Cleveland Fire Brigade is appealing to the public for support after repeated violent attacks on firefighters and equipment in recent weeks.
Since the start of the year there have been 20 incidents of youths deliberately setting fires and ambushing crews with bricks, bottles and stones as they arrive at the scene.
In many cases these incidents appear to be planned with the attackers hiding from view and waiting for the engines to arrive.
Engines have been damaged and taken off the road for repair, putting a further strain on resources.
Out of the 20 incidents, 17 have been in the Hemlington area of Middlesbrough.
Carl Boasman, Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Director of Community Protection said: “It is completely unacceptable for our staff to be subject to violence and acts of vandalism whilst protecting the public.”
“Our job is being made more difficult by the thoughtless actions of a minority intent on setting fires and then trying to injure staff and damage engines. This can potentially mean a vehicle is off the road and unavailable to respond to other incidents. These attacks also divert crews from real emergencies where lives may be at risk.
“Such violence puts firefighters at risk of serious injury. Cleveland Fire Brigade will not tolerate such attacks. Our vehicles are fitted with CCTV cameras and staff are equipped with body cams and we will use any evidence we have to support the police to secure a prosecution of anyone who has been violent towards our staff.”
“We would like to appeal directly to our local communities to help us identify those responsible for such dangerous and anti-social behaviour.”
The public can report issues confidentially to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/pre-form