Firefighters under attack

Firefighters tackling a rubbish fire in Middlesbrough have come under attack from youths throwing missiles and damaging equipment.

Cleveland’s Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton has again warned that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Fire engines are fitted with CCTV cameras and footage has been passed onto Cleveland Police.

The latest violent incident saw crews having wood and other objects thrown at them, youngsters   standing on hoses to prevent the flow of water and opening the rear doors of appliances to try and remove equipment. The youths, while crews were tackling the rubbish fire, also tried to start another fire nearby.

It comes after Cleveland Fire Brigade recently fitted firefighters with body cameras in a pilot scheme to help stem the rising number of attacks.

Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton said: “Make no mistake such totally irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated. We join forces with other emergency services in condemning these incidents. We have a duty to protect our firefighters who are protecting the local community. With body cameras and CCTV cameras we will now be able to capture more evidence of those involved.”

Latest figures show a 60% increase in violent attacks on firefighters with more than 100 reported in the last three years.

Assorted missiles and weapons directed at firefighters include knives, metal bars, stones, laser pens, large planks of wood, beer cans and catapults firing bolts and ball bearings.

From April 2015 to the end of March 2016 there were 28 reported violent attacks on crews. For the same period from April last year to March 2018 there were 45 such incidents – an increase of just over 60% over three years. There were 31 incidents in 2016/17.

Sergeant Oliver Flight, Cleveland Police, said: “Police are carrying out enquiries into this incident and will be looking through all available footage to establish the identity of those involved. This type of behaviour is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.”