Fury over new 999 ambush

Firefighters were attacked twice in less than 24 hours

Fire chiefs have blasted yobs who pelted crews with stones in two ambushes within hours of each other.

In both instances the firefighters escaped unscathed while their vehicles sustained minor damage.

But they are the latest in a growing list of incidents where a 999 call is made and then, when a team turns up to deal with a blaze - if there is one - they come under attack from gangs of youths.

Leigh has proved particularly problematic in recent weeks and youths have also thrown lit fireworks.

The new attacks were branded “totally unacceptable” by brigade bosses and come just days after it was announced that crews are from now on going to go out in two engines if attending particular areas or where anti-social behaviour may be involved.

The first ambush occurred when firefighters were called to reports of a fire on Holly Grove, Leigh, at 8.14pm on Monday.

They arrived to find a mattress ablaze in the alleyway behind the houses which they were able to quickly extinguish.

But as they were leaving, the engine came under attack, with youths throwing small pieces of stone and cement at them. Some of these pieces struck the fire engine, causing minor damage to the bodywork.

Less than 24 hours later, at 5.49pm on Tuesday, another 999 call was made to report a fire in woodland area near Cedar Road, Leigh.

On arrival firefighters found five wheelie bins alight and proceeded to attempt to put the fire out.

Their efforts were soon hindered when they came under attack from a group of youths throwing rocks at them.

Luckily no one was hit, as the firefighters were able to dodge all incoming missiles whilst extinguishing the fire with a hose reel.

However once back in the fire engine, another volley of missiles was launched, striking the vehicle, again causing minor damage to the body.

Group manager for Bolton and Wigan Lee Coleman said: “This is completely unacceptable behaviour when our firefighters are working hard to protect our community.

“These attacks not only put our firefighters at risk, but also prevents them from attending other incidents, where potentially people’s lives could be at risk. Over the coming weeks, we will be working with our partners to stress the impact of this behaviour on our service.”

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Beverley Hughes said: “This is the sixth time firefighters have been attacked in the space of two weeks, with two of those attacks occurring in a 24-hour window just this week. These attacks take up the extremely valuable time and resources of our emergency services and will not be tolerated.

“There will be serious consequences for anybody that is found to be involved in this sort of behaviour and we will work closely with Greater Manchester Police to investigate any attacks on our emergency services.”

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