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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Wardens to protect fire crews
Fire engine
Firefighters are coming under increased attacks
Street wardens are being brought in to shield firefighters from attacks on Teesside.

The move follows an increase in reports of attacks from fire crews in the Middlesbrough area.

Some of Cleveland Fire Brigade's fleet is already equipped with CCTV cameras in an effort to deter acts of violence.

But now street wardens are to be used to combat what fire chiefs have described as a "worsening situation".

Brigade district manager Tony Marwood said: "We have had problems for a number of years with verbal abuse from gangs of youths.

"But over recent months this has escalated to the stage where firefighters are actually being physically assaulted.

"In one or two cases firefighters have been so injured that they have had to be taken off duty.

Identify troublemakers

"It is more than a nuisance and we are being prevented from protecting lives and property."

The new measures will see Middlesbrough's team of about 20 wardens acting as "crowd controllers".

They are all paid and undergo a three-week training course before taking to the streets.

He said he was confident wardens themselves would not come under attack because they are able to more readily identify troublemakers.

Warden Bill Thompson said: "We will keep the well-meaning public away from the scene of the fire and also keep an eye on the appliances themselves.

"We are already patrolling many of the areas where crews have come under attack, so it is not really additional work for us."

Mr Thompson said wardens were working in cooperation with Cleveland Police in tackling anti-social behaviour.

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