-two said he avoids telling his children about the abuse he faces because he knows they wouldn’t want him to continue in the job he loves.

He said: “We’d had a number of issues at that site, to the point where a crew was there every other night putting out secondary fires.

“The Old Police Station is completely derelict and is a very dangerous environment for people to be inside – we had concerns for the safety of those who were entering as they could find themselves in need of rescuing.

“So when we attended that night, we knew what might happen and brought the police and neighbourhood warden along with us.

“The rock hit my shoulder but luckily I wasn’t hurt, but I told my crew to get into the appliance quickly and we left the scene – we saw them run off as we were leaving.

“I just don’t understand why you would want to hurt someone for just doing their job, it’s disappointing.

“Most of my crew live in the local community too and we just want to keep the public and our families safe and shouldn’t be punished for that.”

Station Manager for Farringdon Community Fire Station, Andrew Nelson says that preventative work in Farringdon has seen a reduction in incidents at the Old Police Station.

But attacks on firefighters has still increased across Tyne and Wear in the last year and he has today condemned those responsible.

SM Nelson said “It’s tough to see and hear about my crews getting attacked when they go out to extinguish deliberate fires.

“It’s like they are being lured into those situations and I want to make it clear that behaviour is completely unacceptable.

“If a firefighter or fire appliance is injured or sustains damage then it is unable to respond to life risk incidents which could have huge consequences.

“We ask that you have open and honest conversations with your children about the consequences of their actions.

“We shouldn’t suffer violence at work because you find it funny.”

TWFRS have seen a rise in attacks on their crews have almost doubled in the last 12 months, with 121 attacks since the turn of year.

Nathan is telling his story as part of the TWFRS Darker Nights campaign in which they’re trying to tell young people that “playing with fire isn’t a game”.

The Service released hard-hitting images of a teenager with severe burns – created using make-up – to highlight the fact that fire-setters are putting their lives at risk.

The campaign aims to educate children about the fact that these burns can leave them unable to do what they love – like playing video games or using their phone.

You can report deliberate fire setting or any information you may have about attacks on firefighters anonymously by calling Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558