Fire chiefs have condemned those who deliberately attack firefighters after two separate incidents in Bradford and Elland this week.
Crews from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) attended two unconnected fires when they were targeted by youths throwing bricks and other missiles. Both incidents took place on Monday, just after 8pm, after the local stations received calls about fires outdoors.
The attacks happened while firefighters were tackling a blaze on Broadstone Way, Holmewood in Bradford and at a second fire at Stainland Road, Sowood, Elland. While the attacks did not lead to any injuries, it did cause damage to the vehicles involved.
Scott Donegan, Area Manager with responsibility for prevention and response, has criticised the behaviour and urged local communities to help educate young people on the important work the service does.
He warned the culprits are putting lives at risk. He said: “Too often now we are hearing reports of our crews being attacked by youths as they respond to calls – this is totally unacceptable.”
“We all know the dangers involved in tackling a fire. It is a challenging enough situation without our teams having to deal with attacks from young people that clearly don’t understand how reckless their actions are.”
“We are working with police to find those responsible and I would ask local communities to help educate these young people and speak to them about their behaviour. It not only has a huge effect on our crews, but it can also lead to young people being arrested.”
A recent report that went to West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority last week detailed attacks on firefighters since the start of the financial year – with the majority having taken place in Bradford. Out of 15 incidents in the last six months, nine took place in Bradford and seven of those were recorded at Bradford Fire Station on Leeds Road. These attacks involved firefighters being assaulted, stoned, or threatened with weapons.
Area Manager Donegan added: “As a service we will continue to work with a number of partner agencies to ensure our communities are safe for everyone – and that includes firefighters. These attacks have to stop, as they could end up putting the safety of residents at risk.”
Chief Inspector Richard Sumner from West Yorkshire Police said: “Assaulting an emergency service worker is totally unacceptable, no one should go to work and be attacked in this way.”
“West Yorkshire Police campaigned actively as part of the ‘Protect the Protectors’ campaign for stronger sentences for assaults on police officers and blue light colleagues and has made it clear that tolerating abuse isn’t part of wearing the uniform.”
“We take these assaults seriously and would encourage anyone with information about these incidents to come forward.”