Firefighters call for more protection from 'daily diet' of terrifying attacks

Last updated at 10:55 18 May 2007

Fire bosses have called for fresh action to protect crews against a "daily diet" of terrifying attacks as they tackle fires.

Firefighters are being pelted with bricks, bottles and missiles as they go about their work.

The Fire Brigades Union said it believed official figures showing a reduction in the number of attacks were "seriously wrong".

According to official data, the number of attacks in England and Wales fell from 1,200 in 2005/06 to 400 in the past year.

The union said the figures "bore no relation" to the daily experiences of fire crews and claimed they had little credibility within the fire service.

The union has compiled a dossier of attacks, which included terrifying incidents including scaffolding poles being smashed through the windscreens of fire engines, crews being bombarded with bricks and bottles or even shot at, stabbings and equipment being stolen.

There has been an increase in the number of officially reported attacks in Scotland although the union said that this might be explained by a better reporting system.

The FBU called for Government funding to train fire crews to deal with attacks and to finance projects being held across the country to try to reduce the number of incidents.

General secretary Matt Wrack said: "The number and ferocity of the attacks seems to be getting worse. It can never be part of anyone's job to get a brick or bottle in the head.

"Many attacks are in deprived areas with poor youth facilities and housing where bored young people turn to drugs and alcohol.

"But in some areas there seems to be a culture of recreational violence where fire crews are the targets."

The union said that in several areas of the country fire brigades were working with young people and local authorities to address the underlying causes of the problem, including trying to create a new image for the fire service.

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