Fire fighters are coming under attack once every week from thugs as they tackle blazes and saved lives, according to new figures.
The shocking statistics came to light as fire crews in South Tyneside prepare to launch their annual Lighter Nights campaign - aimed at cutting the number of deliberately set fires which peak during the spring months.
While, fire chiefs saw a drop in the number of deliberate fires last year, figures revealed a sharp rise in the number of attacks on crews.
In 2015, 25 firefighters were assaulted as they carried out their duties.
This number doubled to 50 last year.
Russ King, Secretary for the Fire Brigade Union in Tyne and Wear, said: “It’s a very worrying trend attacks have increased. The people who perpetrate these attacks must realise, any firefighter or any equipment damaged, it is going to hinder what the firefighter can do and can have dire consequences in the kind of emergency reaction from us.
Emergency services do a difficult job in difficult circumstances and personnel should not have to put up with being attacked when attending incidents.Superintendent Sarah Pitt
“We’d ask people who perpetrate to stop and think of their actions and the impact they can have. Luckily, no one has been seriously injured, however, firefighters have been injured. It’s not the physical injuries, it’s also the mental injuries that can result from attacks.
“At the end of the day it’s about education and the fire service is working hard to get this message across.”
He also reminded people fire engines are installed with CCTV and details of attacks are passed to police.
Group Manager Tony Markwell, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It is totally unacceptable that firefighters are being subjected to physical and verbal abuse while working to protect our local communities.
“We take these attacks on our firefighters very seriously and work closely with Northumbria Police and the local authorities to resolve these issues, including reviewing CCTV footage from the cameras which are fitted on all our fire appliances.”
Superintendent Sarah Pitt said: “Emergency services do a difficult job in difficult circumstances and personnel should not have to put up with being attacked when attending incidents. We work closely with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to minimise the risk to firefighters but this obviously has an effect on police resources.
“These attacks are thoroughly investigated and we always endeavour to identify those responsible so we can take action against them.”
Firefighters will now be visiting secondary schools across South Tyneside to spread the message of the dangers of anti-social fires and raise awareness of the impact attacks can have on crews.
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