Firefighters in Ayrshire and Edinburgh come under attack in lead up to Bonfire Night
Firefighters across Scotland have come under attack this week while responding to 999 calls ahead of Bonfire weekend.
Crews have been bombarded with fireworks, bricks and bottles after being mobilised to tackle a series of outdoor fires.
This included twice on Monday night at Ardrossan in North Ayrshire followed by two further attacks in the Southhouse and Sighthill areas of Edinburgh on Halloween.
Crews had to request the assistance of Police Scotland to provide an escort to enable them to attend and extinguish the fires.
There were no injuries reported to the crews involved however a number of fire appliances sustained damage and, in one instance, an appliance had to be removed from operational availability.
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (DACO) Garry Mackay has branded this behaviour as “unacceptable” and warned SFRS will take a zero-tolerance approach on attacks on staff.
He said: “The Bonfire period is one the busiest spells for our staff and our emergency service partners, who work tirelessly to keep people safe.
“They should be able to carry out their role without being hurt or having appliances and equipment damaged by reckless anti-social behaviour.
“These actions are also an unnecessary drain on emergency service resources.
“We want to bring any emergency to a safe and swift conclusion – please respect our staff and all emergency services.”
Station Commander Paul Timmons was part of the crew mobilised to an outdoor fire in Ardrossan on Monday night when they came under attack.
He said: “A number of objects were being thrown at us by a group of people and something struck the roof of the appliance.
“This behaviour prevents us from doing our job. We shouldn’t be treated this way – it is unsafe and someone could be seriously hurt.”
This follows a series of attacks on Bonfire Night last year when crews came under fire while responding to an incident in the Niddrie area of Edinburgh.
Watch Commander Daniel Johnston was part of the crew from Newcraighall Community Fire Station who came under attack.
He said: “Fireworks were being set off all around and there was a lot of smoke haze. People were riding on electric motorcycles in front of the appliance.
“An object struck the rear window of the appliance which caused it to smash and alarmed the firefighter who was sitting next to the window.
“It was a threatening scene to drive through. The crews were intimidated by the number of people around who were shouting.
“We didn’t feel safe and people in the local community were scared in their homes.”
Last week Crimestoppers launched a campaign to raise awareness to help keep Scotland’s emergency services safe.
DACO Mackay added: “We know this is a small minority of people but any attack on the emergency services is completely unacceptable.
“Together with our Police Scotland partners, we will work to identify those responsible.
“Additionally, we also continue to ask parents, guardians and carers to help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risk and consequences of engaging in such acts.
“Our priority is to keep our firefighters and our communities safe, and we urge the public to help us as we approach Bonfire Night.”
Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown said: “Our fire, police and ambulance crews put themselves in harm’s way to keep communities safe and it is utterly despicable that they should be subjected to any abuse or attacks at any time, not least when they are protecting people.
“To help crack down on such behaviour, the Scottish Government’s Fireworks and Pyrotechnics’ Act ensures that courts are required to take into consideration the use of fireworks or pyrotechnics as a possible aggravating factor in any attack on 999 crews. I fully support a zero-tolerance approach on this and I fully support the courts in taking such offences into account when sentencing offenders.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our emergency crews who will be working hard this weekend to help to ensure we can all enjoy Bonfire Night safely.”
Anyone with information about attacks on emergency services or acts of deliberate fire setting call Police Scotland on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or report online to Fearless at www.fearless.org.