Warning over long-term effect of 'absolutely unacceptable' attacks on Tyne and Wear firefighters following Bonfire Night incidents

Firefighters who come under attack while doing their jobs can suffer lasting physical and psychological harm.

That was the warning from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority chair Cllr Phil Tye after the authority was told there had been seven attacks on crews over the recent bonfire period.

This comes on the back of the 30 previous attacks already reported by staff since the start of 2022.

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Most of these incidents came as a result of firefighters responding to deliberately set fires involving rubbish, wheelie bins and other items. often in children’s play parks.

Bonfire Night itself was a busy one for firefighters and controlroom staff, with more than 170 calls about potentially dangerous bonfires.

Cllr Tye has said the abuse of firefighters and staff working in control rooms was absolutely unacceptable in any circumstances and that firefighters come to work to support and work in local communities.

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The acts of a small number of people not only risked the lives of those who needed the service’s he[p, but was also putting firefighters themselves in danger, he added.

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A car which was set ablaze in Cato Square, Sunderland, over the week of Bonfire Night

“Firefighters are someone’s mum, dad, sisters, brothers, friends, parents and are no different to any other member of society,” said Cllr Tye.

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"They come to work to do an incredible and often dangerous job, when communities need them the most.

“The impact of the physical and psychological abuse experienced by staff can have a lasting impact on them – most families would condemn this kind of behaviour if it was happening to their family and friends.

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“Everyone can play a part in calling out this kind of behaviour and reporting those involved if they know who they are.”

Coun Phil Tye (left) with chief fire officer Chris Lowther
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All Fire Authority members supported the chair’s comments and expressed outrage at the abuse of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service staff.

They also praised staff for the work they do in local communities often in the face of very challenging conditions.

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Anyone who knows the identity of those involved in attacks on emergency workers is encouraged to report it.

If you have information, you can contact Northumbria Police online, or by calling 101, or report information to independent charity FireStoppers on 0800 169 5558.