Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have condemned a group of thugs who left a fire appliance in Newcastle with a smashed windscreen. In two separate attacks on Saturday (October 15), the same group of teenagers hurled abuse at firefighters and threw stones at them, as the firefighters responded to reports of fires in the west end of Newcastle.
The incident occurred at around 8.20pm on Saturday, when fire crews responded to a rubbish fire in Westerhope. The service arrived at the scene in only six minutes. However, when they arrived, crews were subjected to verbal abuse from a group of teenagers who then threw stones and rocks at the firefighters. Thankfully, there were no injuries and no damage to service vehicles.
An hour later, fire crews were called to a suspected fire in a Portacabin in West Denton. The fire turned out to be a false alarm. Again however, upon their arrival, the crews were targeted by the teenagers. Their fire appliance was damaged in the process, which had been purchased this year. The damages included the door, scratches to the vehicle, dents on the roof and two cracks to the windscreen. Thankfully, no crew members were injured.
TWFRS have now warned that this misbehaviour can put lives at risk, and that those responsible for the attacks must remember the people behind the uniform. The service also explained that attacks of their fire crews have almost doubled in the last 12 months. 121 attacks on the fire service have taken place since the turn of the year.
Tyne and Wear’s most senior firefighter, Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther has spoken on the incidents, as he said: “I have far too often had to call on parents to speak to children about mindless attacks on fire crews in our communities. Firefighters are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, and don’t deserve to be treated like this.
“They are responding as quickly as they can to keep people safe. To be subjected to verbal and physical abuse is completely unacceptable. But despite those warnings, and at a time of increased pressure on fire and rescue services, those incidents have doubled in the last year.
“I know this is a small minority of people who are responsible for these attacks but the impact they have affects us all and does put lives at risk. An appliance has been taken off the run and taxpayer money will have to fund costly repairs to make it available again to respond to emergencies.
“We will be sharing footage with the police to try and identify those involved but we need the support of our communities to bring this behaviour to a stop. Next week is half term, the clocks go forward and the Bonfire period is our busiest time of the year. We cannot afford for these attacks to continue. Speak to your children, talk to your neighbours and report information to the police. It is only with your help that we can prevent this behaviour resulting in tragedy.”
You can report deliberate fire setting, attacks on firefighters or any other information you may have anonymously by calling Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558. You can also report information to Northumbria Police via the Tell Us Something page of their website, by calling 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. When reporting information to the police please quote reference NP-20221015-1098