'Shameful minority' slammed after Bonfire Night attacks on Sunderland firefighters

Yobs who attacked firefighters in Sunderland on Bonfire Night have been described as a "shameful minority" by a councillor.

Louts as young as 10 threw bottles, bricks and fireworks at crews as they dealt with car fires in Southwick on Monday night.

A car destroyed by fire in Southwick. Picture by BBC Newcastle.

A car destroyed by fire in Southwick. Picture by BBC Newcastle.

A car had been driven on to a bonfire at Greystone Place, opposite Cato Street, leading to a call-out for firefighters from Marley Park.
But as they worked to put out the blaze, the crews were subjected to missiles and fireworks by a group of youths – aged between about 10 and 19 - who then attempted to barricade the fire engine into the street.

Firefighters were subjected to a second attack when they returned to the same site two hours later after a report of another car fire.

Councillor Alex Samuels, who represents the Southwick ward for Labour, said: "What happened on Cato Street was extremely saddening and disappointing and I was shocked to see the aftermath when I visited the street.

"Our emergency services provide vital services for our community, and the firefighters and police should be able to do their job of keeping the area safe without being attacked by a shameful minority.

"I hope those responsible are brought to justice quickly and as ward councillors we will be working with the fire service and the police to find out how this happened and what can be done to try and prevent instances like this in the future so Southwick residents can feel safe in their homes and streets."

Police are still investigating the disorder.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Robson, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This takes the abuse against our firefighters to a new unacceptable level.

"These are dedicated professional people whose job it is to protect our communities.

"Not only did they have to suffer objects – including fireworks, bricks and bottles being thrown at them – but also had the threat of not being able to leave the scene due to the attempt to barricade in their fire engine."

Russ King, Fire Brigade Union (FBU) branch secretary: "It is absolutely astonishing that in this day and age anybody would believe it is acceptable to attack firefighters, however sadly new figures suggest that there is a growing problem of attacks on firefighters."

Despite the mindless attack, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said the number of incidents it dealt with over Bonfire weekend fell by 40% compared to last year.

It dealt with 564 calls on Bonfire Night and 960 from November 1-5 but said it had no reports of injuries from fireworks or bonfires.