Bonfire weekend festivities hampered by attacks on fire crews

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) would like to thank everyone for what was on the whole, an enjoyable bonfire weekend.

However, the weekend’s festivities were hampered by the acts of a few who chose to attack firefighters
as they worked to keep West Yorkshire safe.

Despite experiencing a relatively calm Friday and Saturday night, crews came under sustained attack on Bonfire Night itself with 15 reported across West Yorkshire.

Bonfire Night saw our control room receive over 1000 calls and crews attend around 280 incidents, with over 100 of those being bonfire related.

Over the whole of Bonfire weekend WYFRS experienced 18 reported attacks.

Whilst some attacks were aimed at firefighters in fire engines, other attacks were directed towards ‘fire cars’ which are police vehicles containing a co-responding police officer and fire officer.

The attacks have come despite a stark warning from fire chiefs in the run-up to bonfire that it would be only a matter of time before a firefighter is seriously injured.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch, Bradford South MP Judith Cummins and Chair of the Fire Authority Cllr Judith Hughes spent Saturday night with crews to see for themselves what they go through.

For the Halifax MP her experiences will help shape the The ‘Protect The Protectors’ which will create a new offence of assaulting an emergency service worker.

 

Meanwhile, MP Judith Cummins saw for herself the challenges the Fire Service faces after attending a bonfire with crews on Saturday evening (04/11/17)  where a firework was set off in the direction of the crew.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “It is only through good fortune that we have not had a firefighter injured by this incredibly foolish behaviour on what has been a very busy night for us.

“We hope that by raising public awareness of these attacks we will see a public stance against attacks on firefighters and a change in legislation which will help safeguard our crews in the future.

“We very much appreciate the backing of our local MPs who have seen first-hand what we face and are appalled by it, as we expect the vast majority of people are. Our firefighters did not join the job for this.”

Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, said: “I’d like to extend my thanks to the communities of West Yorkshire for working with ourselves and colleagues at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to ensure a largely safe and enjoyable Bonfire weekend.

“Thousands of people enjoyed the organised firework displays taking place at venues across the county and many others celebrated with smaller events at home with friends and family.

“Unfortunately, there were a small minority who put themselves and others at risk by misusing fireworks and using the season’s festivities as a backdrop for mindless anti-social behaviour and violence.

“Over the weekend, we had reports of fireworks being directed at moving vehicles, properties and emergency service crews. Many of the people doing this wouldn’t arm themselves with a knife or a gun, but don’t realise that using a firework as a weapon isn’t mischievous, it is highly dangerous.

“On Sunday evening several police vehicles were also damaged with stones and missiles.  These vehicles are used to patrol in communities and respond to emergency calls from people when they are most in need, and they will now be off the road for repair.

“This will result in the actions of a mindless few denying their fellow residents the use of police resources intended to keep them safe.

“We have a number of investigations underway in to these attacks and offences including criminal damage, arson and assault.  We would urge anyone who witnessed any anti-social behaviour or offences over this period to please call West Yorkshire Police on 101 or report it online via our website.”

 

Overview of Bonfire Weekend

 

Friday 3rd November 2017

Calls to Bonfires attended               16
Total incidents attended                  124
Total calls into control                     702

No Reports of attacks on firefighters

Saturday 4th November 2017

Calls to bonfires attended               49
Total incidents attended                  165
Total calls into control                     741

3 reports of attacks on firefighters & police

Bradford

Two reports of attacks including:

Fire car in which MP Judith Cummins was travelling attended an incident in Bradford where crews and the MP came under attack.  They were fired at with fireworks by a group of up to 30 people.

Attack on a firefighter in Bradford

 

Calderdale

One report of attack on appliance returning into Halifax station

 

Sunday 5th November 2017

Calls to bonfires attended               103
Total incidents attended                  322
Total calls into control                     1147

15 reports of attacks on firefighters and police

Leeds
Three reported attacks with bricks thrown at a fire car and crews attacked with fireworks

Bradford

Nine attacks from early evening including fire cars and crews attacked with fireworks, bricks and a wheelie bin thrown at fire appliance.

 

Calderdale

Two reported attacks including a group of 50 throwing fireworks at fire engine in Halifax.
Huddersfield

One reported attack of fireworks thrown at crews.