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18-11-20

NFCC calls for firefighters to use body worn cameras following mindless attacks

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is calling for all UK fire services to use body worn cameras, following a spate of mindless attacks on crews.

In a video shared on NFCC’s social media channels, crews reveal shocking first-hand stories and footage of firefighters being pelted with fireworks and verbally abused by members of the public.

Between 2015 and 2020 there were more than 3,800 attacks on firefighters. In 2019/20 alone, around 950 attacks were recorded in England and Scotland, not taking into account this year’s Bonfire period that saw a sharp rise in the volume and severity of attacks, with fireworks, stones and bricks being thrown at crews. Such attacks risk impacting the mental and physical health of firefighters.

In some areas of the country, firefighters can no longer attend some types of fires – unless they have a police escort. NFCC warns these can escalate quickly into large scale fires, putting properties and lives at risk.

Chris Lowther, Chair of NFCC’s Operations Committee and Chief Fire Officer for Tyne and Wear, who opens the video, said: “I am disgusted that firefighters are being attacked when trying to protect the communities they serve; ultimately saving lives.

“We need to see custodial sentences handed out – it is clear we need a deterrent which makes people think twice. These mindless attacks are abhorrent; if one or two members of staff are injured on a shift, this can result in fire appliances having to be taken off the road while other staff are called in. This leaves communities at risk if there is a major incident.”

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher who also features on the video insisting the attacks must stop, said: “I know that Chief Fire Officers in every UK Fire and Rescue Service care about the health and wellbeing of all firefighters, I know it is something each of them takes very seriously.

“I would urge them to think about body worn camera technology to help to protect their crews. The cameras can be a superb operational aid when it comes to debriefing incidents, but they can also record assaults and bring those attacking firefighters to justice.

“While jail sentences have been increased from 12 to 24 months, we now need to see these imposed to send a clear message. Emergency services staff must be treated with the respect they deserve; blue light services are here to keep people safe.”

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