Firefighters pelted with fireworks and bricks in 'mindless' Bonfire Night attacks

·3-min read

A fire chief has described attacks on firefighters responding to incidents on Bonfire Night as "abhorrent".

Firefighters were subjected to "mindless attacks" with fireworks, stones and bricks thrown at crews while they responded to callouts, according to The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), on what it described as the busiest night of the year for many services.

It said incidents on Thursday were reported in Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, Scotland, Wales, Northumberland and Humberside.

In Scotland, the fire service handled 1,193 calls between 3.30pm and midnight, with 13 reported attacks on crews.

Exclusive figures obtained by Sky News show firefighters have been called to at least 1,084 incidents involving fireworks since 2018.

It included 20 incidents where fireworks were used to attack firefighters, according to data released by fire services under the Freedom of Information Act.

The NFCC said it was likely crews would face more attacks over the weekend.

Chris Lowther, chairman of NFCC's operations committee and chief fire officer for Tyne and Wear, said: "Attacking firefighters is abhorrent.

"If one or two members of staff are injured on a shift, this can result in fire appliances having to be taken off the road while other staff are called in.

"This leaves communities at risk if there is a major incident.

"I am disgusted to hear of firefighters being attacked when trying to protect the communities they serve; ultimately saving lives.

"We need to see custodial sentences handed out. It is clear we need a deterrent which makes people think twice."

NFCC chairman Roy Wilsher said: "While jail sentences have been increased from 12 to 24 months, we now need to see these imposed to send a clear message.

"Emergency services staff must be treated with the respect they deserve; blue light services are here to keep people safe."

The NFCC said there were 897 attacks recorded in the past year, with firefighters in some areas unable to attend certain incidents unless they have a police escort.

The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has called for an urgent review into the sale of fireworks following the series of incidents.

John Apter, PFEW national chair, said: "The dangerous, irresponsible and unlawful use of fireworks we have seen over recent days can no longer be ignored.

"We have witnessed numerous pitched battles in the streets with fireworks being used as a weapon of choice and fired indiscriminately at police officers.

"This is not just a 'bit of fun', it is a serious issue which can, and does, lead to people being badly injured.

"The current legislation is clearly not fit for purpose, and there must be a comprehensive and urgent review which should include the availability of over the counter fireworks.

"This violent behaviour towards emergency service workers, who are doing their jobs and helping people in need, is totally unacceptable.

"There must be harsher punishments to send a clear and unequivocal message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated."