An attack on firefighters attending a house fire in Sunderland has been condemned by the authorities.
Fire officers, police and union officials have raised serious concerns about an increase in attacks on fire crews, after the three firefighters were assaulted yesterday afternoon.
Fire crews from Sunderland Central, Farringdon and Rainton Bridge were called out at 4.40pm on Wednesday, April 5, following reports of a house fire in Railway Terrace North, in New Herrington.
While crews were dealing with the incident they were physically and verbally attacked by a man.
One firefighter suffered a badly bruised and bloodied nose after he was hit in the face, while a second firefighter was struck in the side of the head, causing bruising to his ear.
The attacker also tried to head butt another crew member, but fortunately his fire helmet blocked the blow.
The crews were able to restrain the assailant whilst awaiting the arrival of Northumbria Police officers, who arrested two men and a woman in connection with the incident.
Paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service tended to the injured firefighters at the scene.
The fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately, was extinguished by four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus, using two hose reels.
This is the second attack on fire crews in three days.
On Monday night in Denton, Newcastle, a crew came under attack from youths throwing bricks at their vehicle.
A gang of youths had knocked down a wall in the Deer Bush area and pulled four wheelie bins together before setting them alight.
When the crew from West Denton Community Fire Station arrived at the scene they were subjected to verbal abuse and then had bricks from the demolished wall thrown at them and their appliance.
Fortunately, none of the firefighters were injured in the attack, but the vehicle’s bodywork was dented and scratched.
Area Manager Alan Robson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I am extremely disappointed and saddened about the increasing number of attacks on our crews and vehicles.
"It is totally unacceptable that firefighters are being obstructed in carrying out their duties and subjected to physical or verbal abuse.
“We take these attacks on our firefighters very seriously and are working closely with Northumbria Police, who are reviewing CCTV footage from the cameras which are fitted on all our fire appliances.”
Fire Brigade Union brigade secretary, Russ King, said: “It’s deeply worrying that attacks like this are still happening in this day and age.
"This is the second occasion in a matter of days that firefighters have been attacked in Tyne and Wear for little more than carrying out their duties and protecting the community.
“The people who carry out these attacks must realise the consequence of their actions, in terms of potential harm to firefighters and damage to essential firefighting equipment, which may result in hampering the service’s ability to continue to provide emergency cover to its fullest potential.”
Chief Inspector Alan Cairns, of Northumbria Police, said: “Firefighters are there to save lives, and it’s appalling that they should face being attacked while doing their job and trying to help the public.
“We won’t put up with those who think it’s acceptable to target firefighters in this way, and it’s important they get the message that what they are doing is thoughtless, dangerous and could cost lives.
“Anyone who has information about last night’s assaults should get in touch with police as soon as possible.”