Firefighters attacked and abused 100 times in last decade including having fireworks directed at them

HAMPSHIRE firefighters have been attacked and verbally abused nearly 100 times in just over a decade, including having fireworks pointed at them.

By Steve Deeks
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:29 pm

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 the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was at the centre of 93 of those incidents, with 14 attacks recorded by the fire service in the year to March.

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Firefighters in the county were attacked or abused 100 times in the last decade

Incidents against firefighters from the area included fireworks being directed at two Southsea crews responding to a blaze in Duke Crescent in November 2020.

As they tackled the fire crew were then verbally abused by a group of individuals, prior to the arrival of police.

Fortunately, no firefighters were injured in the attack.

In August 2018, Fareham crews were physically and verbally assaulted by an individual whilst at a residential fire in Highlands Road, Fareham.

No crews were injured before Hampshire Constabulary arrived and arrested the individual.

Another incident saw Southsea firefighters called to assist SCAS paramedics with entry to a property in Jersey Close in November 2017.

Both paramedics and firefighters were verbally abused as they gained access to the house to reach a casualty.

Since recording began just over a decade ago, 12 Hampshire firefighters have been physically injured in attacks.

During that time, crews were subject to seven incidents of physical abuse, had objects thrown at them on 11 occasions, had verbal abuse directed at them 53 times, experienced three episodes of harassment and dealt with at least 19 other aggressive incidents.

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.

Assistant director of operations for the Hampshire fire service, Dan Tasker, said: ‘Our job is to protect our communities and keep the public safe.

‘Firefighters responding to 999 calls should not have to worry about dealing with aggressive members of the public and certainly should not be subjected to assaults as they carry out their life-saving work.

‘We will not tolerate such behaviour and will report any such incidents to our police colleagues.’

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 5 per cent were physical attacks.

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.

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.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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