Chiefs slam ‘absolutely horrendous’ attacks on firefighters as latest figures show slight rise in year-on-year Bonfire Night incidents
Fire chiefs have slammed another year of “absolutely horrendous” attacks on firefighters across Tyne and Wear.
Figures from April to the end of September this year showed there were 29 attacks on firefighters across the region – a slight decrease on the 33 recorded over the same period last year.
But the service also faced a rise in incidents over the busy Bonfire Night period, with seven attacks recorded between November 1-6.
This was up from five the previous year, but senior brigade officers hope to reduce this.
“It’s still 29 too many," Paul Russell, area manager for digital, data and safety at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service told the fire authority’s Policy and Performance Committee on Monday (November 7), "I would love to see zero and that has to be our target.
“The crews do record any occurrences like this, they don’t just brush it off, they let us know about it so we can look at the incidents.”
Of the 29 incidents recorded from April to September, 22 involved objects thrown at firefighters and/or appliances, six involved verbal abuse and one involved physical abuse.
Peter Heath, deputy chief fire officer, said a recent example included a young person shouting “I hope you die in a fire” at a crew.
He said: “That’s a terrible thing to say, but I’m glad we know about it, so the crews continue to report, because it’s not just the physical stuff that hurts.
“We just can’t eliminate this on our own and it does need that concerted effort.”
Cllr Karen Kilgour, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, called the figures “absolutely horrendous”.
“Any at all is absolutely unacceptable and I don’t know what more we can do to support those firefighters, I don’t know what else we need to do to prevent such dreadful incidents.”
Cllr John Usher, Sunderland City Council representative on the fire authority, added: “It’s shocking the amount of incidents and things they have to go through.”
Northumbria Police has confirmed five people were arrested following a firework attack in Southwick, in Sunderland, which left a police officer and teenager seriously injured on Bonfire Night.