31 March 2014

A fire and rescue service has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the “increasing number” of attacks on firefighters in South Wales and the “devastating consequences” these attacks can have.

Senior fire officers in South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) have warned that lives could be lost due to the rising number of attacks on firefighters while they are undertaking their duties.

To create awareness of the problem, SWFRS has launched a new campaign with the slogan, “We can’t protect while we are under attack.”

According to SWFRS, in 2012/13 there were 12 attacks on Firefighters in South Wales (April 12 to March 13) and in 2013/14 this figure was already up to 14 attacks by 31 December 2013. This is an increase of 16% in less than two years.

The attacks are said to range from verbal assaults, being spat at, having bricks, bottles and other objects hurled at fire crews and fire engines, being ambushed, punched, kicked and physically abused.

In other parts of the country, attacks have become even more violent, with a number of firefighters being shot at or stabbed while responding to an emergency incident.

To assist with catching the perpetrators of these attacks, all fire appliances within SWFRS have been fitted with 360 degree digital CCTV which will enable the service to record footage of any attacks on firefighters, which can then be used to seek the prosecution of any offenders.

Commenting on the issue, Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer of SWFRS said, “It is absolutely beyond belief that our firefighters are being attacked so viciously while responding to emergency incidents and trying to save lives. Attacking our fire crews has very serious consequences and it cannot and will not be part of anyone's job to face abuse, threats or attacks.”

Further information about the campaign can be accessed at www.southwales-fire.gov.uk/English/newsandevents/Pages/AttacksonFirefightersCampaign.aspx.