Fire Chief Warns Against Attacks On Crews As Bonfire Night Approaches

3 November 2017, 10:39

Bonfire Night

Fire chiefs have warned violence against crew members on Bonfire Night will not be tolerated after staff were targeted with missiles last year.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay hit out after firefighters were subjected to abuse while carrying out their duties on November 5 in 2016.

In one case, a crew in Ayrshire was targeted twice within hours on what is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's busiest night of the year.

Mr Ramsay said: "Our firefighters' main purpose is to save lives. You can rest assured that they will always be there and standing on the front line to help at times of emergency.

"It beggars belief when I hear that they have either been physically assaulted or verbally abused when trying to assist their communities.

"But be left in absolutely no doubt that it is often down to a very small minority of individuals within those communities.

"I would like to take this opportunity to stress once again that this will not be tolerated because our firefighters absolutely do not deserve to be met with such behaviour."

Recent statistics show a firefighter is attacked in Scotland every three days.

In the last six years there have been 590 incidents where staff have been physically or verbally abused or had objects thrown at their vehicles.

Firefighters responded to 970 incidents on November 5 2016 - including 326 unofficial bonfires.

In one instance, an appliance was hit by a missile thrown from a crowd at an unorganised bonfire in St Margaret's Road in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire.

Police had to escort the crew to extinguish the fire.

The same team had been attacked at a similar incident two hours earlier in the town's New England Road.

Mr Ramsay warned that similar criminal action will be taken extremely seriously and vowed to work with police to ensure those responsible are held to account.

He said: "Attacks on emergency responders are completely unacceptable and I am sure the public would be outraged by incidents where their firefighters have been targeted while working to protect people and property.

"This type of behaviour not only prevents our crews from bringing any emergency to a safe and swift conclusion but it can impact on our emergency service colleagues, including the police, when they have to escort us at the scene. This cannot be condoned."

To report any incidents contact Police Scotland on 101 or via the Crimestoppers helpline on 0800 555 111.