Senior Fire Officers from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service are condemning attacks on Firefighters and are warning lives could be lost due to the increasing number of attacks on Firefighters while undertaking their duties and trying to do their job – saving people’s lives.
To create awareness of the increasing number of attacks on Firefighters in South Wales and the devastating consequences these attacks can have, SWFRS is launching its ‘we can’t protect while we are under attack’ campaign.
In 2012/13 there was 12 attacks on Firefighters in South Wales (April 12 to March 13) and in 2013/14 this was already up to 14 attacks by 31st December 2013. This is an increase of 16% in less than two years.
These attacks range from verbal assaults, being spat at, having bricks, bottles and other objects hurled at fire crews and Service Fire Engines, being ambushed, punched, kicked and physically abused. In other parts of the country these attacks have become extremely violent with a number of Firefighters even being shot at or stabbed while responding to an emergency incident.
Chief Fire Officer, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Huw Jakeway said; “It is absolutely beyond belief that our Firefighters are being attacked so viciously while responding to emergency incidents and trying to save lives. Attacking our fire crews has very serious consequences and it cannot and will not be part of anyone's job to face abuse, threats or attacks," he said.
“We take any verbal or physical attacks against our staff very seriously. It is totally unacceptable and distracts us from our main role of keeping the public safe and protecting them in emergencies. Attacks on our crews could have life threatening consequences for the persons involved in the incident the Firefighters are responding too – the occupiers of a house fire for example.
Dewi Jones, Head of the Fire Crime Unit, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service “Thankfully it is a very small minority of people who are responsible for this kind of behaviour however attacks on our Firefighters have increased over the last couple of years with many attacks still going unreported. We want to put a stop to these attacks now”.
“The actions of these ‘attackers’ could prevent the Fire and Rescue Service from getting on with their job and potentially put people at risk, not to mention those responsible could end up with a criminal record for their actions”.
Mike Adams, Police Sergeant, Fire Crime Unit, “The Obstruction of Emergency Workers Act 2006’ Services Act makes it a specific offence to obstruct or hinder the emergency services responding to emergency incidents and the Service Fire Crime Unit will continue to work with the local Police Force to press for the prosecution of anyone who attacks our staff”.
Rhondda Inspector Nick Picton, said: “This is mindless behaviour and we take incidents such as these very seriously. Fire crews do an amazing and difficult job. For them to be targeted in this way at any time is incomprehensible, and the seriousness of what happens is compounded by the fact that these attacks even ocur on Bonfire night – the busiest night of the year for our brave and committed emergency service colleagues.”
To assist with catching the perpetrators of these attacks all fire appliances within SWFRS have been fitted with 360 degree digital CCTV which will enable the Service to record footage of any attacks on Firefighters, which can then be used to seek the prosecution of any offenders”.
"I'd like to remind people we take this sort of behaviour very seriously and I'd urge people to think about the consequences of their actions.
“Remember - ‘we can’t protect while under attack”.
If you witness an attack on a Fire Crew you can report it by calling your local Police Force or the SWFRS Fire Crime Unit on NUMBER or email EMAIL ADDRESS or via the SWFRS app. The app is completely free to download – just search South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Attacks on Firefighters campaign page