Firefighters out in pairs for own safety

Borough fire crews are often targets
Borough fire crews are often targets
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Borough firefighters are forced to send out two engines at a time to certain calls due to attacks from the public, it has been revealed.

Crews from Atherton station recently revealed to the Post that double crews were being sent out to jobs which may be caused by anti-social youths, as a precautionary measure to protect firefighters’ safety.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) revealed the policy behind sending out multiple engines to jobs.

“If there is a report of an incident where there is anti-social behaviour, for the next 24 hours we will have what is called a ‘polygon’ on that area, which means that if we get a call back to that area, we will send two crews.

“After 24 hours it will be reviewed, and if there is no bad behaviour, the monitor will be removed.” He added: “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical attack. It can be anything such as verbal abuse, something as simple as kids shouting. So it might not even be people throwing stones or rocks, although we have had that in the past.”

But the spokesman also stressed the dangers of time wasting, and the importance of having firefighters readily available at a moments notice.

“We have to make sure there’s a certain level of safety for our crews. We are used to sending more than the necessary engines to things like smoke alarms, because we don’t know if people are trapped or if the fire might spread, so it’s something we are quite used to.

“But at the same time, it’s a waste because something serious could happen that requires 20 engines to go to, but we’ve just sent out two to a wheelie bin fire that children have set off.”

“The problems do go up at this time of year because it’s getting darker, so there is more anti-social behaviour especially with fireworks being back in the shops around Halloween and Bonfire Night.”

Wigan’s firefighters are among those most targeted by anti-social behaviour in Greater Manchester. Since April, GMFRS reported 28 hostilities towards firefighters, including verbal and physical abuse, harassment and objects being thrown. Most of the incidents are reported to have occurred in Wigan and Manchester.

In September, firefighters were pelted with missiles when they went to a park after wheelie bins were set on fire. Youths threw bricks and stones at the crew from Wigan fire station after deliberately starting the blaze by dragging bins onto Ashfield Park in Standish.

Crews were also lured into an attack in May when gangs hurled glass bottles at firefighters responding to a deliberate blaze in Tyldesley.

And just days later, youths verbally abused firefighters in Platt Bridge and threatened to set fire to homes in the area if the fire engines did not leave.

Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, recently said: “Such attacks on emergency service workers take up valuable time and resources that might be needed at incidents elsewhere. This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and those who take part in this kind of activity risk facing serious consequences.”