North Yorkshire firefighters attacked on dozens of occasions
NORTH Yorkshire firefighters have been attacked or verbally abused dozens of times in just over a decade, figures show.
The data is revealed today - November 5 - traditionally one of the busiest nights for firefighters.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service interim Chief Fire Officer Jon Foster said the county didn't usually see the bonfire night problems experienced elsewhere - but urged people to follow advice.
At least 8,600 attacks have been recorded by fire brigades across England since 2010-11 – and more than 500 firefighters have been injured as a result.
Home Office statistics show crews from North Yorkshire were at the centre of 55 of those incidents, with two attacks recorded by the fire service in the year to March.
During that time, crews from North Yorkshire were subject to four incidents of physical abuse, had objects thrown at them on eight occasions, had verbal abuse directed at them 35 times, experienced one episode of harassment and dealt with at least seven other aggressive incidents.
In light of the figures, police chiefs vowed to use the full force of the law against those who subject emergency workers to “deplorable” attacks.
Despite firefighters attending fewer incidents and fires during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, attacks increased nationally, with 934 recorded across England in 2020-21 compared to 899 the year before.
And the true figures could be higher, as those reported only reflect assaults experienced during operational incidents and do not take into consideration abuse that has taken place at or around fire stations or as crews are carrying out fire prevention work, for example.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “Any attack on firefighters – who are providing a humanitarian service – is something to be deplored.
“It is paramount that fire and rescue services provide appropriate support to firefighters who are subject to such attacks, including taking into account any mental health effects of these incidents, and being understanding when it comes to sick leave.”
Verbal abuse is the most common type of attack recorded nationally, accounting for 57 per cent of incidents recorded by fire services since 2010-11.
Around a quarter of incidents involved objects being thrown at firefighters, while five per cent were physical attacks.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said it is never acceptable for anyone to be assaulted or harmed for doing their job.
He added: “Last year, the maximum jail term for attacking emergency workers was doubled.
“This sent a clear message that society will not tolerate abuse of our emergency workers.
“We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line.”
Interim fire chief Mr Foster said: “Thankfully the number of attacks on firefighters within North Yorkshire remains low, however we take all attacks on our staff seriously and review every incident.
“We know from our colleagues in other services that these attacks not only impact on the crews but can also lead to fire engines being off the run.”
Mr Foster added: “We historically don’t experience the issues that other fire and rescue services see in the lead up to and on bonfire night, and normally it’s a quiet night for us. We hope it will be the same this year and people follow our safety tips. We would also encourage people to attend an organised event which tend to be a safer way to enjoy their bonfire night.”