Firefighters attacked by gangs of youths twice in a week as furious fire service boss says 'I'm not having it'

A fire service’s top officer has slammed thugs who pelted his crews with bottles, stones and branches as they worked to put out a fire.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Officer Christ Lowther has voiced fury after the second attack on his firefighters within the space of just days as they tackled the deliberate blazes.

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Washington firefighters were then verbally abused and struck by objects by a gang of 10 youths at 5pm on Wednesday, March 3, as they put out a tree fire near to the same spot, with their appliance also targeted.

Mr Lowther tweeted: "I’m not having it. Let’s call this out for what it is. Cowardice.”

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He has been supported by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott who added: “This kind of behaviour is never acceptable - hope all of the firefighters were not hurt.”

Today, Mr Lowther said: “These cowardly actions by small groups of people in the community are putting people’s lives in danger.

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Northumbria Police is investigating the attacks on Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

“These attacks happened in close proximity to the A182, a busy dual carriageway, a stray missile could have hit a passing vehicle causing a road traffic collision and possibly the death of an innocent member of the public.

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“Fortunately, nobody was hurt during these attacks but this has happened at a time when we're asking people to show respect to all emergency services personnel, especially when frontline crews are working under difficult circumstances due to the pandemic.”

Crews will enhance preventative measures the chance for fires in the area but the service said it needs the public’s support to reduce the opportunities, such as clearing rubbish and securing wheelie bins.

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The incidents happened off the Washington Highway in Penshaw. Image copyright Google Maps.

Inspector Nick Gjorven, of Northumbria Police, said: “This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable at a time when the majority of the North East is pulling together and has shown the community spirit that this region is famed for.

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“Anyone who knows the identity of the individuals involved is encouraged to come forward and contact police via our website or by calling 101.”

If anyone with information about who was responsible for the attacks can report it anonymously to Firestoppers at or on 0800 169 5558.

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