Attacks on fire crews on increase

THE region's fire chiefs have expressed their concerns after shocking new figures revealed that up to 40 attacks every week are being carried out against firefighters nationwide.

THE region's fire chiefs have expressed their concerns after shocking new figures revealed that up to 40 attacks every week are being carried out against firefighters nationwide.

The comments were made after the Fire Brigades Union said that bricks, bottles and missiles were regularly thrown at crews, while fires had been set deliberately to lure firefighters into ambushes.

Steve Brinkley secretary of Suffolk's FBU said that although incidents of violence were rare in the county they did happen.

"We've definitely had it," he said. "Most recently in January this year when there were reports of attacks on crews who were dealing with a fire in Wherstead Road, Ipswich.


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"A couple of years ago in Sandy Hill Lane in Ipswich we used to have to send two crews even if it was just a rubbish fire and inform the police if we were going because of the trouble we would get.

"It does seem to be coming more and more but I admit it's not as bad as in some parts. It's mostly bricks and stones that get thrown at vehicles.

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"It is very worrying and we shouldn't have to tolerate it. I think that people have to understand that firefighters are doing a job and that if they attack a crew they are putting someone at risk that needs our help.

"At the end of the day people have to be aware that we are just going to work and providing a public service."

According to the figures attacks had reached the 2,000 mark over the year but it is thought that the figure could be as much as three times higher because many incidents go unreported.

In England and Wales, in the nine-month period to the end of January 2005, information from 18 of 50 brigades showed that a total of 393 attacks were reported.

Keith Flinn, secretary for Essex FBU, added: "In general I have to say it's not that bad. Most incidents are few and far between.

"The news really reflects the large metropolitan areas but we have had a few times where we have worked under a police escort.

"What we are hoping is that we can go into communities, schools and youths clubs and explain to the people exactly what it is that we do and why we do it."

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