Firefighters under attack again just weeks after Sunderland officer's injuries

Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Baines.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Baines.

Firefighters were physically and verbally assaulted twice in less than 24 hours by gangs of yobs.

The first incident took place on Sunday evening when a Tyne and Wear crew came under attack from a gang of five youths throwing stones and a bottle at their vehicle.

The incident, which happened on Sundew Road, in the Beacon Lough Estate area of Gateshead, followed a call to extinguish a fire at a woodland area that had been started deliberately. Fortunately, none of the firefighters were injured but the appliance cab's paintwork was damaged.

The second incident took place on Monday afternoon when a crew attended a rubbish fire at a skate park close to the first incident, on Coltsfoot Gardens, Gateshead.

As the crew was extinguishing the fire, they were approached by 12 youths who repeatedly threw missiles at the officers and the fire appliance.

Whilst no one was injured in the latest attacks, fire officers, the police and union officials have condemned the actions of those involved and expressed their concern at the upturn in attacks over the course of the past few weeks.

It follows a number of attacks in Sunderland last month where one firefighter suffered facial injuries and two others were assaulted.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Baines, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I am saddened and disappointed to be raising further concerns about attacks on our fire crews.

“Whilst no-one was injured in these latest attacks, it is wholly unacceptable that firefighters are being subjected to this abuse as they work to protect our local communities.

"When crews are in attendance at deliberately set fires, it prevents them from attending potentially life-threatening incidents. This could be an incident involving your family and loved ones.

"Quite simply, the mindless actions of these individuals are putting lives at risk.

“We take these attacks very seriously and are working with Northumbria Police to review CCTV footage from the camera’s which are fitted to our fire appliances. We will prosecute anyone found to be involved with these incidents.”

Fire Brigade Union brigade secretary, Russ King, said: “The FBU are deeply concerned at the rise in attacks on firefighters. Once again emergency crews were subjected to mindless attacks which could of had dire consequences in terms of health safety and welfare of the firefighters.

“Those responsible for these attacks must realise that if a firefighter gets injured and vital firefighting equipment gets damaged then that would seriously limit our effectiveness in terms of responding to life threatening incidents.”

Chief Inspector Alan Pitchford, of Northumbria Police, said: "This isn't the first time we have had to address this issue and we need to get the message out there that those responsible are committing a criminal offence that their actions could end up putting lives at risk.

"Anyone with any information about those involved in these two most recent incidents should contact police on 101 quoting log 944 30/04/17 or 756 01/05/17."