FIRE crews have twice been attacked when responding to malicious emergency calls in the Leigh and Salford areas in recent days.
So far this year Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has recorded 22 instances of attacks against firefighters, compared to 16 the year previous.
It was at 5.56pm on September 20, when crews from Salford were attacked, having been surrounded by 10 to 15 youths in Ordsall Park, Salford, three of whom became aggressive.
Missiles and fireworks were thrown at firefighters but luckily caused no injuries and didn’t damage any fire service equipment. The crew were able to make it safely back to their fire engine before leaving the incident.
Later that evening, another, unrelated attack occurred. At 9.49pm firefighters from Leigh responded to an emergency call in Westbourne Avenue but on arrival there was no emergency and the crew was met by another group of youths, who were again using fireworks to attack the fire engine.
Once firefighters had established there was no fire and the call had been malicious they found the road had been blocked by the group, with wheelie bins blocking their exit.
Area Manager Paul Etches, GMFRS’ Head of Prevention, said: “During 2017 we have seen a substantial increase in attacks on firefighters whilst attending emergency incidents and protecting the public of Greater Manchester.
“The use of fireworks in these recent events is an extremely dangerous escalation and we will be working with partners to examine where these are currently being purchased.
“Premises are generally only licensed to sell fireworks between October 15 and November 10 and anyone selling outside this period are liable to prosecution.”
The attacks have a wider effect on the community, occupying the time of valuable resources that may be needed elsewhere and potentially putting lives at risk.
Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: “These attacks not only affect the firefighters mentally and physically but they can also have a really negative impact on the community.
“This type of hostile action takes up valuable time and resources that might be needed at serious incidents elsewhere – it is totally unacceptable and we will pursue anyone making those malicious and dangerous calls.”